Tuesday, August 16, 2011

OK, I found a GOOD use of the IRM acronym

There are certain people who are good to read if you need a reality check. One is Loren Feldman. The other is Steven Hodson. Both are welcome antidotes to some things that pass for wisdom, especially in the world of technology.

Hodson, for example, has a low tolerance for people who speak of the social media world as if it consists of entirely new and revolutionary and magical things that never existed before.

Take Hodson's recent Shooting at Bubbles post that quoted from Appinions. The Appinions post, written on August 10, urges everyone to become familiar with the acronym IRM. And it does so in an oh-so-breathless sort of way.

[IRM] stands for influencer relationship management, and make no mistake, it’s a term that will grow in popularity. In fact, as we become a world more reliant on digital convergence and communication, IRM will be the word on the tip of every brand, agency and organization’s tongue.

This is such a revelation because people are not only buying into the value of influencers but the value of building mutually-beneficial relationships with them.

But this was the clincher.

It won’t be long until we see IRM experts and specialists pop up, just like we saw the advent of social media experts.

General rule of thumb - if you have to refer to yourself as a social media expert, you probably aren't one. And Hodson was particularly dismissive about the breathless tone.

Now I don't have a problem per se with IRM, but I prefer to refer to it as common sense. If you want an influencer to work for you instead of against you, do the right things and don't do anything stupid. (For example, if you want to influence Steven Hodson himself, don't ask him for his zip code. Since Hodson is Canadian, he doesn't have a zip code.)

And if you're going to share the concept of influencer relationship management, it helps to share something helpful.

I was looking for other people who used the term IRM to refer to influencer relationship management. It took a while, but I finally found something written by John Bell. He wrote it back in 2009. (Which suggests to me that Appinions is not necessarily on the cutting edge.) Here's part of what Bell wrote:

Social IRM is the discipline of managing relationships between influencers and brands. It's built on the principles of social media - respect, trust, and a true value exchange between brand and influencer. The goal of Social IRM is to activate genuine word of mouth online at a scale that can positively impact business.

OK, that paragraph in and of itself could just be a bunch of buzzwords strung together. But Bell goes on:

We identify influencers by looking at data that tells us how conversational they are, how many people link to them, what their affiliations are, the combined reach of their social platforms from their blog to their Facebook page and Twitter handle. Seven different criteria come together to plot them on a map of relevance and influence. We build a segmented database of these influencers. For Ford we identified over 2 hundred influencers in 6 new segments we had never spoke directly to before....

Now perhaps you aren't going to go through all that trouble and identify seven different criteria and six new segments and the like. But the principle is the same no matter what you do. You need to identify the influencers who impact your product. You need to learn about the influencers (are they Canadian? do they respond to Twitter DMs? do they even have any interest in your product?). Once you've done this, you may end up segmenting the influencers - maybe not to the detail that Bell does, but at a bare minimum you will weed out the influencers who will not respond to your message. Then you can intelligently work on influencing the influencers.

P.S. Here's Bell's follow-up.
blog comments powered by Disqus