Influencer outreach is a key element of many social media and modern public relations programs. But they often prove ineffective at driving behavior beyond social chatter. I wrote a post about why this is so, called “Why Online Influencer Outreach is Overrated and How to Fix It”
The biggest issue is that we tend to confuse audience with influence. Having a lot of Twitter followers doesn’t give you the power to drive action, it gives you the power to drive awareness. Those are different abilities with unequal degrees of usefulness, just like the power to fly (Superman) is better than the power to swim fast and talk to fish (Aquaman).
The other issue is passion. True influence requires two things: audience and advocacy. Advocacy is driven by the depth of conviction, and influencers typically are less committed to the product or company than are actual customer advocates.
In the original post, I recommend focusing these types of programs first on harnessing the passion of current customers, who make up for in passion what they may lack in audience, and then expand to influencers who bring the audience but perhaps less passion.
Our friends at Zuberance.com (which helps companies activate customer advocates) worked up this infographic that illustrates the differences between influencers and advocates. Feel free to share it, embed it, etc.