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.

Activity

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.

Consistency

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.