I read about the term “influencer” daily. I probably use the term at least once a day myself. But who is an influencer in 2011 and what does it mean for our traditional and non-traditional PR practice here at GroundFloor Media?
If I knew the exact answer, I bet I’d be rich. Or maybe at least I’d have a book deal.
I personally believe that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all influencer. The person who can move the needle for a national food chain is completely different from the person who can positively impact the way people perceive and talk about a professional services company. The food industry influencer could be a nutritionist, turned blogger, turned author, turned national morning show correspondent. The professional services influencer could be a former analyst who is now on the speaking and networking circuit for his or her industry. And for me, putting the pieces of this influencer puzzle together for our clients is half the fun of influencer relations.
Not everyone with a blog or a Twitter account should automatically be given the powerful title of an influencer. I’m not arguing that at all. There seems to be a new tool every day to help us measure the reach of such influencers – Klout, Radian 6, Sysomos, GroupHigh, and so on. It takes tools like these, and a healthy dose of research combined with a bit of common sense and a little luck, to find the one trait that all influencers should have – a loyal following of people who inherently trust this person and look to them for honesty above all else.
Take Hungry-Girl for example. Lisa Lillien has built an incredible brand and name for herself among women who want to make healthier choices without sacrificing a lot of time, money or energy in their quest to lose weight and get fit. I met Lisa in a professional setting years ago—she had a website, a newsletter and big aspirations. Fast forward a few years and she has multiple books, national tours, countless national TV segments under her belt, and an intensely loyal following that yields incredible results for the brands she gets behind. Was she an influencer when we first met? A lot of people might have argued no. Are they kicking themselves today? You bet.
There is no simple formula (that I know of) for how to approach influencer relations. But that shouldn’t stop you from going after it and making it work for your brand or service. Yesterday’s New York Times food critic is today’s Lisa Lillien. Don’t miss the opportunity to build these relationships before they pass you by!