On this blog, much of the discussion has focused on the ability to get an idea, message, or piece of content, based on its own merits, to be discovered by an intended audience. This is indeed the main challenge of today’s marketers. However, there is often a core audience of influencers, advocates, and fans who can be of significant assistance in this effort.
With the decline of the mass publishers, and the advent of micropublishing online, whether through industry sites, social media, communities, or discussion forums, marketers are faced with a highly fragmented set of audiences to deal with. Each individual who writes has a unique set of motivations, ranging from building their own audience and reputation, to being seen as an expert in a community, or developing a business.
By carefully building relationships with this set of influencers over time, and understanding how you can help them achieve their goals, you can develop a friendly crucible for each of your messages. Each of these individuals influences an area of the market , and collectively may influence a larger area of the market than you can influence directly. Many of the key influencers in a particular market space are also watched closely be the mainstream media.
When explaining the value of social media to individuals who do not participate, and believe that their peers don't participate, this "indirect" model is the important one to explain. I have seen more than a few "aaaah, I get it" moments on social media, when this indirect model is explained.