Marketers are always looking for the maximum reach. In Europe, even the most successful Social Media Campaign does not reach more than a few hundred thousand people. Not bad, but not comparable to the tens of millions of people which are still reached through television and other traditional media. To increase the reach of Social Media Marketing, marketers are increasingly trying to get ‘influencers’ involved in spreading their message.

‘Influential posts and ‘influential impressions’

A large European study by Forrester shows that the ”influencers” can be divided into two categories, each with an important role in the ‘influence’ process. One group takes care of the ’influential posts’: the creation of opinions. The other group responsible for the ”Influential impressions’: the spread of opinions. The terminology for these two categories comes from the book ‘The Tipping Point’ from Malcolm Gladwell:

1. Mass mavens: ‘influential posts’

Mass mavens provide opinions on a wide range of products and services and distribute through various channels on the Internet. They Influence in terms of ideas.

2. Mass connectors: ‘influential impressions’

The mass connectors bring the views of the mass mavens by the public and actually care for the large range. They Influencing in terms of distribution.

The 80-20 rule

Based on the Pareto principle, one would expect that 20% of online consumers, create 80% of opinions. However the Forrester study shows that the distribution is even more extreme:

  • Only 11% of online consumers in Europe provides 80% of ”influential posts’ (the ’mass mavens’)
  • Only 4% of online consumers in Europe account for 80% of ”influential impressions (the ’mass connectors’)

Together they generate no less than 120 billion ”Influential impressions about products, services and brands. An impressive figure, which shows that the activation of both groups generate the necessary scale effect.

Facebook most important channel for ‘influential impressions’

‘Influentials posts’ of mass mavens are proportionally distributed across different channels on the Internet: 16% from blog posts, 25% from blog comments, 32% from forums and 28% from reviews and ratings.

Striking is that most ‘Influential impressions’ mainly take place on Facebook (66%), and not on Twitter (5%).

Peer influence varies per market rather than by segment

Differences between countries relate mainly to the adoption of social media. In countries where Facebook is deeply rooted, such as France and Britain for example, more than 70% of ‘influential impressions are shared via Facebook. In countries where local social networks are strong, as in the Netherlands, only half of the ‘influential impressions’ are shared on Facebook. Besides country age, gender and behavioral factors of the target group determine the profile of the influencer.

Here are 3 tips for an effective Influencing marketing strategy

Tip 1: Do not only target the big names
Marketers usually only target a handful of the big names among the mass mavens and too often forget the value of the smaller mass mavens and connectors. Try to activate a wide ‘influencers’ group to get the necessary scale effect.

Tip 2: Thinking beyond influential Posts on Facebook & Twitter
Make sure you do not only activate mass mavens through Facebook and Twitter activates, but also involve them in the appropriate forums, blogs and review sites, so their message gets a broader base. A nice example is Procter & Gamble, they invite the most popular ‘mommy bloggers’ not only to their social media sites, but also to their key review sites.

Tip 3: Calculate Secondary Influence
Given the importance of the mass connectors, it is important to not only to measure the reach of the mass mavens but also the reach of the mass connectors.


The Peer Influence Analysis by Forrester shows that marketers should go one step further in establishing an effective ‘Influencing Strategy’ by activating both types of influencers. The study is not clear how to best reach the mass connectors. It would be interesting to know if you can activate them best directly or via the mavens.