I often advise companies to create a unique and compelling information resource as a component in their influencer marketing program. Here’s a fine example: PricewaterhouseCoopers’ work for the World Economic Forum and Davos 10 — the PwC KnowledgeConcierge.

The PwC KnowledgeConcierge pulls together diverse facts and sources to convey a 360 degree view of the major topics being discussed at Davos 10.

pwcknowledgeconciergedavos

It’s built on “FastFacts” — individual slides, each devoted to one aspect of a topic. Most are charts or other visuals. The FastFacts are grouped together, and this lets you consider the “whole” by looking at the “parts”.

The sets of charts don’t have an extra narrative nor do they need one: the slide titles and the charts themselves tell the story.  And they do it in a compelling way.

PwC is able to present this range of facts because they keep an open mind about sourcing the FastFacts. Look closely and you’ll see that PwC draws from myriad sources: research companies, media, corporations, governments, public-private collaboratives, academia and non-profits.

Moral of the story: We all have unprecedented access to information - you, me, our influencers.  If anything, we have access to too much information. You don’t need to create all the information you pass along to your influencers. You can be a value-added filter. Find the best information that’s out there and put it together in meaningful ways. You’ll still convey your point of view. You’ll just be using many voices to do it.

Popularity: 11%

Today’s Apple iPad debut has everyone talking, including the tech industry analysts. The launch presented an unusually high profile opportunity for analysts to advance their credibility, influence and client loyalty. All they had to do was get to market quickly (i.e., this morning) with smart, helpful analysis. Unfortunately, only a few did. Instead, most of the industry analysts paying attention to the launch focused on speaking through the press or Twitter.

I checked 25 analyst sites for “ipad” or “apple ipad”. Here’s the short list of analysts who put their clients ahead of their sound bites as of noon Pacific today. My hat is off to all them. They understand that communicating through sound bites and 140 characters is not mutually exclusive to sharing more meaningful analysis — on a real time basis — with clients and online audiences.

Mike Borland, BIA Kelsey, at the Local Media Blog: Hello iPad, We’ve Been Expecting You

Harry Wang, at Parks Associates blog: Will the iPad Kill the Digital Photo Frame Category?

Carl Howe on Yankee Group blog: First take on Apple’s Anywhere iPad

Ted Schadler on The Forrester Blog for Information & Knowledge Management Professionals: Apple’s iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Consumer Door. Again.

Jeff Orr on the ABI Research blog: Apple Joins the Media Tablet Fray with iPad Launch

Andrew Brown on the Strategy Analytics blog: Apple’s iPad…just where does it fit in the Enterprise?

Philippe Winthrop on his personal blog: The Apple iPad: The Enterprise Mobility Perspective

Maribel Lopez on the Lopez Research blog: Apple Makes Further Advances As The Premier Retailer of the Digital Age

Stephen Baker on the NPD blog: Apple Reinvents The Netbook

If you know of others that were published on January 27, please add them in the comments.

Editor’s note on updates to post: added Andrew Brown; Maribel Lopez; Philippe Winthrop; Stephen Baker.

Popularity: 5%

Barbara on January 26th, 2010

Influencers are magnets. For example, we know that an influential keynote speaker is a sure-fire way to attract an audience. Yet, influencers are not simply intermediaries between us and our customers. They can also attract other influencers to our brands, our causes and our communities.

Robert Scoble demonstrated this dynamic to me during the Supernova ‘09 reception last month. I had approached to ask his opinion on the growing raft of influencer ranking tools and we got to talking more generally about how influence works. Within minutes, Mashable’s Ben Parr interrupted, intent on getting Scoble to say he’d attend an upcoming event. Scoble was having none of it, until Parr mentioned that a particular person would be there. That changed everything. Scoble turned to me and said, “See, that’s one way you influence me.”

You’re not likely to be in Ben Parr’s position, in terms of knowing the one precise name to drop and when to drop it. However, you can get there. Here are some simple tips on how to attract influencers with influencers.

1. If you have a 1:1 relationship in place, just ask. I know it seems too simple. However, the best way to find out is to ask. Pose the question in an appropriate context. Be upfront. You might explain that you’re building a larger circle of thought leaders, and want to include the people that they would most like to associate with. Or ask, “Who influences you? Who most influences your thinking?” If you’re producing a panel discussion ask your influencers to name their dream panel.

