What Matters More in Influencer Marketing: Message or the Messenger?


Fifteen years back Malcolm Gladwell wrote ‘The Tipping Point’ and idea of influencers was born. Gladwell argued the “Law of the Few: The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” It meant that a select few individuals had the power to influence their tribes and as marketers we had to find these mavens, these super-influentials and have them on our side. Over the last few years, I ran campaigns with this rule implanted in my head. If I focus on select few, treat them well, win them over, then we win the game. Well, all that changed, in the last one year.

When The Message Trumped The Messenger

In August of 2014, we released a video, a travel hacks video for ixigo. The video got mere 300 views on YouTube and died, but the second day we released it on Facebook as a native video. That day, Gladwell’s law in my head was shattered forever. We got 50,000 views on first day, and the video went on to become a 7 million views hit, shared by 3.5 lakh people over few months.

Half of our 7 lakh fans on Facebook suddenly became influencers.

Every ‘share’ our content got, influenced users, with many fans specifically tagging their friends and family to see the video. That one video had the reach of 25 million, which was about 25% of Facebook’s user base in India at that time (view case study) We followed by releasing a bunch of videos, from the learning, and got phonemenal success. One such video was shared by a Facebook user and it alone got 2.4 million views on his page. The question we now ask before we dive into designing the message: How will people be compelled to talk about this and share it? Sharing became the new currency :)

Influencer Marketing On its Head

With the learnings from that one video and many other viral hits later, the best practice evolved into making share-worthy content. If the content (the message) is compelling enough for anyone to hit share, then everyone is an influencer (messenger); We didn’t have to find the perfect people to spread the idea, if we focus on the message, make it compelling and easy to share, it doesn’t matter whether the individuals who share it have 5 friends or 50,000, whether they are popular or not.

However what may be true for one vertical may not be true for another. I’m sure many a marketing strategies are working great by engaging selected influencers. We did some influencer marketing campaigns in the past which were successful, but nothing came close to the phenomenal numbers we saw by focussing on the message.

I would love to hear your experiences with Influencer Marketing, your challenges and if you think this game is changing faster than we thought :)

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My purpose is to make the World a happier place, share stories & be the change. Content Marketing is what I do. Creating compelling, shareworthy videos :)

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