Influencers, simply put, are those whose ideas and
accomplishments go beyond being inspiration. They provide new ways of solving
problems. They define trends, services, and evaluate products with the expertise
that inspires trust.
In the mire of the online "swamp," it's difficult to define who matters within IT. The benefit of today's social media landscape is that no matter who they are, once you identify an influencer you have the opportunity to engage, seek feedback/insight, and converse with them about the products and services they cover.
The value in this engagement can manifest itself in many ways, from direct influence into a service you or your company offers to simple conversation about predictions within your field. Influencers also can shape the buyer's decision and because of this, any input into the product or service being created or advanced should be highly valued. The challenge for anyone interested in finding the right person is weeding through all the "pretenders" who portray themselves as titans of industry. Below is a criterion for defining influencers within IT.
Most influencers are active on all channels within media. Most favor a specific medium (their site, Twitter, Google+, etc.) but usually they are everywhere. Look at their channels and the content being shared.
Here are just a few questions to ask when looking online:
- Are the channels industry-specific?
- In social, are they getting shared and retweeted?
- Do their summations reflect new ideas and directions within their field?
Influencers regularly attend conferences and/or speak in
front of groups related to their industry. They also usually own a site/blog
and write…a lot. Their articles can be found in tweets, posts, and other forms
throughout the online world. With each post, look at the comments. Are there
any? What is the page rank of their site and how many subscribers do they have?
Finally, does the particular person add value to the industry conversation? You
can measure this in the comments, tweets, and overall engagement where you can
see the dialogue going on about a particular topic.
Example in Cloud Computing: Adrian Cockcroft, Cloud Architect at Netflix:
Mr. Cockcroft managed a team that implemented a scalable cloud based personalized web page and algorithm platform and is one of the main reasons why Netflix is so amazing. He has a large following on Twitter, is constantly invited to speak at IT events, and writes articles pertinent to his audience.
Influencers never stop because the passion that drives them is directly related to the customer experience. In your evaluation of who to connect with, do the people you're considering consistently speak, write, blog, contribute, and participate in social sharing? Their expertise is the result of their passion, so look for evidence of said passion when you evaluate who to follow.
Example in Solid State Storage: Duncan Epping, owner of yellow-bricks.com and Principal Architect at VMware:
Mr. Epping is consistently active on all social channels (11,983 twitter followers), is regularly asked to speak at conferences and is a prolific writer about the happenings of his industry. He is a true expert.
The golden question
Influencers regularly ask the question, "What is good for my followers?" This means that they only share what will empower those that listen to them. Gone is the time when those with influence are measured simply through social media metrics and online popularity. The rate at which technology changes requires those within to be sharper and ahead of the next big change. It's about spreading the knowledge, making the job easier, and sharing new ideas which change not just how we see the product or service, but the world as whole.
Joseph Parker has worked in management, supply chain metrics, and business/marketing strategy with small and large businesses for more than 10 years. His experience in development is personal, stemming from his work in mobile marketing and application technology. He is an avid reader of industry publications and follows the ongoing technological trends stemming from software and product development. He is an inbound marketer, avid blogger, and content provider for many business blogs.