2. Create opportunities to discover and develop relationships between your influencers. Let influencers mingle by arranging dinners or adding social time to your business events. The key is to facilitate introductions and conversations without being a control freak. Don’t hover every minute: allow private conversations within the group. Stand back and observe the social dynamics. Then figure out what you learned and how to apply it to make your influencer marketing program even better.

3. Open the door to diverse people inside your organization. It’s good practice to assign an employee as a buddy to an influencer - but only to a point. Make it easy for influencers to tap into different parts of your company and get to know a mix of personalities and roles. Put this capacity into the DNA of your influencer marketing program. Examples include issuing a descriptive contact list, enhancing a private influencer portal with selected employee profiles, or involving different topical experts each time you brief your opinion leaders.

4. Watch for signs of trouble. Every one of us comes with baggage. It’s our nature. So, make no assumptions about who attracts who and who repels who. As you get to know influencers as people, you’ll find that some at competing companies enjoy opportunities to rub elbows while some who appear repeatedly at the same events and in the same press stories privately loathe each other.

Ask, watch, listen, think. Trust me, there’s just no app for that human touch.

Popularity: 12%

Many tech industry influencers think of Twitter as little more than a vehicle for extending the reach of their opinions. However, Twitter offers more to influencers than a bigger audience. It can be an aide in strengthening expertise as well. Combining the two agendas — improving expertise and expanding reach — makes good sense. One influencer who’s doing this is John Moore, founder of Chilmark Research.

John is a veteran industry analyst and an opinion leader on IT in the healthcare market. He was recently ranked in the top 50 tech industry analysts on Twitter, in a project using Edelman’s free measurement tool TweetLevel (see earlier post).

He provides a clear description of why and how he uses Twitter, including four tips based on his own experience:

  • Do not write off any technology completely
  • Define your purpose
  • Choose who you follow carefully
  • Be engaged and engaging

Check out the complete post. It’s one of the best explanations I’ve seen for people who are serious about managing their expertise and the reach of their opinions.

Popularity: 5%

Interested in certification as an analyst relations professional? Looking for an analyst relations training course with benefits, such as a certificate of completion? If so, you have several choices for obtaining credentials. Here’s how four AR cert programs stack up, including who offers them, who can take them, what the programs cover, and how much they cost. Plus, some closing thoughts on ROI and funding.

Certification v. certificate of completion

Analyst relations professionals can obtain two types of credentials. It’s important to understand the difference between a certification and a certificate of completion.

Accreditation as a certified Analyst Relations professional: Certification is intended to provide proof of an individual’s overall AR practitioner knowledge. Currently, it requires passing a written test. This designation is the AR equivalent of PRSA’s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) and IABC’s Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) credentials.

Certificate of completion: A certificate of completion provides documented proof that an individual successfully completed a professional development training course in AR. Currently, it does not require passing a written test. This is the AR equivalent of a certificate of completion for a class at a vocational school or college.

The providers: who offers AR certification, training certificates

One professional association and three AR consulting companies offer AR certs:

The IIAR is the only cert provider that does not require candidates to purchase a training course. Instead, the IIAR tests on knowledge they say is best gained on the job and by staying current with the worldwide industry analyst business.

Another difference with the IIAR is that its certification test reflects input from the other 3 cert providers as well as from experienced practitioner members. One consultancy – KCG – provided its entire certification test to the IIAR as raw input.

Training is mandatory for certs from each of the three AR consultancies – KCG, Lighthouse AR and SageCircle. These programs emphasize professional development first; certs are an important yet secondary aspect of their programs. The certification test is an option with KCG. Participants can take the KCG course without completing the certification test.

Attendees will encounter differences in the proprietary courses taught by KCG, Lighthouse AR and SageCircle. Differences can include AR terminology and some of the advocated best practices, tactics and program measurements.

