Blog PostsDigital FirstInfluencer MarketingThe magic middle — the Nash equilibrium of influencer marketing

The magic middle — the Nash equilibrium of influencer marketing

Influencers in the magic middle are way underrated.

There you are, compiling your influencer mapping, only to hear your colleagues’ voices echoing in the back of your head, “Oh, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could get [insert mega-popular A-list influencer here] to cover our new line of products?”

“Yeah, totally,” everyone agrees. And your boss says, “Yeah, we should definitely make that happen!”

We as in you, that is.

And now you’re struggling with getting the A-list influencer to cover your brand.

Maybe there’s another way to go about this?

If so, it could save you from the humiliation of pitching even when you know beforehand that it won’t work.

The Nash equilibrium: “The prettiest blonde in the room”

Some of you might have seen the movie A Beautiful Mind (2001), starring Russell Crowe. In that movie, if you saw it, you might remember this scene (starts at to 1:20):

Everyone’s wrong and that can be a good thing for you.

When it comes to influencer marketing, everyone loves to go for the hottest names with the biggest followings — “the prettiest blonde in the room”. But, of course, this violates the Nash Equilibrium by not taking into account the actions of others.

Big name influencers are courted by tons of other brands at any given moment.

And from there, it trickles down.

Let’s talk about the “Magic Middle”. What does it mean?

Influencers in the magic middle

David Sifry, the founder of Technorati, coined the term “Magic Middle” for bloggers with 20 – 1,000 active inbound links.

The term was made popular largely by Brian Solis, who discussed magic middle influencers in Putting The Public Back Into Public Relations.

These magic middle influencers carry a lot more influence than one might think; many top influencers are today professionals, meaning that they actually can make a living off their digital impact. The same can, of course, not be said for the magic middle influencers (also known as micro-influencers).

So why does magic middle influencers keep pushing through?

The answer — passion and ambition.

And that counts for something. Now, their influence might be narrow. Especially compared to the A-listers and their massive online entourage.

But how many influential brand ambassadors does it really take for your company to do significantly better?

The tastemakers of our modern day society

Referral traffic volume often has very little to do with conversion rates.

Traffic from magic middle influencers usually convert better; their community trusts them and when they send traffic your way, they do it out of passion and not for acclaim.

Such influencers tend to be passionate about their niche subjects, sharing and learning from each other in a circle based on trust and dialogue; they are the tastemakers of modern day society.

And yes, it’s said that one in ten people tell the other nine how to vote, where to eat and what to buy.

The trickle-up effect: Micro-influencing your way to the top

Getting top influencer publicity isn’t by any means impossible:

Lots of times, it makes complete sense to go big.

However, unless you also pay ‘big’, you can’t expect the biggest names to stay loyal to your brand over time.

But if your company appreciated and acknowledged a magic middle influencer, you might just earn a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.

And who knows, with your help, they might make into the big leagues themselves — and then your emails will be amongst the few that actually reaches them?

Photo by Luke van Zyl on Unsplash.


Avatar of Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
  1. Jerry, thanks for another awesome post.

    I have two thoughts.

    1) Danny Brown did a study showing that the people with the biggest reach do not necessarily have the best influence when it comes to moving people t0wards action. Instead he recommends companies to identify and collaborate with “micro-influencers” that do. There are some interesting services that aid this work. For example Tellagence predicts how your information can spread through micro-influencers.

    2) If we start off by thinking about the tribes we want to reach, e.g. the tribe of sustainability, or entrepreneurship or golf, we can then proceed to identify the influencers within that tribe. I think many companies go wrong when they simply look for celebrity endorsements, rather than starting off with identifying tribes and thinking about the value they can bring them.

    Keep up the good work! I am beginning to see a pattern emerge. Your posts are forming an intricate tree of nodes, all cleverly linked, amounting to a massive body of knowledge.

  2. As a blogger in the Magic Middle who is very passionate and discriminating, thank you for this post. I know for a fact that our readers trust our recommendations because we only do stuff we believe in and have tried ourselves. We started our blog to help others, yet we also like to make money! Thanks for your well-written analysis. As to recommending a blog (besides ourselves – I work with my twin sister), I’d say is a great choice. She shares tips about frugal living, and is a good writer.

  3. Excellent article. I’ve started a draft on my blog on the long tail of influencer marketing in which I write about the very same subject; don’t always go for the big one, rather consider working with several smaller bloggers because the impact could be much more significant, not only in terms of ROI.

    Thanks for the insights anyway :-)

  4. This is an interesting perspective Jerry. I especially like the reference to A beautiful mind, being sort of a cineast myself. Good stuff!

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