ViewPoint

Aug 09

Influencer Identification: How to Choose the People that Matter

By Elissa Ehrlich

Every PR pro knows that a media relations campaign will fall flat if the right media targets aren’t identified. Likewise, when designing an influencer relations program, identifying the people with which to engage is paramount to its success. But unlike a media campaign, developing the perfect influencer list is not a cut-and-dry process. That’s because the elements that make an influencer prominent and relevant are multi-faceted. It’s especially critical to get this piece right since most influencer relations programs focus on only a handful of people – taking the time to build and deepen quality relationships with a select few.

From a high level, “industry influencers” are the people that our clients’ buyers listen to and learn from. Influencers run the gamut of bloggers, consultants, academics, authors and business executives (and often one person will take on several of these roles). Influencers are often very active on social media, but they are also out in the “real world” speaking at conferences, writing books, providing their expertise to journalists, teaching classes and consulting. To this end, there are many factors to consider when determining whether a specific influencer should make your short list that go well beyond their number of Twitter followers.

Consider all avenues

At Version 2.0, we’ve designed a proprietary formula for influencer selection using a scoring system. The scores are based on frequency and prominence around a variety of factors, such as:

– Social media posts and followers
– Published blogs, articles and books
– Columns or quotes in media outlets
– Speaking engagements
– Corporate relationships
– Geographic location

Considering the weight of the influencer’s activity around each factor, scores are then calculated for each potential influencer and engagement is prioritized for the highest scorers.

Don’t be too scientific

While our influencer scoring system is a fantastic compass for influencer prioritization, there are some factors that simply cannot be measured. Namely, authority within a particular, focused industry is one of the top aspects to consider. Perhaps you’ve found an influencer who is an expert in your client’s specific line of business, but he or she only has a thousand Twitter followers. On a gut level, you likely know that helping your client forge a relationship with this person will move the needle against their goals, influencing one of the key people your clients’ audiences look to for advice.

Ultimately, much like how we engage with journalists on behalf of our clients, smart influencer identification is both a science and an art.

To learn more about influencer relations, check out my recent Influencer Relations 101 post.

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