1. Comparing AR Cert Programs at a Glance

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Features
Certification as AR Professional Yes Yes No No
Certificate of Completion No No Yes Yes
Certs Offered 1 lifetime professional certification 1 lifetime professional certification Certificates of completion
in 4 courses
Certificates of completion
in 5 courses
Suggested experience level 2-3 years FT or
3-4 years PT
None needed;
runs from intro to advanced level
Intro,
intermediate & master courses
None needed; starts at intro level
Written Test Required Required No No
Training No Required Required Required
Languages Available English English English, German English
Printed Cert Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cost Per Person Free to IIAR members;
Others: £100
$1,200; group discount $1,250 per course; group discount $495 - $995 per course; group discount
Study Materials Included No Presentations, workbook, copy
of KCG’s book “Influencing the Influencers”
Presentations, workbook, copy of Efrem Mallach’s book “Win Them Over” Presentations, workbook, online library
Add’l Items Bundled in Price 1 re-test, if needed Private inhouse training Private inhouse training; 1-year IIAR membership; Framed large-format certificate of completion Private inhouse training; Framed certificate of completion

  

2. Comparing the Topical Focus of AR Cert Programs

Cert Programs Topics
iiar-logo
  • Detailed knowledge of the industry analyst industry and AR best practices
kcg-logo1
  • Comprehensive understanding of AR professional skills, best practices and processes
lighthousear-logo1
  • Intro to AR
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • Messaging & Influencing Analysts
  • Selling AR Internally
sagecircle-logo
  • AR Social Media Strategy
  • AR Measurement
  • AR-Sales Partnership
  • AR Effectiveness
  • Strategic Issues

  

3. Comparing Options in Testing & Training

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Cert Testing
Length of Written Test 120 questions 52 questions - -
Test Format Online, timed Pre-printed, take home, unlimited completion time - -
Test Pass Rate 70% 90% - -
Re-test Option Yes Yes - -
Cert Training
Training Venue - In person, live webcast or online In person or
live webcast
In person or
live webcast
Duration of Each Course - 1 day (8 hours) 5 hours 5 - 8 hours

  

4. Comparing AR Cert Program Activity

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Cert Program Started Oct 2009 2004 2006 2008
Content Refreshed As needed or Annually Continuously Annually Quarterly
Total No. of Certs Issued Very few 500+ 40 - 50 Declined to comment

  

Bottomline: What’s the ROI?

None of the providers offers ROI analysis or compelling case studies justifying investments in AR certs. Aside from the IIAR, the providers said that the real value is in the experience of their training courses, rather than in obtaining the actual cert.

In addition, awareness of these certs is very low outside of AR circles. None of the four providers is promoting their certs directly to vendor management or to the high tech marketing industry at large. As a result, making the case to management for the time and money required falls squarely on the AR practitioner.

So what is the value of getting a certificate or being certified as an Analyst Relations professional? The four providers say the value lies in:

  • Increasing individual confidence and respect within the AR community
  • Raising the standards of the AR profession
  • Creating competitive advantage for individual recruitment and promotion
  • Establishing a companywide common denominator in AR knowledge, vernacular, practices and processes
  • Meeting company or association requirements for ongoing professional development
  • Tapping into company funds earmarked for professional development

Please add any other AR certificate or certification programs in the comments. I’ll update the post accordingly.

Popularity: 8%

Peggy O’Neill, a San Diego-based board member of the IIAR, has extended an open invite to analyst relations practitioners to the IIAR 2010 kick-off meeting in Silicon Valley. The meeting takes place on Thursday, January 21st at Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose, CA.

Agenda

  • SageCircle’s Carter Lusher will kick off the meeting with a presentation that reviews 2009 trends in the analyst ecosystem and a look ahead for 2010.
  • Peggy O’Neillwill provide a brief update on IIAR initiatives.
  • Cisco will host cocktails at the end of gathering.

Event details
Institute of Industry Analyst Relations 2010 Kickoff Meeting
Date: January 21, 2010
Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Location: Cisco headquarters Building 9, 260 East Tasman Drive, San Jose, CA 95134

RSVP to Peggy [dot] Oneill [at] analystrelations.org or visit the IIAR online.

Popularity: 3%

Barbara on January 18th, 2010

download_t_logo_outlineHow do you measure an influencer’s influence on Twitter? Social media guru Rich Baker (@richard_baker) offers up a great tip from Joe Fernandez (@joefernandez), CEO and cofounder of Klout.com:

“The biggest mistake we see people make is confusing influence with follower count. Having a large number of followers is worthless if those followers are not engaged and paying attention to you.”

Klout.com is a privately held company that measures influence across the social web. For more on Klout.com, read the entire interview.

