Barbara on February 11th, 2011

I’m pleased to introduce my new directory of analysts, here at analystdirectory.barbarafrench.net.
This is both a new home and a new version of the Tekrati Directory of Analyst Firms. Let me tell you about it.

From 2000 to noon today, the analyst firms directory was part of Tekrati and I was its managing editor. Tekrati was the online guide to the IT and telecommunications industry analysts. It included 3 directories & OPML, 2 news services & a dozen RSS feeds, a strategic consulting business, and my tips, insights and commentary on the analyst business. By 2011, Tekrati had profiled some 650 analyst firms, published over 12,000 news posts, and hosted 150K to 250K unique visitors each year.

As of today, the analyst directory is a personal curation project and part of my personal blog.

It remains a freely available information resource for anyone — technology buyers, analyst relations professionals, marketers, journalists, analysts, recruiters — looking for experts on the tech and telecoms markets.

Gradually, this new directory will include organizations that employ analysts and produce industry research, regardless of whether they are “analyst firms”. Many industry organizations and corporations produce research on a par with the analyst houses. I’ll be adding them to this directory going forward, so that it becomes a better resource for influencer relations and influencer marketing programs.

Another change: As the directory is now part of my WordPress blog, comments are turned on! Feel free to post comments to any firm listing. That includes factual corrections and informed opinions. I will delete comments that are unprofessional or otherwise downright snarky.

As always: There’s no need to register to browse. There’s no charge for listings. There’s no option to upgrade listings. And, all listings are at my discretion.

Popularity: 88%

Social media has enabled business professionals to quickly grow large spheres of influence in targeted industries. These power users hold the key for marketers trying to gain access to their niche audiences. The question is how to identify who the key B2B influencers are, how do you rise above the noise to capture their attention, and how do you encourage them to become advocates for your brand.

On March 17th, join me for a live streamed event where you’ll hear from Don Bulmer from SAP, Guy Kawasaki from Alltop and Michael Fauscette from IDC as they share what attracts them and learn how you can influence the influencer to become a brand advocate.

thinkinfluence panel

WHEN: March 17, 2011, 8:00-8:45am PDT. Also available for replay.

PARTICIPATE:
Participate from anywhere, by watching the live streamed video webcast and posting questions/comments via Twitter. Or watch the replay. Register at http://www.brighttalk.com/r/kZS

Attend onsite in the panel audience or for a breakfast reception afterwards with the panelists. By invitation only.  Space is limited. Join the Think Influence group on LinkedIn to request an invitation.

PANELISTS:
Don Bulmer, Vice President of Global Communications, SAP AG
Guy Kawasaki, Co-founder, Alltop
Michael Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions, IDC
and moderator Barbara French, President & Managing Editor, Tekrati & Co-founder Think Influence

COST:
Free, however registration is required for the live webcast and replays. Onsite event is by invitation only.

SPONSORSHIPS:
Contact me for info on sponsoring Think Influence events. Contact BrightTALK for sponsoring their Social Media Marketing Summit.

ABOUT
This event is a joint production of Think Influence and BrightTALK. Think Influence is a grassroots community of peers discussing the role of influence in business.

Popularity: 100%

Influencer marketing is progressing from too much hype and trial-by-fire programs to sensible strategies and accepted best practices. There’s no better time than today to re-fresh your thinking about influence — what it is, who has it, what roles it can play in business. I’ll be discussing these topics at next week’s Bay Area Executives Meetup in Mountain View, CA, along with moderator R Ray Wang of Altimeter Group and my co-panelists Michael Brito of Edelman Digital, Ali McCourt of Intuit and Tony Welch of HP. Special thanks to Tatyana Kanzavel for organizing the event and panel!

Register for the Bay Area Executives Meetup: Super Panel on Influence

“The Many Facets Of Influence: How to Outreach, Engage, and Build Trust with Key Stakeholders”

An interactive panel with R Ray Wang, Michael Brito, Barbara French, Ali McCourt & Tony Welch

Tuesday, August 24th
Networking 6:30 - 7:00 PM
Panel 7:00 - 8:30 PM
Location: Samovar Conference Hall, Mountain View, Calif.
Event hashtag: #baexec

The panel will provide perspectives on these critical questions about influence:
1.  What is influence? and how do we align it with business value?
2.  The myths vs. realities of influence
3.  Key success factors of influence
4.  Identifying influencers: who and why?

Space is limited. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door and include gourmet food and wine. Register now to get on the waiting list and (hopefully) get confirmed!

Bring your questions, join the conversation, and engage!

Popularity: 45%

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: 16%

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%

Here’s a way to raise the bar on influencer marketing and influencer relations efforts around Enterprise 2.0 software: map your influencers to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 ROI, a model penned by Hutch Carpenter.

Hutch, an exec with Spigit, coopts Maslow’s classic hierarchy of human needs for a 7-layer pyramid of Enterprise 2.0 benefits. Cost savings is at the bottom, employee satisfaction is at the middle, and organizational agility at the top. He describes associated proof points and challenges of finding proof points for each.

Think about the pyramid from an influencer marketing and influencer relations point of view. You’ll come to the same conclusion that I did: you need different influencers for each step in this pyramid.

maslows-hierarchy-of-enterprise-20-needs

For example, people who have authority on the cost savings benefits of Enterprise 2.0 are not likely to have expertise on the upper steps of the pyramid. Simply put, validating cost of ownership is one thing. Advising on which software is best able to help boost innovation or marshal resources is another.

Here’s a simple way to use the model for evaluating your influencer programs:

  1. Look at the pyramid through the eyes of your customer decision-makers. How do your targeted influencers map to this pyramid? Do you know where your influencers fit?
  2. Look at the pyramid through the eyes of your salesforce. Do you have all 7 steps covered? Do you know your competitors’ preferred influencers for each step?
  3. Look at the pyramid through the eyes of product marketing. Where does your competitive differentiation sit? Do you have a concentration of influencers on that step?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the pyramid shape itself applies to the field of influencers. There’s no shortage of experts on any aspect of Enterprise 2.0. Do look for different kinds of influencers — analysts, peers, consultants, partners, etc. — to round out your coverage.

Hat tip to Zoli Erdos’ and Ben Kepes’ Cloud Avenue.

Popularity: 35%

If you work in influencer relations in Silicon Valley, you want to be at the Churchill Club this Monday March 1st for an evening event featuring John Byrne, Richard Edelman, Paul Bergevin, Peter Diamandis and Frank Shaw.

The event comes on the heels of the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, a global opinion leaders study mentioned in my last post. The Trust Barometer is freely available. Bring your toughest questions or just show up for a great evening of discussion, debate and networking.

I’ll be particularly interested to see how this year’s discussion compares with the 2008 event (my comments).

See you there!

What:
What the Public Believes: New Trends in Corporate Reputation Management
Corporations are in the combat zone, struggling to build back trust among all of their stakeholders in the midst of the global economic crisis. Faced with an overall meltdown in confidence, how is corporate leadership—including marketing, PR, investor relations and public affairs—to respond? How should companies retool their communication strategies and address the right stakeholders with the right issues and strike the right tone? This panel of thought leaders speaks out on the most current trends and strategies for managing corporate reputation and sharpening stakeholder engagement.

Cost
Individual Churchill Club event tickets run $58 - $90, and normally it’s a cash bar. Reg, more info.

Twitter
Hashtag will be #churchillclub.

Popularity: 15%

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%

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%

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%