Most AR functions recognize that the realm of individuals that influence their buyers has expanded beyond traditional analysts and journalists. We’ve identified four classes of influencers that organizations need to engage with, both inside and outside the company, throughout the buying cycle.

  • Traditional influencers. Despite the weight that buyers place on newer influencers in the social media realm, this doesn’t mean they are ignoring traditional influencers such as analysts, journalists and associations, particularly for more expensive purchases. In many cases, a traditional analyst firm still holds more weight for a customer’s purchasing decisions than individual social media participants or even individual traditional analysts.
  • Social media pundits. From influential bloggers to Twitter personalities, companies are relying more and more on social media for purchasing advice throughout the buying cycle. It’s not enough to look at quantitative measures to rank influencers; the amount of Twitter followers or blog subscribers should only be one of the considerations when deciding to engage with new influencers. 
  • Customers. Customers are often a class of influencers that organizations don’t leverage effectively throughout the buying process, despite the fact that they rely on them heavily in later stages from a reference perspective. Particularly for prospects in later stages of the pipeline, existing customers can have a significant effect on shaping the opinions of prospects especially when they are peers of your buyers.
  • Employees. Employees can play a role in the way that influencers form their opinions. Particularly from a support standpoint, employees who are engaged and forthright have the opportunity to promote positive interactions with a wide range of customers and influencers through social media. Organizations should promote employee use of social media to encourage their potential impact on other influencers.
  • Having a wider influencer universe can help get your message out and reaching a larger range of prospects, but remember that due to the nature of social media, the credibility and influence of individuals can change rapidly.