Popularity: 12%

Barbara on January 18th, 2010

How can industry analysts start relationships with analyst relations professionals? It’s a question posed every day by every analyst wanting to open doors at tech provider firms. Usually, the goal is sales, research or broadening a professional network. Often, analysts want to build rapport with AR pro’s for all 3 reasons. Two posts offer useful pointers on how to succeed:

SageCircle takes an industry insider view on the sales and research front with today’s post, How can small analyst firms get the attention of analyst relations? [Analyst Question] (disclosure: Tekrati is listed as a key resource)

Mashable offers sound advice on the professional networking front with today’s post, 7 Lessons for Better Networking with Social Media

Having influence in some circles does not automatically open doors in others. That applies equally whether you work at Gartner or as a sole proprietor.

Popularity: 6%

Barbara on January 13th, 2010

While tech providers have had formal analyst relations programs for 30-odd years, only Gartner and Forrester Research have reciprocated with influencer programs dedicated to vendor AR teams.  GigaOM Pro, the industry research arm of GigaOM, is about to shake up the status quo with today’s formal debut of their Analyst Relations program.

The GigaOM Pro Analyst Relations program shares some expected similarities with the Gartner and Forrester programs. For example, all three programs require members to be involved in some capacity with analyst relations. All three programs also offer basic benefits to their AR participants, such as more in-depth knowledge about research agendas and decision rationale and special opportunities to get to know analysts and management.

So, what’s different about the GigaOM Pro AR program?

1. AR members receive a free, full access GigaOM Pro account.

2. AR members have full read/write community features. This means that AR members can use the community platform — within reason — to comment on GigaOM Pro research findings and engage with analysts and other subscribers.

3. AR members create a public-facing personal profile page, so that all other community members and analysts can get to know them as well. This is a great opportunity for personal branding and networking as an AR professional - not only with GigaOM Pro analysts but also with GigaOM Pro subscribers. Think about that.

4. AR members can leverage the program to build relations with the pool of GigaOM Pro analysts. It’s a constantly changing group of some of the most influential SOHO tech industry analysts and research-driven thought leaders in North America, handpicked and carefully vetted by the GigaOM Pro team.

You should also consider a few cautionary pointers:

  • Sleuth the community before you start commenting, just as you would with any professional network.
  • If you misbehave — i.e. post inappropriate comments or inappropriate volume of  comments — you may suffer more than having your account closed down. GigaOM attracts a sophisticated and knowledgeable readership. Your company reputation is on the line as much as yours whenever you comment.
  • Be clear with everyone in your organization that this is a program designed specifically for people who handle analyst relations. It is not a doorway into GigaOM for press relations or press releases or a ticket to hijack research.

I strongly recommend this program to AR professionals. Check out the FAQ and if you like what you see, apply online. Or contact Mike Wolf, vice president of research at GigaOM Pro, for more information.

Useful Links

GiagOM Pro Analyst Relations Program - Info & Online Application

GigaOM Pro Analyst Relations Program - FAQ

Popularity: 9%

Solid research is the only way to cut through the chatter about identifying and prioritizing influencers for word-of-mouth marketing and other forms of influencer marketing. Mike Gotta (Burton Group / Gartner ) points out a just such a study, from the pharma industry. I like this study because it focuses on finding the hidden opinion leaders who drive the first wave of word-of-mouth product referrals.

The study identifies two distinct types of opinion leaders among the target physicians: those who are trusted and respected by peers (called sociometric leaders) and those physicians who think of themselves as well connected and influential (called self-reported opinion leaders).

The opinion leaders identified by their peers are not the traditional targets pursued by marketers. If anything, they contradict current marketing wisdom about influencers and influentials. They are not overtly well connected, outgoing or high profile in terms of being published or public speakers.

Three nuggets to think about:

The study finds little overlap between the two types of influencers. Physicians fell into one group or the other.

The under-the-radar opinion leaders are quicker to use new product and more likely to influencer others to try it. This finding is based on matching network data with perscription records.

The under-the-radar sociometric opinion leaders are more interested in what their peers are doing, and are more open to word-of-mouth or social influence, than the self-reported opinion leaders.

Both types of opinion leaders play important roles in robust influencer marketing programs. One group is not better than the other; they’re just different kinds of people. The best course of action is to identify and address both types of opinion leaders. That means doing more research and more segmentation.

Useful links:
Summary at Knowledge@Wharton (hat tip to Mike Gotta)

Opinion Leadership and Social Contagion in New Product Diffusion - by Raghuram Iyengar, Christophe Van den Bulte, and Thomas Valente, 2008 [08-120]

Popularity: 6%