Friday, May 07, 2010

"Influencer Relations" On My Mind

I blog in spurts. How often I blog is a reflection of not only how busy I am, but how excited I am about something that is happening in the technology space. Two, three years ago, I was really into a concept that I called knowledge networking. I now find myself spending a lot of time thinking about the notion of "influencer relations". You can also think of it as "analyst relations 2.0".

Through the PR function, technology start-ups spend a good amount of time and resources developing relationships with press and industry analysts. Historically, the number of press and industry analysts that had influence over a market segment was relatively small so the interactions were small in number and quite structured (i.e., scheduled calls/meetings).

Now, however, due to social mediums like blogs and Twitter, anybody with a following can have an impact on a market segment so the notion of influence has been democratized. This has led to an "influencer ecosystem" that is large in number and real-time (with Twitter, in particular). In addition to the top-tier press and analyst community that everybody focuses on, many market segments have hundreds of other people that blog and tweet and who have hundreds, if not thousands, of followers.

The process of evaluating the influencer ecosystem for a market segment and then engaging with a market's influencers in online conversations is what I call "influencer relations". Engaging effectively with market influencers is not easy but it can be a cost-effective and powerful way to increase the awareness of a brand and to generate traffic to a website.

So "influencer relations" is what I am thinking a lot about these days (pretty sad life, huh?). More to come.