I've recently written an article for Search Engine Journal in which I tried to identify the top 10 female influencers on Twitter.
When the article came out, I got the following comment:
Indeed, celebrity culture can be very superficial (not to say that the women on the list are superficial, of course).
"Influencer culture" can fall into the same patterns of people being blindly idolized based on their status, appearance, and wealth as opposed to ideas and thoughts. In addition, it has become obvious that social media influence is very easily manipulated with several influencers being exposed for faking their social media success.
WOW...! This is going to cause a stir!— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) February 6, 2019
Someone published a detailed report naming and shaming a lots of popular Instagram 'Influencers' as FAKE!
The post on Medium got removed earlier today, but here's a cached copy: https://t.co/5kMUO1PuH8
Luckily, the digital marketing field is different.
For starters, we are marketers. Our profession is about driving attention and building audiences, we know when it's not done in a fair and mutually beneficial way. You won't become an influencer in the digital marketing field by sharing common truths and cookie-cutter messages. In the digital marketing world, we give recognition to those who actually have something to say and contribute to the community. Moreover, we are a creative bunch, so with our influencers, we're looking for creativity as well.
However, defining influence is still not an easy task. How do you determine the power of an influencer? Is it based on the number of people you reach, i.e. the size of your audience? Or is it the loyalty of the audience, how often they interact with you? Or is it the power you have to actually affect the way they do marketing? The replies will probably vary from marketer to marketer, but I feel like the answer is somewhere in the middle.
Or actually, the answer is in our Top 50 digital marketing influencers report. It includes the rating of top 50 influencers, top 10 most enaged and top 10 most mentioned influencers, and you can download below. The methodology behind the rating is thoroughly described in the report itself, but I wanted to point out that we really aimed to make it as all-encompassing as possible. Check it out!
In our "Top 50 digital marketing influencers" report, we analyzed different sets of data, both collected by Awario, our social listening tool, and social media platforms themselves. Moreover, we went through the initial list of 100+ influencers and picked those whose influence isn't based exclusively on vanity metrics.
Obviously, there were some limitations: for instance, I was able to count the average number of LinkedIn interactions for each influencer, but since LinkedIn doesn't give monitoring tools access to their API, collecting mentions from LinkedIn is impossible. Therefore, if an influencer uses LinkedIn as the main platform for sharing their ideas, they had a disadvantage over an influencer who's more active on Twitter, for example.
The final 50 people that ended up in our rating are each an amazing representation of the influencer marketing community. What did I learn from this representation?
Analyzing the analysis
What do these 50 people tell us about the influencer marketers on the whole? Based on this rating, it's much more likely that a marketing influencer will be a white man. That's not very surprising I guess.
As for their areas of expertise, here is what digital marketing influencers specialize in:
- Social media marketing: 43%
- Content marketing: 20%
- SEO and website optimization: 16%
- Influencer marketing: 12%
- PPC and social media advertising: 9%
I would expect influencers to specialize in influencer marketing, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Overall, I'd say these numbers represent the digital marketing community quite accurately.
Perhaps you expect me to show you the top 5 influencers from the report as a preview. But that would be quite boring, wouldn't it? Instead, I present to you:
5 digital marketing influencers I'd like to have a cup of tea with
These are the people from the report whose Internet presence makes my social-media-scrolling procrastination infinitely better. So, in no particular order:
Rand Fishkin is a very "real" marketer: he has opinions on what's working in our industry and what's not, and he is ready to share them. I started following his content more closely after he quit Moz and focused all his energy on Sparktoro, a platform that promises to revolutionize influencer marketing and audience analysis. For now, it's the home for several free tools and Rand's insightful blog posts (here's a very topical one on influencer marketing). Rand's ideas are among those that are able to cause an Aha! moment, and you really need Aha! moments in your professional life.
He also seems like a very nice and socially aware person, and it's always a plus!
Ann Handley is the brains, heart, and fingers behind MarketingProfs. She mainly posts about content marketing and writing. You can learn a lot simply from following her on Twitter and LinkedIn, but she also wrote two amazing books that can turn you into a content-creating machine (if that's what you want). And once again, she seems like a really nice person.
Matt is a social media guru who often breaks the news about new features or social media events. He is very active on Twitter and Facebook, where he moderates The Social Media Geek Out group. He is probably one of the most knowledgeable people in the world of social media with a clear understanding of what's going on, and I'd love to pick his brain on what he thinks the future of social media will look like. Also, he's British, so I assume he wouldn't turn down a nice cup of tea.
Madalyn is a Twitter guru and an amazing tattoo-wearing social media evangelist. She is one of the pioneers of social media: in the 90s she founded GoGirlsMusic, a forum for female musicians, which effectively could count as an early prototype for social media. She went on to become a social media marketing expert who manages several Twitter chats and speaks at events around the world.
Joe is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute and an avid fan of the colour orange. He mostly posts about content marketing, but he also shares a ton of useful information about all things digital marketing on Twitter. Currently, Joe leads the Orange Effect Foundation, a non-profit that helps children with speech difficulties. I'm very glad that he decided not to tend sheep after all!
To find more amazing people and see how they rank, download our Top 50 digital marketing influencers report!