Why influencers are important - Interview with best-selling author Mark Schaefer

There is a lot of buzz around marketing- and social media influencers in today’s online landscape. We wanted to find out more about why they are considered so important, so we reached out to one of the world’s leading marketing experts, Mark Schaefer.

Mark is an internationally-acclaimed college educator, author, speaker, and strategy consultant with an incredible resume. He has published several best-selling marketing books as well as given speeches and workshops for some of the world’s biggest brands. Last but by no means least, Mark also blogs at {grow} — one of the top five marketing blogs of the world.


Hi Mark and thank you for sharing your expertise with us!

Tell us, why are marketing influencers important?

“Hi Digital Mic Drop! Let’s look at the current state of my advertising consumption. Unless it is the news or a sports program, I never see TV ads. I watch TV on Netflix. I subscribe to satellite radio, where there are no ads. I subscribe to three online newspapers and never see ads. One-third of the people with smartphones have ad-blockers now.”

“We are marching toward an ad-free world”

“So, I would say over the past five years, my consumption of advertising has declined by 95 percent and I’m not unusual. Inexorably, we are marching toward an ad-free world. And yet, we have large marketing budgets to spend and people to reach with our message. How do we do that?”

We will follow their recommendations. We will buy.

“One answer — perhaps the leading answer — is by connecting with this group of internet experts, fanatics, and self-made entertainers generally referred to as influencers. And done well, this strategy really works. Most businesses have become detached institutions, soul-less, boring, and uptight. But people on the web who we love and trust and admire — we will listen to them. We will follow their recommendations. We will buy.”

“I predicted that influence marketing would become a mainstream marketing practice.”

“Back in 2012, I wrote the first the book on influence marketing, “Return On Influence” Back then it was an unfamiliar idea, but at the end of the book, I predicted that influence marketing would become a mainstream marketing practice within two years. This was correct, and now influence marketing is the second-fastest-growing line item on marketing budgets in the U.S. (behind content marketing).”

“They will trust content shared by a stranger before they will trust your ads.”

“The research supports the power of influence marketing. When people share content about us online, they become advocates. Most people acknowledge that their purchasing decisions are affected by the content they see shared online. In fact, they will trust content shared by a stranger before they will trust your ads. Purchases resulting from influencer recommendations may equal eight times what the influencer purchased on their own.”

“The problem is, most companies are applying it poorly.”

“So there is undeniable power in this strategy. The problem is, most companies are applying it poorly. They pitch influencers and spam them, they make outrageous demands for product placement that jeopardizes their credibility, they don’t understand that success requires patience and a long-term commitment. Influence marketing is important, and it works … but only if you take the time to really do it right.”


Thank you, Mark!


Get Mark Schaefer’s books here:


  1. Interesting ideas here. I’m really excited about this new age of self-made entertainers. I watch my own children’s media consumption habits and totally see the power of influencers on their preferences of clothes, games and even food.

  2. My concern with self-made entertainers is that you never really know who you are aligning with. People are really good at creating personas online that probably align with your brand but may not be as ‘authentic’ as they seem. This story for example:
    These guys were excellent at social media, had a lot of big brands buy into their story and many brands invested significant influencer marketing dollars. Bottom line: marketers beware. Don’t invest in an “influencer” simply because of follower count.

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