The influencer relationship management (IRM) market is projected to grow to $5-10 billion by 2020. While it’s a great way to engage external influencers to promote your brand, and your products and services, it’s also a rapidly maturing and evolving discipline that requires a well thought-out strategy, the development of two-way long-term relationships with influencers, and careful attention to detail during execution.
With the New York Times recently reporting on the issues surrounding purchased influence (i.e. purchased fake followers) in “The Follower Factory”, one of the issues has become how to select authentic influencers from among the pack.
One of the issues with influencer rankings is that they most often look solely at social media – measuring followers, connections, tweets, likes and shares. This can be highly valuable if you’re looking exclusively for influencers who can help amplify your message via their social networks, but it can also be susceptible to individuals who are gaming the system.
Typical influencer rankings, while highly valuable, do not measure thought leadership, are susceptible to brute force (i.e. excessive postings to move up in the rankings), may rank individuals broadcasting only 3rd party content, have no measure of content quality, and the gamification nature of the rankings encourages spamming.
The social media “fake follower” crisis has therefore created a compelling need to find authentic influencers as well as authentic thought leaders who are experts in their fields. For this reason, I believe that the future of influencer relationship management as a discipline will expand and diversify to include a focus on expert relationship management as well.
In identifying and working with authentic experts in the future, organizations will need tools and techniques to help them understand not only who the authentic experts are, but the kind of hats they wear as a thought leader – i.e. are they primarily an academic, an author, an influencer, or a speaker, for example, or perhaps a unique combination of some of the above?
So, once you find your authentic experts, it’s also important to determine the kind of experts you’re after in terms of pure influencers and/or those with additional thought leadership and expertise that they bring to the table as part of their influence. One of the goals of Thinkers360 is to help take a holistic view of a thought leader across their many roles as an academic, author, entrepreneur, influencer, inventor and/or speaker and to serve as a showcase for their “collected works”.
While these experts may not call themselves “thought leaders” (i.e. it’s better assigned to someone, than claimed by someone), we can use this term as an umbrella term that looks at all these hats they may wear, and all the types of thought leadership output they may produce – whether it’s via articles, blogs, books, media interviews, podcasts, social media, speaking events, webinars or whitepapers.
The Thinkers360 patent-pending algorithm helps to produce ratings and rankings that look across all thought leader roles and across the quantity and quality of their thought leadership. We believe it provides a better measure of thought leadership, encourages genuine content creation, incorporates influence as one of the measures, and encourages richer profiles and portfolios through gamification.
Of course, no measurement system related to influence or to thought leadership can be anywhere near perfect, but we believe that the thought leadership scoring and ranking system within Thinkers360 can be a useful complement to your existing IRM programs and platforms and help you prepare for the road ahead. Specifically, it can help you to broaden your focus to identifying, cultivating and managing your internal experts and thought leaders as well as external experts and thought leaders to complement your external influencer groups.
If you’d like to join us on this journey, we invite you to request a free consultation on our enterprise platform for thought-leading brands and organizations here. We also offer advisory and consulting services, as well as sponsored leaderboards, and would be delighted to speak with you any time.