I read this today morning http://getlittlebird.com/2013/04/how-to-influence-the-influencers-ask-for-their-advice/ and thought it was good advice . Influencers – they are an invaluable source of information to any vendor , and the good ones can help you do course corrections before you do something awful .
For a brief period , SAP considered me as an influencer . First as an SAP mentor and then also as a blogger . It also probably played some part in SAP hiring me . And now I deal with several influencers as an SAP employee, similar to what I did as an IBMer till last year.
I never quite figured out why there are multiple categories of influencers – analysts, bloggers, press , mentors et al. I am not a communications expert – so I trust there is some good reason that such distinctions exist . As someone who talks to most of the “50 shades of influencers” , I don’t personally see any difference in the quality of input I get . Maybe it is just organizational inertia to change an existing model .
In my opinion – choosing Influencers is exactly like choosing your mentors . It is never easy . It is a complex balancing act – you need to establish long term relationship with the best of them, but you also need to keep bringing in new ones to negate any bias . All influencers have some bias – which is why you should have more than one to begin with . However , if you stick to the same ones for an extended period – your chance of getting fresh new ideas will decrease quite a bit . And after some time passes, you would have influenced your influencers too much in reverse and will start painfully wondering why you seem to be stuck in echo chambers all the time .
In my opinion, it is probably safer for both sides to introduce a retirement scheme for all influencer programs . A change of scenery can do wonders for ones perspective . And if it is a planned activity, it will feel more like a nice vacation than a divorce . Sure you will lose a bit of continuity and comfort feel – but it is a small punishment compared to the doomed echo chamber !