Does the buck stop at Tastemakers?

There was an idiom that one of my friends in highschool loved.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”

For all those playing along, he’s pretty much espousing that he has fantastic contacts and therefore doesn’t need to work hard to create or learn to make his way forward in life.


Yeah, I know…

But in terms of viral marketing, could this actually hold true?

Content needs three things to become viral: communities of participation, unexpectedness, and tastemakers.

Communities of participation can be born out of the actual content that is going viral – it is the nature of an audience that they want to respond to the media that they are surrounded by and the internet offers a method for that to occur. Before the internet was so widely used, people used to pay to be part of fan clubs to engage in this participation.


Unexpectedness is just another word for creativity and is nothing really new. We’ve been demanding the unexpected in all forms of art and it is this cycle of the constant requirement to be surprised followed by being used to what once surprised us which is what changes culture.


But the sheer amount of unexpected content that can encourage an audience of participation is outstanding. Audiences are time-poor and cannot rake through the 48hours of content that is uploaded every minute to determine what they want to share with their friends. It is here there the reliance on tastemakers brings us back to my friend and he’s “it’s who you know” statement.

Tastemakers, more so than the audience that follows them are time-poor. Jimmy Kimmel and Taylor Swift don’t have time to figure out what they should share. What they do have, are friends who ask them to promote or friends of their managers/social media directors/agents. It’s who you freaking know.

But fear not my aspirational content-makers; for there are others.


When it comes to taste-makers, you have different levels you can target. We can’t all reach international sensation status for flipping a bottle. In addition to the top-of-mind celebrity tastemakers, we have your average joe taste maker and brand ambassadors.

Average Joe tastemakers are those influential people in your circle of friends – when they share something, generally you click on it. You know it is actually going to be new and interesting, and not a 18-month old meme (mum). The hope with these are that they will share it to fellow average joe tastemakers and the circle will just get bigger and bigger until Kimmel’s manager’s niece shares it and the rest is viral history.

Brand ambassadors are the tastemakers that companies should be focusing on. These ambassadors directly affect those who follow them in relation to the brand – whether it be for outfit ideas or recipe inspiration. Brands need to make sure that their content resinates with their brand ambassadors to allow the viral reaction among their customers online.

Which tastemakers do you think you pay the most attention to – celebrity or the average joe? And now that you’re aware of the tastemakers you can target, what methods do you use to get your content viral?



3 thoughts on “Does the buck stop at Tastemakers?

  1. mira says:

    Such an interesting read Sophie!

    I haven’t heard of the term ‘tastemakers’ in relation to viral content before but I definitely agree with your classifications. Personally I tend to come in contact with viral videos via my friends on Facebook. I follow minimal groups and personalities on Facebook so majority of my feed is generated by those I know. In contrast, I posses an Instagram account purely to follow brands and celebrities, thus through this platform I am more likely to be exposed to something shared by brand ambassador.

    To answer your question, I believe for something to go truly viral it must be relevant to each type of tastemaker, both the average joe and brand ambassador. I am assuming tastemaker refers to what we more commonly refer to today as an ‘influencer’. This infographic ( states there are 10 different forms of influencers, from celebrities to journalists. It explains what each type of influencer is most appropriate for in terms of digital strategy, and the impact they can potentially present for a brand.

    The infographic covers the ‘3Rs of influencers’ to help a brand’s prioritisation of influencers, these are:

    • Reach (Audience size)
    • Resonance (Engagement power with audience)
    • Relevance (Contextual fit)

    Similarly, Klout’s matrix of influence offers more than twelve different types of influencers that include: the specialist, the activist, the socializer, the observer to the broadcaster, curator to the thought leader. You can read more about it here:

    Clearly there are many forms of influencers and ways to classify them. Thus for a brand planning to produce content with the aim of going viral, considering which tastemaker/influencer to collaborate with is an important digital marketing consideration.

    (P.s gif game on fleek)


  2. variablyinteresting says:

    Hey Mira!
    Thanks for commenting.
    In terms of brand ambassadors- these can be every day people including yourself and friends who enjoy a brand and talk about it quite constantly. You might want to check out the #blackmilkclothing hashtag on instagram to see a brand who has used earned media in the terms of brand ambassadors really effectively. If you jump onto the profiles of users of these hashtags, you’ll probably notice they constantly show other products from the brand. Cult brands such as Black Milk encourage every day users to become brand ambassadors so well.
    Thanks for the links to the other sorts of influencers (the term “tastemakers” is just what worked well with the documentation I was working off and it kind of stuck). Really interesting the way that this is broken down. I wonder though at what point people will stop breaking it down. Even ‘celebrity’, ‘activist’, and ‘journalist’ can continue to be broken down into preferences and who they will influence/why.
    I always do enjoy a good Matrix though, so I will definitely be looking into Klouts matrix. I’m currently beginning research into how fads are promoted (a bit different from viral, but the speed of growth is still there) and will definitely be looking into Klout for a section.


  3. mira says:

    Hi again Sophie,

    Going off what you just said, it will be interesting to observe how tastemakers continue to be segmented. However, I also agree the boundaries of influencer segmentation is becoming blurred.

    For instance at my internship, it is often my task to research potential influencers to reach out to. A current client of ours is a national holiday parks company who recently requested a list of ‘influencers’ they could offer a free stay to. Our list included celebrities, bloggers, photographers, parents, travellers, food and wine enthusiasts etc. However the way in which we sourced these people wasn’t necessarily by typing ‘travel bloggers’. It involved hours of searching though followers of certain accounts, looking for anyone who presented a particular feel in their social media communications of which we felt aligned with our client’s image.

    Clearly the matrix’s I suggested are a great starting point for brands considering what sort of influencers to collaborate with, but ultimately there isn’t a clear cut method and brands should always keep in mind how the reputation of certain influencers will enhance or affect the brand’s overall perception.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s