Who are really the influencers?

Online Media Daily reports today on a study by ICOM — a division of direct marketing agency Epsilon — which finds that there is no universal influencer, and that consumers are influencers strictly within product categories, rather than across all categories.  In other words, just because that blogger or Twitterer has thousands of readers/followers doesn’t mean they will be influential with YOUR customers.

Then the piece goes on to note:

One of the first studies to seriously cast doubt on influencers’ limitless authority was released by Canadian research firm Pollara in mid-2008. Based on the responses of some 1,100 adults, it found that self-described social media users put far more trust in friends and family online than in popular bloggers, or strangers with 10,000 social network “friends.”

Nearly 80% said they were very or somewhat more likely to consider buying products recommended by real-world friends and family, while only 23% reported being very or somewhat likely to consider a product pushed by “well-known bloggers.”

So if your goal is to activate the people who are influential with the consumers you are targeting, shouldn’t you be looking for your influencers within those consumers’ friend networks?