Here’s an exercise that’s quite interesting. The following five influencers are all ranked in the top twenty most influential people, news sources and organisations among 3,365 IT managers in Europe and North America:
Chris Curran (PriceWaterhouseCoopers)
Wall Street Journal
(source: Apollo Target)
How would you rank these in descending order of influence?
Many of you will know four of these influencers but I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you are scratching your heads and asking “who is Chris Curran?”.
Well the answer is that Chris Curran, according to his LinkedIn profile, is Chief Technologist at PwC US Advisory. He runs a blog called CIO Dashboard and is followed on Twitter by 13.4 per cent of all IT Managers in this survey.
When you consider that the Wall Street Journal reaches 12 per cent of this sample then you begin to realise how influential he is to IT managers. In the above list he ranks first ahead of WSJ (12%), Forrester (11.5%), Walt Mossberg (11.3%) and Engadget (11.2%).
(source: Apollo Target)
These five, when combined, reach 34 per cent of the sample. However, when you remove Chris Curran from the group the total reach drops to 29 per cent which means that 37 per cent of the IT managers that he influences do not engage with any of the other four influencers. In contrast, if you remove Walt Mossberg from the group it drops just 2 per cent.
What we are now seeing throughout the technology industry are audiences moving away from the mainstream news feeds and, instead, turning to respected peers for information. The top fifty IT practitioners (people like Chris Curran, Eric Egnet, Christian McMahon and Paul Coby) today reach a combined total of 27 per cent of IT managers in Europe and North America. This percentage is up 4 per cent in six months. The top fifty technology news feeds (TechCrunch, CIO, Wired, etc.) reach 57 per cent of this sample and this percentage has fallen 2 per cent in the same period.
A few years ago, these industry experts were only able to reach an audience through the pages of the mainstream press. Now, thanks to the proliferation of social media they have a platform where they are able to impart knowledge and expertise to fellow IT managers. What they say resonates with this audience, which is why this growing band of influencers are able to reach over a quarter of IT managers in Europe and North America.
With their current rate of growing influence, it won’t be long before the top fifty IT practitioners will be more influential for IT managers than the top fifty technology news feeds. But if you’re not sure this will happen you should know that it has already happened in the developer community.
Developers are much more interested in fellow developers than anyone else and this extends to the language they specialise in. So Python developers will follow fellow Python users. The person who reaches nearly 38 per cent of all Python developers in the USA is Guido van Rossum, the inventor of the Python programming language. You have to go a long way down the the top Python developer influencers list to twentieth place before you come across the first news feed, TechCrunch. Alex Gaynor and Raymond Hettinger, both Python specialists, round out the top three influencers on Python developers.
If you or your company are dubious about the need for influencer marketing then you need to think again. In all our research of key target groups in the technology industry whether they are CIOs, security specialists, network specialists, developers or marketers; it is clear that these groups are increasingly turning to respected peers to get their information. It’s because these individuals have real world knowledge of the issues affecting their audience and as a result are more likely to relate to them than the previous pillars of wisdom – journalists, news feeds and technology analysts.