Attached is a 2011 updated version 0f a 2009 presentation I curated about “Engaging Influencers”. Although we spend about 5 pages in Wikibrands (Chapter 8 – Incentives and Outreach) on the subject, it continues to be a fascination of mine. In fact, Wikipedia was nice enough to accredit  us (and my agency Agent Wildfire) with knowing something on the subject.

The key questions I find so fascinating and messy to comprehend at times. Why are some people listened to while others are not? What magical powers do people have that causes others to follow them and influence what others buy, think and do? How, in the mainstreaming of the social web, has individual influence changed? What is the best categorization of these people as many of them seem to draw on different powers? Why do people find it unpleasant to admit that there are those among us who based on the power of charisma, passion, charm, connection, celebrity, creativity or knowledge, have better social clout?

I’m biased, but since there is a very little written about the subject currently, many people would rather speak to the wisdom and power of crowds and the overriding power and advancement of social media and technology and increasingly, many of top social networks like to disguise the inequity of participation and influence online, the presentation attached provides one of the more thorough overviews on the subject noting:

– 8 smart people’s quotes on the subject

– 6 pieces of evidence from the social web

– 4 caveats on how influence can be harnessed

– the Community Richter Scale and how influence is unevenly distributed

– 6 types of influencers profiles (in order of adoption) – the tastemaker, the trendspotter, the opinion leader, the expert, the social ringleader, the grassroots celebrity

– The RECs influencer formula – reach, exposure, credibility and suasion

– Online and social media metrics

– 7 traits of an influencer

– 14 tips in outreaching to these people

– the 5 steps involved in pulling together a business/brand influencer program (which my marketing services group conveniently has specialized in for the last 6 years, trust us we’ve learned some valuable lessons the hard way)

If there has been a blindspot in understanding how to leverage connected technologies and the social web, I will let academic pioneer and communications genius Everett Rogers provide the summary critique “The diffusion of innovation is based more on sociology and psychology than on technology.” Bang on, Everett.

Customers (and influencers) are human, at least  in 99% of the environments we study. They can be irrational, they can act like herd animals and much like alphas and betas in lion prides, monkey troops and buffalo herds, humans too instinctively follow the leaders among us. So as much as we live on the democratic “one voice, one vote” web, truly, some of these people are not like the others.

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