Influencer marketing entails many aspects of public relations. Along these lines, CloudNine PR agency is sharing results of its bespoke study of how 300 IT chiefs in the UK prefer to access news and info about the IT industry. I’m quite surprised by 4 findings in particular: LinkedIn ties with vendor emails as a useful or very useful source for 31%; and Twitter and YouTube are on close to even footing as well for about 20%.

What methods do UK IT chiefs find ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’ for keeping up-to-date on IT industry developments, including general news from vendors? Here’s CloudNine PR’s take:

cloud9prinfluencersurvey2010

  1. Online publications 64%
  2. IT blogs 52%
  3. Trade shows 50%
  4. Printed publications 47%
  5. Vendor Events 44%
  6. IT Analyst blogs 40%
  7. IT analyst events 38%
  8. Vendor emails 31%, LinkedIn 31%
  9. Twitter 20%
  10. YouTube 19%
  11. Facebook 13%
  12. SlideShare 12%

About the study: CloudNine PR commissioned Vanson Bourne to conduct the survey. It consisted of a poll of IT decisionmakers, including CIOs, IT directors and IT managers in 300 UK companies. The sample included organisations with 50 to 250 employees, 251 to 1000 employees and over 1000 employees. There was an approximately equal split of companies operating in Financial services; Manufacturing; Retail, Transport and Distribution; and Business and Professional Services.

Popularity: 17%

Barbara on May 17th, 2010

Tekrati is getting a new logo as part of its 10th anniversary update. I’d appreciate your comments before we tear apart the existing Tekrati masthead.

Here’s my top pick (so far):

Tekrati Logo

It’s over in the right column here as well.

If you’re wondering where this came from: Michael Montoya Graphic Design created a fun logo and site design for the Tekrati debut in 2000. Around mid-decade, we skinnied the logo down to the typography. Coming full circle - bringing back the lightbulb and the original color palette - seems a good way of saying, “10 years - yes!”

Popularity: 6%

Barbara on May 12th, 2010

RedMonk’s James Governor offers the most intelligent view I’ve read in a very long time on blogging among the analysts. Here’s an excerpt from his excellent post:

We built RedMonk on social media. Its as simple as that. We had a good run on it through the late noughties. But honestly – the differentiator has been significantly eroded of late. One of our significant differentiators is now business as usual. Our competitors are just as fast to the news as us, if not faster, with solid analysis on either side of the firewall. Gartner and Forrester are both doing outstanding work in real time analysis. Seriously. And Gartner analysts are joining the conversation. - James Governor May 12, 2010

His observations are crucial for analysts, analyst relations and analyst watchers. Why? Gartner, Forrester Research and scores of analyst firms have successfully embedded blogging within their businesses. We’re long past the point where it makes sense to quantify analyst blogging as a discrete individual activity. Blogging is becoming integral to analyst business processes.

I’ve been actively monitoring analyst bloggers since 2003 and in 2005 launched the first directory and OPML of analyst-written blogs. The total number of blogs in early 2005: just over 50. I was committed to supporting those pioneering analyst bloggers. In those early days, the number of blogs — and the who’s who and how many — were factors in whether a given firm or analyst would jump into the fray. Not so today.

But even back then, the analyst community’s real focus was on how blogs fit with analyst business processes and policies. You can read a snapshot of their views in the original 2005 report. These are the topics that still deserve our attention. Even today.

Hats off to James for prodding us all take a fresh look at analyst blogs.

Popularity: 7%

Barbara on May 11th, 2010

I’m not a fan of the growing schism between Altimeter Group and the rest of the analysts. One of the most visible wedges driving this rift is the idea of “rock star analysts.”

“Rock star analyst” is an old notion with deep roots among financial analysts. Originally, rock star analysts were the ones who made the right call the most often, especially on complex decisions. They made their clients the most money. There was a strong body of proof and formal professional consensus behind the status.

Not so on the tech analyst side of the aisle. What does “rock star analyst” mean to analyst relations people and analysts today? It seems to mean an analyst scores high on RSS readership, Twitter following, social net savvy, citations in the media. In short, celebrity status. Customer satisfaction isn’t a meaningful factor, beyond the PR value of the analyst.

What does celebrity status have to do with accuracy, completeness, timeliness? With giving clients great advice?

Why would a decision maker want to hire a celebrity to help with tech decisions?

It’s time for a reality check. Of the many reasons one might hire an analyst, celebrity status is — at best — just one aspect of the package.

Update, for clarification: I’m criticizing the rising popularity of labeling an analyst a “rock star” due to celebrity status. I see Altimeter Group as an unwitting victim of this craze. Ray Wang and his associates have proven their chops as technology & business experts. Putting them on rockstar pedestals strictly because of their social media popularity is insane. And arguably, it’s a disservice to the entire analyst profession. - BF May 12, 2010.

Popularity: 12%

Barbara on May 3rd, 2010

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes and from all corners of a market. It’s tempting to pigeonhole influencers based on their business cards. That’s why many companies maintain discrete influencer marketing programs and measurement systems for the influential press, analysts, customers, consultants, authors, regulators and so on. The trouble is, that’s no longer how the world works. Consider this tweet today by Jeremiah Owyang:

In the past roles around Press, Media, and Analyst relations were clear. Yet, I write for Forbes, publish research reports, and blog. - @jowyang, May 3, 2010

What traditional influencer silo best suits Jeremiah? None. He’s a mix of many.

Likewise, decision-makers don’t think in terms of business cards. They don’t lay out plans to confer with 10 consultants, 9 investigative reporters, 8 industry analysts and a partridge in a pear tree. They confer with informed people who’ve earned their trust and are available when needed.

How can marketing adopt a more realistic view of influencers? A good place to start is agreeing on a common set of words to describe all types of influencers.

I advise keeping this very simple. For example, here are my 3 tents of influencer marketing:

  • Intent: the motivation of the influencer
  • Content: the scope, depth and currency of the influencer’s knowledge
  • Extent: who the influencer influences plus when, how and how much

I like the 3 tents for many reasons, the top most being its emphasis on describing influencers as human beings. Try it. You can just as easily discuss and prioritize tech analysts, politicians and association opinion leaders.

You can only have this kind of conversation if you can describe all of your influencers with the same basic language.

There are no “right” or “wrong” words for describing influencers. What matters most is finding words that make sense across an entire company, and making those words part of the company culture. This is vital in the era of social media.

Companies still need specialized skills to maintain relations with each type of influencer. Adopting a common language for describing influencers is a giant first step towards mixing and allocating these skills more effectively.

Popularity: 17%