On December 10, I’ll be doing a webcast on this topic for Lithium along with good friend, Joe Cothrel who in addition to being the VP of Community Management Services at Lithium is one smart dude on community. I thought I’d preview the session here in advance and afterwards add a linked to the recorded content. If you’re interested in attending the webcast, you can register here.
This session will build upon the Influencer Handbook work recently published by WOMMA, for which I was a co-chair and contributing author. In this handbook, the following definitions were offered relative to influencers:
What is an Influencer: A person of greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace.
What is Influencer Marketing: When a marketer identifies, seeks out, and engages with influencers in support of a business objective.
While I was a contributor to these definitions, I’ll be the first to admit they are pretty high level! And therefore, maybe a little too high level to assert prescriptive guidance. To augment this, I’m in the process of authoring an influencer handbook that articulates the end to end steps required in defining, developing and sustaining an influencer program. More on this at a later date, but if you have experience managing a program like this, I’d love to interview you as part of the information gathering process.
So, in the webcast, I’ll be focusing on a set of key questions that these definitions raise that help enable taking first steps towards building a successful influencer program. Here are the questions:
- What is the strategy? What business problem are you trying to solve? To me, these should generally be expressed in one or more (but not all and forced priority) of the following: Reach, Engagement, Adoption, Loyalty, Efficacy or Quality.
- What are the business objectives? Specific improvements your going to make to deliver on the strategy.
- What is the "relevant marketplace"? A question of audience, segmentation and scope.
- How do you define "greater than average reach or impact"? What is the multiplier benefit being contributed by the influencer?
- How do you find or "seek out" these influencers? What’s the desired behavior pattern and how do you find those who exhibit the pattern.
- How do you measure "impact"? Ah yes, we do need to measure the value in ways that tie back to the strategy and objectives.
While there are many potential benefits of an influencer strategy, I see them as uniquely valuable for catalyzing changes (evidence, early warning and feedback)in overall customer experience. With this in mind, I’ll use parts of a presentation I gave at WOMMA 2008 regarding the customer experience challenges inherent in organizations that have been optimized against their functional silos (Product Development, Sales & Marketing, and Service & Support). While communities and social media can offer tremendous insight to these functions, the breadth and depth of the conversations makes "Joining the Conversation" pretty hollow advice. So I’ll explore an approach for "Deconstructing the conversation cloud" depicted here:
I’ll use this model to dive specifically into the "learning cloud" to illustrate the conversations happening in this space, the business value, the connection to business goals and finally the influencers that are the cornerstone of the the activity.
Lastly, I’ll utilize the Microsoft MVP Award program as a case study to review this in action - a program I was responsible for from 2002-2007 - during which it grew from approximately 800 recognized influencers to over 4000 individuals. In looking at this case study, we’ll talk about the fundamental pillars of finding, thanking and engaging as well as answers to the questions posed above to illustrate the model.
So, please join us for the webcast or watch later on demand. I’d love to hear your experiences, questions and ideas around influencer programs. And of course, if your organization is considering such a program and interested in outside guidance, advice and or assistance, I’d love to talk ().
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