There’s a lot of content out there and a lot of people creating stuff. How do you know who to pay attention to and who’s just mucking around? Remember, even a no friend nellie can drag you onto the front pages of the Saturday newspaper if they write right, but in the main, it pays to know if someone is actually an influencer or not. Oh and if they tick the following criteria in the field of social media-ness, then they are social media experts.
When you are researching online for influential bloggers and twitterers, bear in mind these points:
- Academics – society confers influence on academics because they have either researched themselves or studied those who have researched, a subject. An academic blogger of note would confer respectability to your enterprise [ensure before approaching that they are not funded by you or the competition]. I will sometimes use academic research to back up a story that otherwise appears a little frivolous. Always useful to connect with academics.
- Authors – being published in print confers instant influencer status. Except possibly in social media where one should maybe have a less traditional and more social publishing history. An example of an author with influence online would be @neilhimself (Neil Gaiman, author) or the blog of the Freakonomics guys. As authors are learning that a substantial online presence helps sell books, more are coming into the influencer sphere. The support their community gives them when writing their next books is often paid back in recognition, thereby reaffirming the author’s role as influencer.
- Politicians – politicians have conferred influence. They speak with two voices – the personal one and the political one. Very we, the people. Politicians more than any other tribe usually understand that their influence (and the hassles that goes with it) is not personal. President of Iran or the Member for Wentworth, politicans make good stablemates if you can get them to blog about your stuff. Good luck with that though!
- Traditional media – not journoggers but journalists that genuinely blog for other the love of writing or a genuine interest in storytelling. As influencers they are an odd one – journalists historically do not come down on the side of passion for the subject but an impartial voice. If you are looking to engage journalists online as influencers, find someone like Mia Freedman who already knows the PR score and value of her blog. Reminder: Check for tone and politics [I’m not talking about SMH blogs, but hobby blogs by journalists]
N.B. If traditional media consistently quotes someone as an expert (influencer) pay attention. They have already done the filtering for you!
- Celebrities – need I say more? celebrities usually bring crowds and traditional media to their causes and topics of discussion. @plusk (Ashton Kutcher) has 10 million followers. Lindsay Lohan blogs and tweets. Kim Kardashian. Maybe they are famous for being famous, but if you are looking for an influencer to shine some attention on your products or services, be prepared to pay to hire ’em. I’m going to lump sports stars, musicians and bands, fashionistas in this lot – the same kind of influence (real world crowds, paparazzi, used to the Public voice).
- Charisma – not the same as celebrity which may rely more on a good PR machine than any real personality, this person would be interesting in pitch black darkness. Strength of personality is a key trait, an opinion, a great smile. This is not beauty or handsomeness, but a cosmic force. Cannot be ignored but could be a bit diva-ish.
- Corporate – industry leaders such as CEOs and financial backers carry their own influence. Money is influence. But it’s not just the money, it’s the connections. If Richard Branson tweets your startup business or some other CEO blogs about your products, their readers may well be in the same circles they are in.
- The Visionary – probably a better term will come to me. Maybe futurist? We don’t always know what they are saying but we suspect it is important. Not a huge number of followers but ardent fans. A little out there, but never ignored not even by the trendiest most popular of influencers. Sometimes combined with The Engineer the guy who knows how it works and how it should work and isn’t interested in gossip just the facts ma’am. Excellent for technology promotions or where the product is either cutting edge or really quite good.
- OldTimers – usually these people have longevity. They may not be at the top of their profession, in the sense of moving onwards and upwards to better things, but they ‘ve been around long enough to know everyone, seen everything, and have a story or two to tell. Their influence is incalculable, and their connections and sense of history vast. When connecting with influencers in an online community, you may want to seek them out first. They can explain the politics and who will support you and who won’t. Helpful ones will pass you on with a recommendation.
- Award winners – we do love award winners. They become self fulfilling. Why? Because a jury of our betters have already done our filtering for us. The more awards someone wins the more they will win. The C.V. just looks too delicious to ignore. When connecting with award winners, whether they be BAFTA or Olympics, ensure their personal brand meshes with yours.
- Crowd gatherers – they have the most followers on Twitter and lots of commenters on their blog but you can’t quite figure out why. Mostly it’s because they are personable (not the same as charisma) and don’t upset people. They value connections over original thought or “quality”.
- The Mover and Shaker – similar to the oldtimer this person doesn’t want the hordes following them but is a name dropper. They know the best parties, who to call, what to do. Social grace ad infinitum. They won’t follow you back on Twitter until they are sure you have some “value” to them as a “friend”. Definitely an influencer, but they value their connections and don’t pass on quality connections easily. Well, $40k gets you to Prince Andrew I guess. Easily overlooked as they are standing next to the celebrity influencer.
- The Practitioner – oodles of experience in their field. Clear communication style, popular as a teacher, consultant, and with the Press. Deep knowledge. They may not be a celebrity or have charisma but they are judged on what they have done, experience-wise. As influencers they are probably the most sought after as they bring gravitas, connections and oodles of respect.
- Vox Pop – an unconscious influencer. I don’t mean Man on The Street, which is a chance opinion or influence. The Vox Pop character does the right thing to say and do for their generation. Think of Millenials that you know. Some seem “mature for their age”. It’s not them. I mean the ones that dress and talk and act unconsciously, exactly as their generation. These voices just purely and simply reflect back the thoughts and writings of their time. I love finding these influencers. All their generation gravitate to them, as spotlights. Paris Hilton was one, Corey Worthington and so on. Their influence comes from simply reflecting back current values. Invaluable.
So, are you an influencer in your field? Are there other attributes that an influencer may have? What’s missing from the list?
I reckon I could put a social media expert in everyone of these fields. Some in more than one. But I’m not gonna… 😛
EDIT: I’ll add some example links after dinner. I don’t suppose you have any for me?