One of the areas within public relations and social media that is currently being discussed in various campaigns and research project how to reach some of these third-party endorsers, and who these individuals are. Most of the business community calls these individuals social media influencers.
Social media influencers are individuals who have an established presence online and on multiple platforms, and who are viewed as being engaging, transparent in sharing their knowledge and insights to the online community, and are viewed as being a credible source of information. These individuals also serve as the connecter between multiple groups and communities online – where they branch out their own personal brand to fit the specific audience they are targeting and having a dialogue with. But there is another term that is circulating online that is similar to social media influencers, but more like visionaries when it comes to new technology and social media. There are those professionals and researchers that are so cutting edge and innovative in their conceptualization of what is going on with social media that they are light years ahead of where everyone is at in both practice and in research. It is very exciting as an emerging public relations researcher and professional to see some of the work that is being done in this area.
With both social media influencers and visionaries, is one category better than the other? Social media influencers are considered to be experts, and who are willing to share their knowledge and personalize their conversations with their online and offline audiences. Visionaries fit in the same category, but I would say that they are a few steps ahead of the social media influencers and move at a quicker speed in terms of researching and implementing the new technology in their work. I would say that a combination of these two groups would be the best of both worlds, which I would conceptualize as being social media providers. Social media providers are those individuals that can see where the technology is going, how it is going to evolve and change over time, and continue to research this as part of their research line. According to the Keirsey website, a provider is someone who is:
“Highly cooperative themselves, Providers are skilled in maintaining teamwork among their helpers, and are also tireless in their attention to the details of furnishing goods and services. They make excellent chairpersons in charge of dances, banquets, class reunions, charity fund-raisers, and the like. They are without peer as masters of ceremonies, able to speak publicly with ease and confidence. And they are outstanding hosts or hostesses, knowing everyone by name, and seemingly aware of what everyone’s been doing. Providers love to entertain, and are always concerned about the needs of their guests, wanting to make sure that all are involved and provided for.Friendly, outgoing, neighborly – in a word, Providers are gregarious, so much so that they can become restless when isolated from people. They love to talk with others, and will often strike up a conversation with strangers and chat pleasantly about any topic that comes to mind. Friendships matter a great deal to Providers, and their conversations with friends often touch on good times from years past. Family traditions are also sacred to them, and they carefully observe birthdays and anniversaries. In addition, Providers show a delightful fascination with news of their friends and neighbors. If we wish to know what’s been going on in the local community, school, or church, they’re happy to fill us in on all the details.”
In addition, they are willing to share this knowledge and discuss the implications of this to both researchers and practitioners alike. They are able to take these complex findings from the research and able to communicate it to various audiences in a coherent manner. Also, social media providers have to look at the various scenario they are faced with in practice or research, look at the various possibilities for the new technology, and provide the person / organization the research questions they need to ask in exploring the phenomenon within social media in question, or discuss the various strategies that could be implemented based on the research and new technologies available. The new wave of public relations professionals (both in research and in practice) operating in social media have to be providers.
So, the questions is how do you become a social media provider? Well, a good starting point is to make sure that you have the resources and materials that keep you updated on what is going on in the field and what are the new emerging technologies. It is important to make sure that you keep yourself current and up-to-date on what is going on not only in the field of Public Relations, but also in other disciplines that are also studying social media. Second, look at what are some of the areas or interests among your online community, and think ahead of which sites and research you have seen that could possibly be beneficial in helping this person, professional, or researcher in their job or project. By taking the initiative of helping someone and providing them with information, you are doing several things: 1) you are establishing a long-term proactive professional relationship ; 2) you are creating your own influence with your expertise in the area of social media, and 3) you are willing to share your knowledge with others, and a little bit goes a long way. You have to make sure that you are consistent with sharing information and having a proactive and engaging dialogue with your followers and others online.
Hope you all are having a wonderful day!