Influence is definitely a concept that many public relations professionals discuss and incorporate into their engagement, conversations, and interactions with others online through various platforms.  So, what are some things that Public Relations professionals need to be aware of about these influencers?  There are certainly many characteristics and attributes of these individuals that need to be looked at presently, but also see if they will change in the future.  Whether it is due to their willingness to share their insights and expertise with others in their community, or focusing on providing insightful comments and points about specific areas happening within your particular industry.  Influence or what others also call social authority does not happen over night – like traditional reputation management practices suggest, having a presence in a community – whether online or offline or even both – takes time, resources, and commitment. 


A few of my colleagues and I just published a recent short research article in Public Relations Review focusing on who are the social media influencers in PR, and what are some of their perceptions based on their personality traits.  The title of the article was “Who are the social media influencers?: A study of public perception and personality.” This study presented the researchers an initial profile looking at the specific personality characteristics of these social media influencers to discuss their SMI Capital.  One of my friends and social media expert Aaron Sachs is currently working on his Master’s Thesis extending this research by looking at the communication skills and how this could effect the credibility of a social media influencer.  We had a meeting to discuss this a few weeks ago and I do believe that Aaron is really on to something with this research on SMIs – very beneficial for both the academic and professional PR community.

One thing that influencers are today are multi-taskers who have to take on multiple roles and responsibilities – and by doing this, they are showing others that they have the capabilities to wear many different hats and be able to move across industries and professions.  However, there are many suggestions on how to grow your community specifically with your blog in terms of making sure that there is a consistent line of flow of information and stories shared on your specific social media platform (blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc) to making sure that you provide energetic content that you are passionate about and you want to share with others that are following your blog.

So, how do you measure influence on social media?  Is it based on the number of followers or people active on your social media site?  There are several sources that can provide you some insight into this particular issue within public relations and social media.  First, you can discuss with others in the community through interviews on who they go to for the most up-to-date information and who they deem to be credible within the specified subject matter.  This can be done through interviews and focus groups with a particular target audience.

Also, there are of course some metrics that show influence by profile as well as by the links that are shared with others on particular social media platforms and the likelihood that these links will be shared with others.  Of course, when it comes to metrics, you have to be aware of 1) the particular key terms that you are using to measure and monitor what is being said 2) understand that some of these search engines will put out the same information – while others may have different results, so it is key to make sure that you have at least a few reliable sources to monitor and evaluate influence for yourself and your personal brand, or those that you are representing and 3) be aware of what people are commenting and sharing from your particular site or platform and make sure that they attribute your work in their post.  There is a difference between citing you and actually taking away your ideas and thoughts and claiming them as their own – but there are ways that you can track to see if this the case.  This first was discussed on Social Media Today by Debra Ellis.

So, as you can see – influence is becoming more and more of a factor not just looking at the metrics from monitoring via social media – but what is key is to understand the various characteristics, attributes, and actions that is creating this influence via social media.  This is something that I hope to explore further not only in my research in public relations and crisis communications, but also help in consulting with various clients on this particular issue as well.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,