Back in the olden days, we had PR & PR agencies. Now we have fragmented communication channels and a lot of online influencers.
The premise is simple: rather than having to rely on your existing audience to promote your brand, you can get access to a much larger audience via people who are already popular with your potential customers. Here's an interesting & helpful article on e-consultancy & some useful tools
"The natural temptation is to go for people with the largest following. But as with everything in digital marketing (and in life, if you want to get philosophical about things), it’s a little more complicated than that. Forbes came up with the following formula:
Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers"
There's also some advice on which tools to use to assist, such as Buzzsumo.