I’ve been knee-deep in influencer identification projects this month. It’s my first foray beyond custom industry analyst & consultant lists since my vendor marketing days. The work has been fun and interesting and much more demanding (i.e. harder) than I expected. Frankly, I just didn’t realize how much work goes into finding the top 50 to 100 influencers in a given market for a given product or service.
Here are a couple of early observations about the challenges in my journey from a pure-play analyst watcher to a full-score influencer watcher.
Top Challenge: volume
What: Hands down, my biggest challenge is adjusting to the sheer quantity and variety of candidates at the start of analysis. There are easily a couple thousand noteworthy people actively influencing some aspect of purchase decisions on a particular product or service in a specific region.
Shift: I came into this accustomed to starting influencer identification projects with a few hundred analysts tops.
Close 2nd: mental gymnastics
What: Another challenge is the number of filters you use, how often you flip between them and how you align them. Each type of influencer behaves differently, and many exert influence independent of their job title.
Shift: I’ve been advising on this dynamic within the analyst relations world for several years — even within analyst relations you need a sophisticated set of filters. Yet I’ve never flipped between so many sets of criteria, so many times, during one project.
As if 1 & 2 aren’t enough: noise and silence
What: Some very influential people have a very small footprint in the public domain. These quiet influential types don’t jump out of the research and kiss you on the cheek. Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of wind bags.
Shift: It’s like those perceptual illusions and Hidden Pictures puzzles: once you know what attributes you’re looking, you spot them.
There’d be a much longer list of challenges, had I attempted these projects on my own. Duncan and Nick have a killer approach and solid tools and the research team here is top notch.
What about you? Please share your stories and links on identifying influencers.