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Measure What Matters: Online Tools For Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships by William T. Paarlberg, Katie Delahaye Paine

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Chapter 8. How to Measure Influencers and Thought Leadership

"Dominant coalitions tend to value and support communicators who first demonstrate their worth."

David Dozier

In the good old days, influencers were recognized leaders in business, media, Wall Street, or academia. Today, an influencer can be anyone who knows something about your product, your market, or your business. It can be someone with 10,000 followers on Twitter or 500 friends on Facebook. All that matters is whether they recommend your product or service.

New Influencers, New Thought Leaders, New Relationships

It used to be that a good communications program functioned like a food chain. You would educate key spokespeople and influencers on your message, and, assuming it was a credible message, it flowed down through the chain of media and ultimately reached your publics through a variety of credible sources. This top-down process of message control seemed reasonable, but was probably only a convenient illusion. Social media has proved it wrong and officially signed its death certificate.

Today, to mangle the metaphor a bit, the minnows are feeding on the sharks. Influence is no longer held by one large analyst firm or even a single credible individual, but rather resides in whatever community, Facebook page, or Twitter list that is talking about your marketplace. The proliferation of low- or no-cost tools to create communities has sparked a proliferation of highly specialized groups of people that are interested in ...

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