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.