Most of these influencer programs get some things right and other aspects laughably wrong. Rather than pick on any one, let’s set up a straw man to point out the biggest sins of corporate influencer programs, as we see it.
We really enjoy Marco Arment’s blog and the links he posts and comments on. And we recently read his post, “We’re Just Flipping Through Index Cards”, with a reference to a podcast interview John Roderick by Myke Hurley that got us thinking. John is talking about the music industry, and Marco is talking about the app store. But a lot of it rings true for enterprise IT, too.
It’s tempting for companies to smack the little guys around. After all, it’s easier to bump off some new startup by spreading FUD than it is to challenge the top dog in your industry! But easy pickings should be avoided, especially when it comes to online communication and social media: It’s far easier for a company to lose mindshare by calling attention to the little guys than it is to gain anything from even the most justifiable argument. That’s why I advise my clients always to punch above their weight.
It’s not easy to be a public face for your employer, and doubly so when you’re using social media. Blogs, tweets, and the like value personal authenticity (and shun “corporateness”), forcing vendor bloggers to walk a tightrope. It can be hard to accept this burden, and many a bright young blogger flames out as the reality of the situation settles upon them. Yet some emerge from the trials with a reasonable philosophy and are able to continue.
Conventional PR mechanisms face many challenges in this new Internet-enabled world, but one of the thorniest for product vendors is the question of controlling information prior to announcements. Although there are many benefits to briefing writers and thought leaders ahead of time, there is a difference of opinion on how to handle this. And not all writers are the same, with reporters being focused on scoops and independent bloggers often more interested in considering their take on the news. Then there is the issue of embargo-breaking, and how to handle leaks. What should one do?