Nowadays there’s hardly any campaign without using influencers. Their effect is unquestionable and their popularity is unassailable. The only area we don’t really talk about them is internal communications. But are we sure about this? Isn’t it possible, that we have been using influencers for years internally, but we are not aware of it? Don’t forget: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Let’s get back to basics: Who are influencers? To make it simple: they are people, who are somehow popular, interesting, and credible enough to have an effect on the opinion and decisions of a significant amount of people. They can influence the crowd regarding several different areas of life, including the products people buy, the music they listen to, the places they travel to, the jobs they dream about or even the way they think.
Do you have such people in your organisation? For sure! You can call them “Ambassadors”, “Change agents” or give them any other name, they will be nothing else, but internal influencers.
Why is it good if we are aware of our internal influencers?
I guess all internal comms professionals met the challenge, that employees usually prefer to gain information from the corridor and rarely read the intranet precisely. What can you do in this situation? You can try to send direct mail or text messages on each of the important topics. However, if you send more than one mail a day, you can be quite sure that – rather sooner than later – your e-mails will be put to spam or simply deleted unread. Your other option is to try to find those people who are in the center of information flow. And yes, they will be your internal influencers.
Of course, the situation is not that simple, as there are different levels, or let’s say circles of internal influencers. We need to differentiate the professional influencers from gossip guys and girls. Professional influencers are the ones employees turn to when they need information necessary for their work. They are most probably the colleagues with the broadest knowledge and greatest experience.
Unfortunately, once you have found them, you are still not at the right place to influence corridor gossip. In most cases, employees who are interested in hot topics about the performance of the company, the background of significant decisions, or personnel changes will turn to the informal or community influencers. They are the ones who know everybody, who always have an opinion on everything, and don’t think it twice to articulate it loudly. Even if they are not sure about the information.
What can you do with them?
You can use them as a communication channel: If you find the way to provide them with first-hand information, most probably they will feel privileged because of their role, and will be willing to spread the information you want.
How can you find them?
Company network research is the most professional way to identify internal influencers and see how much the formal and informal network of the company equals. Once you are aware of your networks, you can start to define what you can use your professional and your community influencers for.
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