To take the argument further, it’s trust that drives influence. Trust is the proximate cause that results in influence.
Marketers and communicators who chase the notion of influencer outreach are chasing the rainbow.
Instead of trying to erect smoke and mirrors, why not focus on product, service, and experience design? If you deliver a compelling consumer experience, those consumers will spread the word for you to those they influence.
I realize this is easier said than done: in most organizations, the marketing and communications departments are merely the messengers rather than ambassadors. And there’s the line that separates success from failure.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, a piece of crap by any other name is still a piece of crap.