It’s widely known that certain people have a lot of influence, one way or another, and those people are influencers because they have an audience, one that listens to and often believes or is at least affected by what they say.

Advertisers and marketers have long recognized the importance of these influencers, but how are influencers influenced, and are they really affecting opinions of their followers or fans? Is there a method or model? As a matter of fact there is, and it’s called the Two-Step Flow of Communication. Read on for more..

 

What is the Two-Step Flow of Communication?

Known also as the Multi-step Flow Model, it was formulated as a result of a study on social influence which was done in the 1940’s, based on research into voting in the US presidential election.

Paul Lazarsfeld, along with Bernard Berelson and Hazel Gaudet, are the culprits responsible for formulating this model of social influence. They discovered that certain key people, opinion leaders, may be influenced by mass media and have the power to influence many others. So in this model, information flows from mass media to these influencers and then on to their audience.

Subsequent research was done when Lazarsfeld was joined by Elihu Katz and the two of them literally wrote the book on it – “Personal Influence“, in 1955.

The Two-Step Flow of Communication model was considered to be superior to the earlier Hypodermic Needle Theory, which is based on the belief that information and influence flows directly from mass media to the wider audience.

 

Criticisms

Subsequent research contradicts the Two-step model and in fact suggests that information frequently does in fact flow straight to the end user, rather than through opinion leaders. And even among those considered to be opinion leaders, there are different degrees and circles of influence.

Additionally, in this internet age, something which did not exist at the time this model was formulated, there can easily be a far greater number of steps between message source and target audience. Also, the place and power of traditional mass media itself has changed considerably as a result of the internet and the rise of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

However, despite these criticisms, a recent study on the flow of information on Twitter has actually shown that the Two-step model does in fact seem to hold true and that influencers, such as celebrities and popular bloggers, are in fact the key conduits for the flow of opinion forming information to the masses.

 

How Can You Use?

It is quite clear how to put this to good use – focus your marketing efforts on key people who have significant influence in the market you wish to reach.

There are a number of tools available these days which you can use for influencer marketing, including Womplify of course. You can also use highly targeted adverts on social networks which can actually reach specific individuals, your chosen influencers, which makes it very simple to experiment with and benefit from the Two-Step Flow of Communication!

But just because someone has the power to affect and shape opinion to their specific audience, doesn’t necessarily mean they can influence everyone else. There are generally two types of influencer that you should be aware of – monomorphic and polymorphic.

Monomorphic influencers are limited to a specific niche and so can have a lot of influence in that niche but none in others. Polymorphic, as the name implies, tend to have influence in a range of topics. It is important to target influencers appropriately, not just pick those that seem like they have lots of social network followers – if they’re not in your niche, they are not going to be effective for you.

 

Where to Learn More?

Talk to us! We offer a free 1-to-1 consultancy service to all our users which we do via web conference, so we can answer your questions and show you with a screenshare, how to implement for your specific use cases.


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