There has been much discussion of late regarding influencers. How do you identify an influencer? How do you measure their value? And how do you talk to people who don’t necessarily understand that influencers aren’t one-size-fits-all? (In fact, Justin Goldsborough, Fleishman-Hillard Kansas City, asked a similar question in a recent post on his blog www.justincaseyouwerewondering.com.)
After hearing Coyne PR’s Dr. Norman Booth, at the PRSA NJ Measurement and Evaluation workshop on Monitoring and Determining ROI for Digital/Social Media, briefly discuss mathematical modeling to help identify influencers and optimize conversation – that evening, I found myself heading over to the Coyne PR website. I found a white paper he authored, Mapping and Leveraging Influencers in Social Media To Shape Corporate Brand Perceptions. The paper reviews a customizable valuation algorithm to identify social media influencers.
In examining the strategy to optimize blogger outreach, I decided to take a deeper dive into Step Three: “Engage and Socialize.” This critical step offers the potential to transition influencers into advocates and even brand evangelists. Likewise, there is room for antagonizing influencers and actually damaging credibility. Booth’s key points under this step, as I understood them, include:
- Clearly identify intent
- Topic before relevance
- Ask, don’t tell
- Say “thank you”
- Comment on relevant postings
- Follow on Twitter and social aggregators
- Connect on social networking sites
These are excellent points. To them, I would also add “consistency in behavior over time.” The paper concludes, noting, “While the fundamentals of public relations are essentially the same as social media relations, the addition of this new marketing channel allows practitioners to engage with influencers one on one.”
Just as I said in my previous Fresh Ideas post, that no matter how influential a person is reported to be if they aren’t the right one for your campaign or media relations objectives, they’re not going to be able to convince your audience to do what you want. The same applies for relationships.
Public relations, and social media relations, are about relationships. So what if you’ve “engaged” Oprah, if you haven’t established a credible rapport? Creating relationships, building trust and loyalty, is not something you can expect to do with a tweet or comment. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Relationships require ongoing communication (from all parties); social media simply offers you the tools to engage in more frequent and targeted ongoing communication.
Are you using social media to build relationships? What do you think are the essential elements for developing relationships online? Are you using any type of mathematical modeling to help you understand influence and sustain blogger outreach?