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Defining and Measuring Social Media Influence


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Influence is more than a social media buzzword; it’s a powerful means of getting your community to speak up on your behalf, and learning how to identify and measure influence is the key to making the most of the phenomenon.

Published in: Technology, Business

Defining and Measuring Social Media Influence

  1. 1. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 / 1 888 6radian Written by CHUCK HEMANN, LAUREN VARG and TERESA BASICH AS Copyright © 2011 - Radian6
  2. 2. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE or the influence we have in our day-to-day offline lives. CHAPTER 1: Brian Solis, principal of FutureWorks, a DEFINING SOCIAL digital and social media communications agency based in the Silicon Valley, has defined MEDIA INFLUENCE In the business sector of social influence as: media, agencies, vendors, and successful enterprises rail en …The ability to cause desirable and masse about the benefits of measurable actions and outcomes. That definition feels almost a bit calculating, building relationships with brand doesn’t it? But when you really think about it, this is a fantastic definition of what influence “influencers” to gain a strong encompasses. Whether the outcomes we foothold on the social web. “Your want are inherently good or bad makes no influencers are your best brand difference – we want them, and to influence is to encourage the actions that drive our desired representatives, “ we say. “Those outcomes. people have the highest ability to impact the purchasing behavior of What is online influence? your greater brand community, “ On web-based social networks, influence is no different than the definition stated above, we preach. And that’s all true. although there are nuances of online influence that organizations should consider as they But what, exactly, do we mean when we talk strive to identify their “influencers” and create about social media influence? How can you, their own influence strategies. as a company, find the right group of people – large or small – to make that desired impact • Influence moves much quicker through the on your business? In this paper we’ll strive social web than it does in the offline world. to clearly define influence as it pertains to Why? Because of the immediate and vast the social web, identify why social influence exposure people and businesses can garner matters to businesses, and identify some on the Internet. strong metrics and approaches for selecting • Stances and influencer status can change and interacting with a group of brand quickly because of a single person’s influencers that make sense for your company. experience and accompanying online commentary. Influence is truly fluid; much like trust, for businesses at least, influence takes work to develop and can be easily lost. What is Influence? At the simplest level, influence is the ability to impact a person or thing in ways that inspire action. Influence is very much about cause and • The outcomes of online influence can be effect, and that truth applies across the board, easier to identify than offline influence whether we’re talking about online influence because we can easily access a larger pool of reactions than we’d be able to 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  3. 3. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE The essence of influence is the same no matter Another example? Graco’s efforts to where it’s employed or experienced. The reactions to that influence, though, and the connect and become involved with the gap between the cause and effect of an act of In an effort to develop a strong relationship influential online parenting community. influence are the things that seem to be most with this community, Graco organized Graco subject to nuance. Get-Together events in which they met key influential bloggers to learn about the community itself and slowly integrate their brand into the mix. They then launched Can online influence drive business? The reason all this clarification is so important the GracoBaby blog to enable two-way is that influence, when clearly understood and communication between the organization and well applied, can be a great boon to businesses. community. Empowering your loyal customers and fans to share the experiences they’ve had with Although the Graco case study is a bit old, your brand(s) and products with their social the fundamental pieces of it are still highly networks is the foundation of word-of-mouth relevant to today’s influencer relations efforts. marketing. It also builds trust around your And we’ll talk about those fundamental pieces brand and bolsters your company reputation. next. Influence is a two-way street, of course. There are companies out there also taking the stance So, what, exactly, makes up influence, and of “influencee,” letting their customers and how can we use it? fans impact the direction of their products and Influence as a noun is made up of a few services. different aspects, and openly demonstrating these aspects on- and/or offline is key to making strong connections with the people you want to influence and, ultimately, impact. For example… TurboTax’s Inner Circle community. The Inner Circle is a large community of TurboTax • Trust – Trust is the foundation of influence. users who have been selected as product beta The only way people connect with each testers. These folks provide feedback on the other is by trusting that they’ve been product, rate and comment on new proposed accepted and will be treated fairly. Of course, features, and ultimately contribute to the acceptance and fairness are relative, but annual improvement of the TurboTax software we’re trying to break this into simple terms suite. At the end of each year, TurboTax that we can all understand and use. Identify incorporates 35 community-suggested how your community establishes trust and features into its product to offer a consistently acceptance and work from there. improved piece of software. • Authority – If you know what you’re saying Intuit, parent company of TurboTax, and doing, people will listen and take heed. recognized the potential behind incorporating This isn’t about all expounding expertise, attentive, engaged customers into the fold per se – although that’s a big part of it – it’s of their business model, and has done so also about having and demonstrating strong successfully with its Inner Circle community. beliefs that resonate within people and steer them in directions they want to 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  4. 4. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE • Value – Again, value is relative here, but Here’s the short of it: it’s an essential piece of influence. To have any impact on a person you need to provide Popularity: Being widely known. some sort of value to them. By providing value you create a positive benefit for Influence: Being able to inspire action with or people. That’s it, really. without a large following. • Connection – People are willing to act on Yes, these definitions are a bit oversimplified, behalf of others if they feel the benefit of but they’re quick and useful takes on doing so outweighs the cost. While trust, popularity and influence. One is inherently authority, and value are all important pieces about inspiring action, while the other is not. of influence, a mutual connectivity or bond For the sake of education and eye opening, between the influencer and influencee is the though, let’s get a little grittier with the glue that binds. differences. To influence anyone, you must build trust, People who are popular are known by name establish authority, deliver value, and form a and possibly reputation, but not necessarily mutual connection with them. Those who have by their connections with individuals. In the become influential within specific networks online world, these people’s networks are have fostered all these things with all those comprised largely of weak ties rather than networks, and all of it is tailored to each close relationships. Those who perceive network. this popularity think the popular folk are entertaining, the life of the party, and their Note that, as a business, you will have to attention is often caught by what these people develop these things with your selected list of say and do. influencers to get them on your side. You must work to connect with them on these levels to When it comes to moving others to act on their gain their cooperation. And before you do any behalf for a specific cause or purpose, though, of that, you must identify who the right people the power of the popular folk diminishes. are for your business to connect with, what These popular people, while amusing, haven’t principles and beliefs resonate with them, and built a mutual trust, proved their authority in how they define value. For the purposes of any subject, or provided substantial value to this paper, we’ll be focusing on that first major their network. Most importantly, they haven’t piece – identifying your influencers. But before developed a mutual bond with those who we do that, let’s address this tricky thing called make up their social graph. popularity. Capturing the attention of your network isn’t the same as moving them to do something. Influential folks, however, can inspire action. What about popularity? Does it matter? Originally, we were going to dedicate an entire We should note here that influence is powerful chapter to the difference between influence and popularity, but, after doing some research According to an HP Labs study on influence and and some thinking, we realized the discussion no matter the size of someone’s network. passivity in social media, the size of a person’s around this particular facet of the topic of influence doesn’t need to be nearly as long. ability to cause an effect. So it makes no social graph is weakly linked to this person’ 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  5. 5. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE difference if a person has 100 friends or 1,000 traffic to your website, the role these metrics friends linked to them via social networks; play in defining your business’ performance is if they have done those things that connect under some question. people to them in meaningful, moving ways, they will influence the behavior of their Within this argument, there’s a camp of network. people who believe true ROI is really the only performance metric companies care about. Both popularity and influence are useful tools In a widely viewed presentation, brand and for business, but to make the most of them, you marketing management consultant Olivier must be clear on what each tool impacts and Blanchard outlined several truths about what general sorts of results each will deliver. social media ROI, his primary argument being that these softer metrics are not ROI and that ROI is purely a financial calculation. Popularity begets awareness, but influence begets action. Now that we’ve shared the theoretical side Blanchard is not wrong, but neither is the of influence, let’s get into the fast and hard camp of people utilizing softer metrics to conversation of measuring influence. What measure impact. Recently, Amber Naslund, are the metrics best suited for identifying VP of Social Strategy at Radian6, outlined the influence? Is there a hard metric that “13 Truths About Social Media,” arguing that applies across the board in every influencer there is more to social media measurement identification program? Is influence even and success than ROI. measurable in numeric form? Well, we’re getting to that. Whether you are using hard metrics, like a pure ROI calculation, or are willing to subscribe to softer metrics for measuring success, the reality is that we’re far from solving this riddle. In fact, some of the issues that have plagued traditional media CHAPTER 2: THE BATTLE measurement are now starting to show their faces in social media marketing. However, BETWEEN SOFT that’s the subject of another eBook. AND HARD