A recent article in the Telegraph in Britain claims that the influence generated by recognized Twitter "influencers" may not be as powerful as once thought. The article cited a study at Northwestern University that used elaborate algorithms to track and rank the most influential Twitter celebrities and evaluate their impact on trends on the microblogging site. 

Celebrities have been able to convert their legions of fans and followers into revenue streams by offering "tweets for hire" - soliciting dollars for a positive tweet or mention. The concept is that these are powerful marketing mechanisms and that a good word (or tweet) from a celebrity is equal to an endorsement in traditional media. 

While these celebrities boast millions of followers, their influence is limited, according to the researchers. The real influence lies with people who are considered experts in a particular field or topic. While these experts may not have the number of followers, they actually create a larger impact - thus they are the true influencers. 

This is a significant revelation for marketers, as many executives and companies actively seek the tweets of celebrities to build brand and gain market recognition. In fact, they may be better served finding the true influencers - a journalist or industry expert that can actually move the needle. 

Ultimately, marketers will need to avoid the temptation of buying reputation through sponsored blog posts and tweets and get back to the real business of brand building - creating newsworthy events and activities that translate into earned media through established influencers.