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Caution: Influencers At Work

Social media and the rise of easy access to dissemination channels for Influencers really is having a profound impact on most every aspect of our lives. Because of the nature of our industry, we tend to think of this phenomenon within the context of brands and marketing (such as this recent study on Twitter users), but there are a spate of recent examples of the impact of SM-based Influencers on our industry.  The latest example is the impact of SM on MR industry trade organizations.

We’ve previously reported on the burgeoning outcry on various LinkedIn groups for a new paradigm of  engagement and innovation from our professional associations, with open conversations about the possibility of a new trade body to help support the industry during this time of transformation.  Well, this week we discovered that we had been heard!

Yesterday, ESOMAR took the bull by the horns by posting a new discussion on their LinkedIn Group: We are listening. Erika H., the Strategic Corporate Communications Manager at  ESOMAR posted this in direct response to posts on other LinkedIn groups. In the thread she states that:

What ESOMAR really wants is to have dialogue with our members and MR professionals globally. Our increased contact with local MR communities has been extremely beneficial in helping us to gain better insight into what is relevant to those markets and how that plays into global MR interests. Social media is another means of helping us to do that – to listen and provide services that are relevant. I really hope to see some good suggestions and constructive advice coming from here or via or suggestions email. At the end of the day, we are the sum of our members….

I’m still not convinced LinkedIn is the best platform to have this dialogue, and I am aware of some fairly advanced efforts to create a new resource to provide a a more integrated system to hear the unified  voice of the industry. Be that as it may, this is still a very positive step by ESOMAR.

A second development is perhaps even more intriguing. MRWeb reported on the formation of ARIA, the new ‘Americas Research Industry Alliance’ that includes the national associations for research business in nine countries in North and South America.

Alejandro Garnica, Director General in AMAI, Mexico – who has been appointed to coordinate ARIA establishment and startup – says that the remit of the alliance is to build client and public confidence in research, and to maintain industry self-regulation through collaborative effort and mutual support.

Among the issues that ARIA will focus on are standards and guidelines, education, self-regulation, emerging technologies, business management and development, and relationships with clients and research participants.

In addition, ARIA plans to encourage research associations in other countries in Central and South America to join.

This is a fantastic opportunity for an emerging organization to utilize the tools available via social media to engage with their constituencies in new and creative ways, and I hope the nascent ARIA will leverage these resources to hear the voice of the MR industry and work hard to harness the experience, creativity, and passion of it’s members to help blaze a trail into the future.

By the way, the debate on ISO seems to have been the spark that set-off this long gestating fire, which is the proper functions of debate: to drive change. I know many have been turned off by that whole topic at this point (although I think some of the memes have been funny), but I’m sure we can all agree that if it has helped to wake up our professional associations, then it has been a worthwhile use of energy!

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