METRICS We believe the answer to the soft and hard metrics question lands somewhere in the The debate about whether or middle of these two extremes. We’re guessing not we should be using hard or that your mother probably taught you the soft metrics is one of the hottest principle of “everything in moderation,” right? Well, much of that holds true for social media within social media marketing marketing. The best approaches are looking circles. You’ve likely seen plenty of at ways to truly capture ROI while using softer metrics to outline behavioral changes. skepticism around the role of soft metrics in measuring the impact of social media. Whether Unsurprisingly, there are also questions we’re talking about the change in share of about using one or the other type of metric voice/conversation, a rise in the number of exclusively to define influence. Do quantitative searches about your brand, or an increase 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  6. 6. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE metrics even matter? Do qualitative metrics This is an important thing for brands to keep introduce unnecessary bias? Does the in mind: One metric or even one group of introduction of qualitative metrics make metrics cannot tell you the entire influence influencer analysis inherently NOT scientific? story. Numbers themselves cannot be viewed Is a scientific analysis of influencers within a in isolation. The example we gave above is a topical area important for brands? What’s the perfect case study. It isn’t enough to look at a ideal balance between automation and human blog’s inbound links and consider that blogger intervention? influential. In addition to inbound links, we should be thinking about total visitors, unique Let’s take a second to try and answer these visitors, inbound links, number of comments questions. per post, number of retweets per post, and that’s just naming a few metrics. You can quickly fall down the metrics rabbit hole if care is not paid to what metrics matter most to Using strictly quantitative metrics to you and your brand. This is where qualitative define influence How much of a person’s online influence factors must come into play. can we determine based entirely by their numbers? Does a person who has 10,000 followers have greater influence than someone who has 5,000? What about a person who The role of automation How much or little an influencer identification writes a blog and has 20,000 inbound links program should be automated is another hotly versus someone else who has 10,000? What debated question. There are a number of tools if we built an algorithm that looks at these that help you automate the process including strictly quantitative factors for a person’s Klout, Tweet Level, Twitter Grader and online presence? Would anyone buy the final Technorati. These applications give you the output? numbers you need, and then you can input them into a document to track which people In all honesty, numbers have been critical you deem influential. since long before we were even talking about Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and the The “scores” these sites present are well rest of the online universe. Establishing how reasoned in their own right, but they present many people you could potentially reach with brands with three specific challenges: a certain action (more on reach coming up) is something the traditional public relations/ • The scores aren’t truly “online” influence communications world has struggled with measures – Most of these online solutions from the beginning. However, just because are providing a score based on one or only you have 10,000 followers on Twitter and I a couple of online channels. A person’s only have 5,000 doesn’t mean you are more online influence is much more than his or influential than I am. In a broader context her influence on Twitter. What if I have a than just Twitter, just because you have the YouTube channel, as well? Or a blog? Or opportunity to reach more people online what if I actively participate within an doesn’t make you more influential. Its how open LinkedIn community? Shouldn’t I get those numbers come together that explains credit for my entire online presence? The how influential a person could or couldn’t be answer is clearly yes, but, until one of these to a brand. tools develops a score that incorporates 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  7. 7. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE person’s entire online presence, the scores technology right up until the point when you must be considered only for the channel in are trying to nail down your final influencer which they are measuring. list. Until an online tool incorporates the above, use those sites as more of an “FYI” than • Relevance – More on this in a second, but anything else and develop your own list of these online tools are not determining metrics. whether or not a persons’ Twitter presence is relevant for a particular brand. Take social media marketing expert Chris Brogan’s The role of qualitative analysis Klout score for example. He has a score This discussion could very easily be called “The of 84 on Klout. If you spend only a little role of the analyst in influencer identification.” time there you’d realize that’s a very high Where does a human come into play when you score. Yes, Chris is probably influential on are defining who is influential for your brand? Twitter, but ask yourself this very important The answer, quite simply, is everywhere. It’s question – has Chris written anything about why a successfully developed approach to your brand or about a related topic area that influencer identification that combines human you care about? If the answer is no, then intervention with quantitative metrics will should he be included on your influencer always win over something that appears to be list? totally automated or strictly quantitative. • No insight into the “black box” – There So where does the analyst, or brand manager, are many influencer “algorithms” out there. or anyone trying to develop