Last Updated on June 8, 2020

You’ve set goals for your influencer marketing campaign; you have an idea of who you are looking to target. Now, in part 6 of our 14 part series it is time to break down the major influencer types to help you understand when to employ each within your overall marketing strategy.

Three Types of Influencers

If you look back in the first article of the series, you’ll recall that at Intellifluence we like to segment influencers into three main categories: aspirational, authoritative, and peer. The reason is fairly simple: each category is best used for specific types of campaigns; while some overlap can occur, for the vast majority of brands looking to deploy an influence campaign, the goals and reach mechanisms required to meet those goals for the specific buyer personas tend to fall within one of the chosen categories.

So when should you use a celebrity (aspirational) campaign? What about authority? Peer? Similar to our breakdown on when to use specific social channels, the best way forward is with a Matrix.

Intellifluence Influencer Type Usefulness Matrix

Not going to lie… I love categorizing data into tables in order to help make better sense of the world around me. Hopefully if it works for me, it’ll also work for you. Rather than a ‘Y’ or ’N’ like used on the social channel table, to describe binary answers, the influencer types are more fluid. Thus we use a 1, 2, or 3 (with 3 being the highest score) to explain the power a type possesses for each attribute.

For our purposes, the first three (reach, relevancy, and trust) are the most important attributes. Capability of informing, directing commerce, and eliciting an emotional response are secondary factors that exist primarily because of the first three, rather than by itself. Let’s explain why in the definition of each:

  1. Reach — the simplest to define, reach is simply primary and secondary audience size. Naturally, celebrities will have the largest overall audience size and their words will tend to be carried the most.
  2. Relevancy — while not an inverse to reach, it is often the case that similarities examined in a buyer persona result in an overall smaller set of potential people simply due to being more targeted. How relevant am I do online marketing? Very; it is what I have been doing longer than anything else professionally in my life (eating doesn’t count). Shoe selection? Not at all. I can’t even find a pair of men’s size 13 that fit right, so you can safely ignore any suggestions I give you.
  3. Trust — we trust our friends, family, and peers significantly more than we trust the random celebrity… If you don’t, you really should, because they are right far more often than the random celebrity you might aspire towards.
  4. Inform — the capacity to inform is a combination of relevancy and core knowledge, backed by trust. Peers provide a decent degree of educational aptitude, but this is where authoritative influences thrive. Are you more likely to share the political Facebook post of your friend/family member or the person posting on an “authoritative” publication? Sorry, Uncle Bob.
  5. Commerce — the root of all commerce is the confluence of trust and need; according to our matrix we can see that since peers lead the influencer types for each of these categories, it possesses the highest capacity to influence a commercial decision, adjusted on a per person basis of course, because audience size becomes a factor as a multiplier when attempting to calculate potential sales volume.
  6. Emotion — eliciting an emotional response is a tricky factor; while partly based on relevancy (and thus empathetic connection), it is also based somewhat paradoxically on reach — the more people that share a specific response, the more likely the herd mentality kids in.

So which is best? Each type can be used for different goals, but if you were to assume that each value is equivalent and simply add the scores up:

I bet that makes you want to get out and discover some peers right away. You can wait though, because to be fair to each type I developed some quick case studies on how each main influencer type could be properly utilized.

Using Aspirational Influence

Do you know Murray Newlands? If you’re on Vine or Twitter there’s a decent chance that you do; this marketer/entrepreneur turned major influencer is everywhere these days. So why would someone that is already an authoritative influencer via his Entrepreneur and Forbes columns use aspirational influence?


Yes, that is Murray with the immortal Tyra Banks. When it comes to gaining overall influence to transition from an authority to a celebrity (*remember, some authorities can transcend to celebrity status), the most important element is audience size. Thus, by proximity and co-occurrence campaigns of Murray posing for pictures and doing joint events with other celebrities, his ability to radically increase his follower counts happens due to 2+2 equaling 5.

Fame builds fame.

In my opinion, if Murray wants to keep building up his name, he’s going about it the right way. Next, I would recommend that he backfill using peer influencers to reinforce his authoritative status by increase share counts and other CPA activity tied to his professional postings, offering reciprocal co-occurrence selfies at the numerous conferences he attends.

Using Authoritative Influence

At Intellifluence we use Slack for the vast majority of our communications. Zendesk tickets go into our support channel, Stripe transactions and registration events have their own channel, our product roadmap sits in a channel of its own and feeds into sprints on Asana, Git commits go in the dev channel, etc. I’m a convert.

How did I become a convert though? It wasn’t necessarily a peer, even though Dave Snyder first introduced me to it at Copypress — rather it was from reading this article by Scott Rosenberg and giving it another try and seeing the power of a hub that lived up to its hype.

How can Slack make more use out of authoritative influencers?

Frankly, they’re doing a great job. If you’re reading any tech or startup journalist for long enough time, chances are you’ll see them write an article on Slack. However, that is also where I think they should continue focusing:

By ensuring a blanket PR campaign of simply announcing new integrations jointly with their partners and gaining coverage, they’ll continue in their never-ending campaign to optimize the way we consume information and make sense of it at the business level.

Next, they can use peer influencers to amplify the effects of these positive PR pushes by offering discounted ‘Standard’ plans for those with existing Slack plans that are willing to share out and review their positive experiences. That kind of authoritative + peer influence helps to create a purchasing compulsion for anyone obsessed with productivity.

Using Peer Influence

You didn’t think that a peer influencer marketplace was going to end the article there, did you?

For our final case, we turn to our friends at Search Engine Journal, founded by lorenbaker and under the watchful editorial eye of Kelsey Jones.

SEJ is in an interesting position since it is one of only a handful of search news sites, which largely share authors and cover the same set of events and strategies — in itself it would be classified as an authoritative influencer. I won’t pretend to speak for it, but as a goal let’s say they want to increase advertising; that is accomplished by both increasing readership and increasing demand for ad space.

How can peers help?

The more shares and eyeballs each article gets, the more attractive it becomes to advertisers; SEJ could do that today by using a variety of search and social tools, including registering for Intellifluence and making use of our audience to constantly push for more readership, but it can go further than that. By offering high-level peers an opportunity to post their own 10x content (no lightweight guest posts, this is a serious journal after all) in their outreach in exchange for a speaking slot at SEJ Summit, consulting leadflow, or some other ego-stroking item of value, they can continue their strive towards editorial excellence and convince those authoritative in the industry that don’t write much to share their knowledge a bit more freely, and only with SEJ. This creates a differentiation from among its own peers, and thus increases niche advertising demand that matches the audience shift away from the commoditization of search journalism.

As you can see from the case studies and usefulness matrix all types of influence have their place; it is just a matter of ensuring that the type you need best fits into your overall marketing strategy.