In his new book The Business of Influence, chair of the CIPR's measurement group Philip Sheldrake argues that there needs to be a fundamental rethink of PR and marketing in the context of this technology.
Virgin Media's head of consumer media relations Asam Ahmed agrees the impact of technology has altered the landscape. 'Journalists used to be the influencers and your only metric would usually be circulation,' he says. 'But the traditional notion has been changing, driven by social media and online connectivity.'
Social platforms offer the savvy professional valuable insight into individual preferences and who is affecting their opinions. But despite debate raging since the explosion of social media, a definitive answer on how to define and identify the most relevant influencers is yet to be found.
Here we ask five senior digital PROs five key questions to find out how they navigate the tricky concept of measuring and defining influence, and most importantly, identify the elusive influencers.
Question 1: How do you define influence?
Question 2: How has the thinking on online influence changed since a year ago?
Question 3: How do you identify the most relevant influencers for your campaign/client?
Question 4: How do you measure influence, particularly in the digital world?
Question 5: Which are now more influential - traditional or digital media?
Rob Blackie, Head of digital, Blue Rubicon
Michael Darragh, Head of 360 degs Digital Influence, Ogilvy PR, London
Marshall Manson, MD, digital, EMEA, Edelman
Dirk Singer, Founder, Rabbit
James Warren, Chief digital strategist Europe, chief digital creative
officer worldwide, Weber Shandwick
10 tools to find online influencers
1. Skyttle Market Sentinel's suite of products that look at influence across various platforms.
2. Klout has huge traction in the US in finding Twitter influence.
3. Peerindex finds Twitter influence.
4. Tweet Level Edelman's tool to find Twitter influence.
5. Wikio Free list of influential blogs by sector.
6. Cision Free list of influential blogs by sector.
7. Backtype A tool for getting a quick fix on whether a story is spreading when a big issue breaks.
8. Google Offers data on what people are searching for, the language they are using and word associations through its WonderWheel tool.
9. Facebook Has a self-service ad tool that you can use to test how many people are mentioning specific brands or issues in their profiles.
10. Eyes and ears