an influencer Putting aside whether they are good or bad list come into play? There are three very for a second, we tend to have very little important roles of the analyst: insight into what goes into the final output. Now, nobody is asking these companies or • Normalizing the data – We mentioned firms to disclose the “secret sauce,” but we above that there is not one single metric, should be able to piece together how you regardless of channel, that can be used to came up with the score you did. If we can’t, define influence. We cannot look at just the number has to be taken with a grain of total visits and consider a blog influential. salt. Similarly with Twitter followers. After a person or team gathers the appropriate Whether or not you can use one of these tools metrics, a process of normalizing the data to determine influencers for your brand is a must occur, otherwise comparing inbound separate discussion than the one detailing links to, say, number of comments on a blog if the process of pulling metrics for your post would not make sense. The scales are influencer identification program should be wildly different. Similarly, for your brand, automated or not. The answer to that question it might make more sense to place more is clearly yes, and as much as you can automate weight on total visits than inbound links. you should. The best influencer algorithms That’s a call only a human can make. combine lots of metrics across lots of different platforms, and pulling those all by hand is • Determining relevance – We’ll be spending labor intensive. It’s been done, but that process more time talking about relevance in the is inefficient and it leaves a lot of opportunity influencer equation later on, but this is for human error. We recommend using likely the most critical part of 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  8. 8. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE identification. Technorati publishes a list of overly simplistic, getting started with social the Top 100 blogs based on the Technorati media is hard. Authority score. The search conducted to find that site took literally one minute to Anyone who tells you it’s easy to create a blog, complete. You could do that also, but take Twitter, or YouTube presence is misleading a look at the list of sites. If you are a brand you. Creating the site or account is easy, yes, manager working for a midsize business- but drawing in and engaging with the right to-business brand in Topeka, Kansas, or people is very hard. Heck listening to, let alone someone representing said brand, does engaging in, the right conversations is hard Gizmodo really matter to you? Probably not. enough. A strong influencer identification Now, if you were a large technology brand program helps partially solve the “boil then Gizmodo would matter a great deal. the ocean” conundrum of social media We haven’t yet encountered a computer engagement. smart enough to determine brand relevancy completely. A human must be involved to Compete estimates that there were evaluate a site’s influence. approximately 175 million people who visited in November. Taking a number • Segmenting your influencer list – Here is like 175 million and turning it into 50 easily what most consultants won’t tell you – not allows a brand to get its head around who everyone on your influencer list would be could be a potential outreach target and who’d categorized as an “outreach” target. You make it onto the “Listen to These Folks” list. could work in an industry that’s heavily dominated by forum conversations. Anyone So, let’s get back to the question at hand: who’s tried to reach forum participants Do brands want something that’s totally before can tell you that it is very difficult automated? Our answer to this question would to even enter the forum as a brand. have to be no. Brands are comforted by the However, just because you can’t engage role of a human in the analysis. They generally with them, doesn’t mean you can’t listen to trust that a person understands the brand and conversations. Use a tool like Radian6 to the brand’s goals more so than a computer monitor conversations in that forum. You’d ever could. Not only that, but an influencer be surprised at the market intelligence list only becomes useful when it’s relevant you’ll acquire by just listening. No amount and properly segmented to meet brand goals. of automation is going to segment the list These are two things that a computer cannot for you. readily achieve. Will we reach a stage where the Klouts of the world are more a trusted resource for brands? Absolutely, but we aren’t there yet. Do brands want totally automated influencer identification? Do brands want targeted influencer lists? The answer is absolutely yes! Do they want Bringing qualitative and quantitative something that’s purely automated? Our metrics together experience to date has been absolutely You’ve no doubt already figured out that not. This gets to the root of the influencer our approach to influencer identification identification question – why do brands try incorporates both quantitative and qualitative and do it in the first place? At the risk of being analysis. We want to develop our list 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  9. 9. