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:
- Online publications 64%
- IT blogs 52%
- Trade shows 50%
- Printed publications 47%
- Vendor Events 44%
- IT Analyst blogs 40%
- IT analyst events 38%
- Vendor emails 31%, LinkedIn 31%
- Twitter 20%
- YouTube 19%
- Facebook 13%
- 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.
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.
“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.”
You can’t do influencer relations without a good set of tools for identifying influencers and measuring and tracking their influence. Here’s a new tool for your consideration: Edelman’s TweetLevel, by Jonny Bentwood. TweetLevel calculates an “importance” rating of 0-100 for anyone with a Twitter handle. And, it’s free to use.
Most of the big agencies provide their clients with pricey dashboards and services for monitoring company reputation, PR programs and more. So it’s refreshing to see this Twitter discovery and ranking tool out in the public domain offered free of charge.
The total “importance” score is based on measurements in 4 areas: influence, popularity, engagement and trust. The underlying data comes from a combination of respected 3rd party influence/activity ranking sources, such as TwInfluence, and original Edelman calculations.
TweetLevel saves you time and gives you repeatable results, which we all need. From there, it’s up to you. It can’t tell you who the influencer is engaged with or whether the Twitter exchanges are positive, negative or neutral.
How would you use it today? A couple of ways to consider even now, during beta:
Around mid-decade we went through a phase where corporations and agencies considered creating jobs such as “Manager, Blogger Relations”. Â To this day that makes a lot of sense if you happen to work for a company that provides blog software, blog design, blog hosting, blog monitoring. For other kinds of companies, not so much. Because for other types of companies, blogs are just another communications vehicle. So are microblogs, like Twitter.
Chances are good that your company needs deep expertise in social media. Fill that need.Â Position yourself as the lead on the tech or the techniques.Â That’s a good thing to do.
But don’t let your expert role turn into a marketing silo. Social media specialization is a skill set — and a hot one — but that’s all it is.
Many C-level executives are deciding they can’t afford the luxury of marketing professionals with limited expertise, no matter how hot. They know that’s not the way markets operate. People touch companies through multiple channels — broadcast media, digital media, store visits, review sites, picking up the phone, writing an email, reading a newsletter and most importantly, through everyday casual 1-on-1 conversations taking place offline with people they know and trust. Blogs and Twitter alone won’t cut it — even Comcast’s Frank Eliason says so.
So get out there and bring your company into the 21st century.Â Just don’t let anyone stuff you into a marketing silo along the way.
Scott Brinker blogged about propinquity and Twitter last week. I’d never heard the word propinquity before. However, propinquity seems to be a label for a familiar concept — the notion that physical promixity promotes relationships. My parents harped about that while I was a teen. Happily, Scott takes a different tack. He suggests that social media applications such as Twitter may wear down the effects of physical promixity in relationship dynamics. I wonder what kind of effect they will have on relationships with influencers. And how we will measure it.
Today, we use several criteria for measuring influence for our Influencer50 clients. Our metrics include factors such as an influencer’s
- market reach
- frequency of impact
- quality of impact
- closeness to decision
“Closeness to decision” is where propinquity comes into play. We include physical proximity and timing in this metric. So, we already think of closeness to a decision as a measure of more than physical distance.
It’s not hard to envision extending “closeness to decision” with new metrics focused on social media, mobile communications, or both.
Several companies already use Twitter as a way to engage with influencers and customer conversations online. Duncan has written about this development in The Influencer, our free newsletter.
One thing is clear. We haven’t gotten our collective heads around the implications of social media in terms of influence. We’re still caught up in early adopter personalities and tactics.
Sometime soon, we’ll need to stop counting social media links and echoes. We need to start agreeing on what counts as distance and what counts as closeness and what counts as influence.
Two important points from the discussion:
1. Influence is in the eye of the audience.
2. No such thing as a universal grade for influence.
As for MrTweet: I’m on the record as a died-in-the-wool skeptic on these kinds of applications. None have given me worthwhile recommendations or insights to date. Now MrTweet is in the hot seat. I’ve followed MrTweet and will share my thoughts once it returns something. As with so many of these social network applications, MrTweet puts an awfully big stake in the ground:
“I’ll suggest to you which influencers and followers you should check out.”
OK, MrTweet. Pimp my twitterverse.