In this brave new world where every marketer is turning over rocks trying to find “influencers,” there’s an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
If someone promotes himself/herself as an “influencer,” they probably won’t be able to do you any good.
You should really be looking for a smart person who happens to have influence (or perhaps “Whuffie” according to Tara Hunt).
Self-described “influencers” used to go by other names…guru, ninja, rockstar, thought leader…it probably dates all the way back to when Caveman Urp tried to tell Caveman Ack how many tribe members were using his new square wheel.
So how do you identify a person with influence, as opposed to an “influencer?”
Here’s my checklist, to help you get started:
- Acknowledged credibility within a certain subject area – Look for some type of external endorsement that the person is an expert (if you want to know about middle school fashion trends, go to a middle schooler).
- Lots of engagement (two-way, not just one-way) – Lots of followers is not enough; they must be able to motivate the followers to engage (and hopefully purchase). Look for comments, replies, likes and conversation.
- Great communication skills – You don’t want someone representing your brand if they can’t write or speak with authority.
- Systematic curiosity – Find someone who demonstrates a thirst to learn; those are the people who usually share their experiences too. Think Tim Ferriss.
- Track record of successful recommendations in the past – You want to work with someone who commands trust and respect that has been earned over time. It’s not enough that they make recommendations; it’s that they make recommendations that are valuable to their audience, over and over.
- No focus on “influencing”, focus on something else and the influence is incidental – If they have #influencer in their bio, walk away.
Are you working with influencers? Have you seen success with that strategy? Please share your insights with us!
Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for Social Strata — makers of the Hoop.la community platform. Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee
Featured image via Flickr CC: FaceMePLS