PR News Survey: How Do You Define ‘Influencer’?

Identifying and measuring influencers is a key step in the PR process, and the rise of digital/social media makes that process all the more complex and time-consuming. Leading up to the March 1 PR News PR Measurement Conference held in Washington, D.C., we asked communicators one question: How do you define "influencer" in your market? Out of 100 responses, we picked the 10 most compelling definitions, which are below, in no particular order:

“One who inspires, has impact, causes action, stimulates responses, and accrues through his or her body of work respect from peers and the public at large.”   

“An influencer is defined the same today as 50 years ago: someone whose opinion others seek and repeat. I don't think this definition changes simply because the platform has shifted from radio to TV to Facebook.”

“Anyone who impacts the decision to purchase.”

“A person who through their actions and words has the power to command (not demand) behavior or change attitudes. It isn't judged by the number of connections but by how those connections are impacted by that person.”

“When I receive three e-mails, get three retweets or see three friends use someone's words in a Facebook status update, they're an influencer.”

“An influencer is a journalist with a top Newsknife ranking, a blogger with high Technorati authority, or a Facebook or Twitter users with Klout influence. Different tools tell us different things, but we want to reach people who create messages that generate actions.”

“Anyone or any organization such as an industry analyst, system integrator, VAR or business partner that can help you tell your organization's story to your audiences—often called implied third-party endorsement, and more valuable than any advertising.”

“For us, an influencer is someone who can passionately describe what we do with the result of compelling a funding source to invest in us.”

“An influencer radiates new ideas, explains emerging realities and persuades many into believing and measurably actioning beliefs. He/she is an opinion leader who becomes a branded symbol in the digital ecosphere through relentless multi-channel effort. An integral interlocutor of social engagement, the influencer has as a personal launch pad.”

“Someone who has the ear of someone who can make my life miserable or pleasant.”

While many of these definitions from readers are similar, they do tend to vary depending on if the PR pro is in corporate, nonprofit or agency spaces—and by what industry they practice in. Here is a sampling of some runners-up:

“An influencer is someone that has an impact on sales—they are writing about our market/industry, providing guidance to end-users on what solutions would be the best for their business and assisting them with vendor selection, which means they have direct impact on our ability to get in deals and drive revenue.”

“I define an influencer in my market as 'someone who has an effect on my customers' and prospects' choice of a solution. So I ask my customers and prospects who influences them and how that works: how, what stage, what content, what topics, etc. This works.”

“Someone who is highly esteemed by his/her peers for their informed opinions and can provide influential commentary on products or services my firm is interested in explaining/promoting on behalf of a client. In other words, someone who can credibly complete the two-step flow of communication from me to them to the target audience/public.”