Home > Observations, social > The influencer’s five qualities – S.W.A.R.M

The influencer’s five qualities – S.W.A.R.M

In an effort to understand the new Influencers Marketing phenomenon, I decided to try and identify some of the influencer’s characteristics and skills. This information is based on my experience, observing several individuals whom are perceived as influencers by me and others in the online world.

I can envision few derived action items possibly taken following this information:

  • Building influencer’s self training curriculum
  • Learning to identify upcoming influencers
  • Learning how to influence the influencers

The influencer – SWARM

I came up with the SWARM acronym to help remembering them, because it reminds me the metaphor for describing the human behavior following an influencer call for action; like a swarm of bees reacting to environmental change.

Virtue Underline Skills Impact Tasks
S – Storyteller Know how to tell a good story. Hers and others. Vision, Inspiration Collect inspiring stories to share.
Focus on possibilities and not on constraints.
W – Well-rounded Technology, Marketing, Selling, and Communication savvy Respect Read outside of your domain. Work on turning week points to strength.
A – Ahead Patience, Analytic, Confidence, Distinctive Leadership Be curious. Make very little assumption. Ask questions and look for answers. Reverse engineer. Try to write, and explain how it works.
R – Resist Can see outside the common thinking.
Extract signals from a lot of noise.
Priorities Read a lot before making an opinion or taking side.
Read a lot to build solid baseline for comparing it with new information.
Read Seth Godin – reading his blog posts regularly is a good training for counter thinking.
M – Motivating Know how to break it all to manageable tasks so other can execute. Education Design a plan from one point to the next including tasks, milestones, and objectives.


How can we use this knowledge for Influencer Marketing – ideas:

  • Building influencer’s self training curriculum – thanks to the internet, social network, social media, and many additional empowering technologies and tools, more people now have the potential of gaining influence. The growing fragmentation of the long tail to micro niches introduces more domains where individual can become an influential force. Here’s lies the need to train on mastering influential skills.
  • Learning to identify upcoming influencers – for building new ways searching for people and their influence level within domains. You can see an initial approach by wefollow listing the most influential twitter users per category. Here is the list for technology. I can only guess that it is based on retweet counts. It should be easier to start building relationships with influencers early on than when they become too popular.
  • Learning how to influence the influencers – if an influencer is a great storyteller and also attentive to this method of communication, then maybe coming up with an interesting and inspiring story is the way to start building the relationship with her.
  • Your thoughts about influence?

    What do you see as the key virtue and skill for becoming an influencer? How do you plan to find rising influencers in a new niche? As a marketer, planning to leverage an influencer’s call for action in order to convey your message, how do you plan to approach her?

    Picture credit: umjanedoan

    1. November 20, 2009 at 6:43 pm

      I like how you divided out the characteristics–seems you did much of what you quantified. I’m curious how you see this as different from the spheres of influence that were first tapped, oh not quite 10 years ago, for technology launches. The first-adopter as marketer and influencer phenomenon.

      I look forward to reading your comments.
      Heidi Sue

      • May 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm

        Fell out of bed feeling down. This has brihegtned my day!

    2. November 24, 2009 at 11:37 pm

      Hi Heidi,

      Thank you for stopping by, your kind words, and sorry for my slow response.
      I was not aware of the influential phenomenon 10 years ago, but I will try to address your question.
      There are few significant capabilities that I believed did not exist then:
      – It is fairly easy, now days, to find and identify an influencer thanks to new real-time people search engine tools like wefollow, twellow and klout.
      Actually, most people have way more web presence nowadays.
      – We have more visibility into “local” influencers operations via social network and media tools like facebook, twitter, backtype, linkedin and many more
      – We have easier access to influential forces online via blog comments, social networks, and offline participating in tweetup, social media breakfasts and conferences.
      After reading several books lately about different aspects of online communities, connectivity, trust and influence (tribes, trust agent, six pixels of separation, the long tail, groundswell, and few more) I think that we will see new niche influencers on a daily basis and there is still a lot to be learned about monitoring rising influential forces and activities, engaging with influencers, and about the path for becoming one.


    1. May 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm
    2. August 24, 2010 at 7:41 pm
    3. October 29, 2010 at 11:56 am

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