"Brands can use search tools to find potentially influential targets for engagement, but that's not enough. Conversing with anyone and everyone may satisfy certain individuals, but the need to scale conversations to reach the appropriate audience around meaningful topics requires a more sophisticated approach. Businesses can no longer broadcast what they believe are desirable messages to the masses. They must instead survey the customer landscape to identify themes, opportunities, and understand how customers are forming and segmenting markets. Doing so surfaces customer wants and preferences, but perhaps most notably, the way they find and share information. And for those businesses that are paying attention, the connected customers and influential voices who influence customers will also materialise. By identifying and potentially aligning with these highly connected individuals, businesses can more effectively reach their customers. Rather than the traditional one-to-many approach of paid or earned media, influential individuals offer a one-to-one-to-many network within which brand reach is greatly amplified.'
"It's not just about reach, however. Because individuals are connecting with one another in personal networks, trust, authority, and relationships factor into how information is received and internalised. Needless to say, there's greater value in a message derived from someone held in high regard. These influential individuals can take the form of experts, tastemakers, peers, or topical authorities who are active within networks of relevance in which customers are engaged."
(pp. 86-7, 'The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the way you work to succeed in the consumer revolution' by Brian Solis - Landmark)