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The Rise of “Influencer Relations”: 3 Ways to Cut Out the Noise

Who should be responsible for "influencer relations"? Is this a role for PR? For analyst relations?

Sitting in a room full of analyst relations pros recently, there were the questions that came up. Social media has changed the game for nearly every profession. PR and AR are no exceptions. The landscape of journalists and analysts, which used to be fairly easy to define, is now more crowded with bloggers, consultants, and many more “experts” and “gurus” on Twitter. They may not fit into the obvious, designated buckets of the analyst or public relations pro, but they definitely impact the industry.

For most, influencer relations will indeed fall to the PR and AR department. The bigger issue is defining who among these many potential influencers matters? Who belongs on your contact list?

“I really do my homework on a person, check out their blog posts, comments, tweets, what they tweet about and other available resources (like Klout, Cision) before I make any decision on who is and isn’t an influencer," Susan Koutalakis, Senior Public Relations Manager at Mzinga, told me.

Good advice. I've got three additional tips for influencer relations:

1. Focus on Who Matters
There are a lot of noisemakers out there, especially when it comes to social media. Focus and figure out who’s meaningful to your business. Who does your customers listen to? Have conversations with your sales team and others on the front line and then determine who matters and who doesn’t.

2. Get Organized
Be sure to take a thorough approach to your research when looking into a potential influencer. Read their blog posts and Twitter feed. Do you see this person frequently popping up in relevant LinkedIn discussions answering questions and offering advice? There are some great tools out there such as Klout, Radian6, and Vocus which can help you shed light on the influencers in your space. These tools are definitely not the end all and be all, but they can be immensely helpful.

3. Scale
Depending on your industry, you may find quite a few “influencers” out there. The Mobile or Social Media space, for example, has hundreds of bloggers. So, unless you have a massive team to frequently monitor and follow up with everyone claiming expert status, you’ll need to scale your efforts. Limit your influencer list to a comfortable number: 25-50. It obviously depends on your unique market and who you’ve deemed influential but keep it manageable.

How do you distinguish a noisemaker from an industry influencer? How do you distinguish yourself as an influencer?

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