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE metrics, outline our goals for the list, create to help you explain someone’s total online the list, segment by relevance, and then footprint. segment by potential use (e.g., listening only, engagement, outreach, etc.). We want to The approach to mapping and defining online automate everything we can automate then influence must take into account metrics use a human to ferret out the final list. that can be bucketed under the following categories: reach, relevance, and syndication. If your methodology is sound and the person It’s important to note here that we aren’t conducting the analysis for you has enough just talking about the reach, relevance, and brand knowledge, then the final list will be syndication of the outlet. Rather, our focus is a true representation of who is influential on those three buckets as applied to the outlet for your brand online. If not, the list created and the individual doing the talking. That’s could bear fruit, but will it create “buzz” in the ultimately what we care most about, right? markets that care most about your product? Well, maybe. But do you want to create a list Social media marketing is about engaging of influencers, reach out to them, and have with people, is it not? We’re not going to be little to show for it? In other words, what’s the engaging with The Huffington Post, or New York ROI of your influencer identification program? Times, or USA Today, right? We’re going to be Create the rigor, develop the list, use the list, engaging with bloggers or reporters at those and drive ROI. That’s what everybody should outlets, first and foremost. We’ll be talking at be striving to do. length in this section about the characteristics of each of these buckets and how you bring them together. CHAPTER 3: Reach It’s likely easiest to start here because this is where most of our focus tends to be. We THE INTERPLAY want to know how many eyeballs a channel could potentially reach. We tend to focus our BETWEEN BRAND RELEVANCE, REACH, attention on the New York Times because its online presence is very large – 65 million AND SYNDICATION total visits in November according to Compete. It’s a similar story with USA Today, or Of everything we’re talking about The Huffington Post, or Washington Post. They in this paper, we hope you take reach a lot of people. away the fact that influence in However, if we’re living by the theory that social media is comprised of more we’re focused on reaching an individual at one than just reach. Similarly, influence of these outlets, how does taking into account only that site’s Web traffic really help us? The is mapped out by using more than just one answer is, it doesn’t. It’s important to take that metric. Or even five metrics. Or even 10 into account, yes, but we also need to know metrics. Ideally, that map is constructed by how much traffic for that site can be attributed bringing together the best set of metrics to a single author. This is where everybody’ 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  10. 10. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE favorite subject, math, comes into play. viewed (or has the potential to be viewed) by Obviously there is more to the reach part of many people is even better. But, how widely the equation than total visits, so what are some dispersed that content is could be considered other metrics you could consider? the Holy Grail. Not to continue on too long with Chris Brogan but his blog is a good gauge for demonstrating On the outlet side: On the author side: this idea of syndication. His blog receives hundreds of thousands of views according to Total visits Total posts authored Compete, and his site has been linked more (or tweets, blog posts, than 400,000 times according to Yahoo! Site articles) Explorer. Those are amazing numbers, but Unique visits they’re only one part of the equation. Take Inbound links Inbound links to the a look at how often his content is shared on author’s posts Twitter. If you look at his recent posts, they’ve been retweeted a significant number of times. Inbound links Unique people reached Those hundreds of thousands of views just Organic keywords Total people reached grew exponentially simply by someone picking Now, it’s important to note two things when up his content and syndicating it. you’re evaluating which reach metrics you want to use: So, what other metrics can you use to define syndication? Again, this is similar to reach • The relative weight of each metric will in that we’re focused on outlet and author change for each brand. There’s a lot of syndication. science that can be applied to the online influencer process, but nothing can replace a human looking at the data and thinking about what matters most for the brand. On the outlet side: On the author side: How you weight each of these things will Google results for the Average number of change based on those goals. outlet name times a headline is retweeted/headline • How much weight you give to the author Google blog results for indexed, etc… metrics versus the outlet metrics will also the outlet name Largest number of change. There’s no secret sauce here. This is times a headline is another place where your analyst will come Google news results for retweeted/headline in handy. How much weight you give to the the outlet name indexed, etc… author versus the outlet is obviously critical Number of times the to the final output. As a general rule of author’s name thumb, remember that we’re most focused appears in Google on reaching individuals, not outlets. Number of times the author’s name appears in Google plus the outlet Syndication In the spirit of reaching as many people as Number of times the we can, syndication plays a critical role in author’s name appears the online influencer equation. Creating in Google plus the brand content is great, but creating it on a site that 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  11. 11. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list but a together. Skip relevancy and you’ll have come place where you can get started. We’re sure up with an interesting list that may or may not you can come up with your own syndication be actionable for your brand. metrics. You may realize that only a couple of these are relevant for your brand. Whichever method you choose, the same key points Bringing this all together we mentioned above for reach apply here: You don’t need to spend much time reading The relative weight of each metric and how this to understand that there are a significant much weight you put on the author’s score amount of data points here. With a large versus the outlet’s score will vary. That’s not number of data points comes a lot of data something we can provide you. Know, however, capture, and with a lot of data capture comes that everybody has their individual methods the need for additional resources to gather, for bringing these things together. crunch, and then develop the output. This is further evidence that a dedicated analyst or team of analysts is critical to completing an influencer identification program. So what are Relevance This is probably the most important factor some other things you need to keep in mind? in the online influence equation. As we discussed in the previous section, knowing • Date range for analysis – This should reach and syndication metrics are nice but if go without saying, but capturing the a person is not creating relevant content for appropriate amount of data across these the brand, how could he or she be considered data points (or others you might discover/ an influencer? Honestly, he or she just can’t create) is critical. You don’t want to grab be. Without relevance what you likely have is only the last month’s worth of content, the same kind of traditional media list you’ve because that introduces a few different been working from for years. We think we can issues including whether or not one event safely say that everyone would like to come up is unduly influencing the final output. The with something more targeted, right? As with ideal scenario has you capturing 12 months’ the other metrics we outlined, with relevance worth of data and extending your range we’re also focused on author and outlet from there. Whatever your date range may relevance. What are some metrics you could be, it is important to be consistent. Don’t use? grab six months worth of data for Twitter and then only 3 months for blogs. • This is just a snapshot in time – Even On the outlet side: On the author side: though you’ve captured a critical mass of data (ideally 12 months of it), the final Total mentions of a topic Total mentions of a topic output still is a snapshot in time. Whatever Percentage of posts that Percentage of posts that list you develop will need to be consistently mention a topic mention a topic refreshed. The online space changes in a Continuing on the broken record theme, it’s blink, and today’s number 10 influencer important to note that the relative weights of may be number 50 three months from now. these metrics and the outlet-versus-author Decide how often you want to refresh your side will vary by brand. Relevancy, however, list when you are coming up with your plan is the key component of how this all comes of action for the 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  12. 12. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE • Ranking only matters so much – To the relevance. Without one of these pieces of point of this data being a snapshot in time, the equation, you run the risk of creating an just because someone is a top influencer influencer list that’s not necessarily reflective now doesn’t mean they will be three months of your brand or the topic area at large. from now. Similarly, just because someone is number 10 today doesn’t mean they can’t become number one three months from now. Remember, after you’ve completed your list you’ll want to segment it by how CHAPTER 4: you’re going to “use” that person. Are INFLUENCE BY they “listening only?” Are they “direct engagement?” Are they “outreach in the CHANNEL VS. form of a release?” The more you reach out to a person, the greater the likelihood that INFLUENCE ACROSS their influencer “score” will change over a period of time. THE SOCIAL WEB • A person can show up in multiple Television isn’t the same as categories – It’s critical to take into account radio, which isn’t the same as the newspaper. So, why would you a person’s entire online footprint. Capturing a person’s blog is great, but what about their Twitter footprint? What if they are blogging think social media channels should in multiple places with relevant content? be treated any differently? Twitter is not the same as Facebook, which What if they are participating in a forum? You see the point here. A person can have scores across multiple channels, and that is not the same as YouTube. Each should impact their overall online influence social media channel has its own identity, in your list. community, content, and influencers. And there are countless social media channels • Relative weight of reach, syndication, and outside the big three (Twitter, Facebook and relevance will vary – In this eBook we talk YouTube). In fact, in this age, every person about how each metric could possibly be could be viewed as his or her own network. weighed. The reality, though, is that how Just like in traditional media, there will you weight each of the broader buckets always be some crossover of channels, but it’s will change by brand. If you’re running a dangerous to treat each community and set of campaign centered mostly on traditional influencers the same. media, then maybe reach is most important to you. Either way, you’ll need to determine that after you’ve gathered all of the relevant (there’s that word again) data. Building trust (and influence) with knowledge According to a 2010 report by Forrester analysts Augie Ray and Josh Bernoff, some Like we mentioned at the beginning of this 500 billion impressions about products and chapter, we want you to understand that services are created in social media each year. measuring and ranking influence online is This is a massive pool of conversations over done by a combining reach, syndication, and a multitude of social channels for people 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  13. 13. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE derive influence. According to Ray and Bernoff, these impressions are split into two types Content consumption and chatter varies of influence: (1) influence from people within by channel social networks, and (2) influence created by According to a study from online advertising posts across blogs, forums, and review sites. network, Chitka, users’ interests and From this data, Ray and Bernoff concluded that platform they’re using. The insights gleaned expectations vary sharply depending on the the online impressions people make on each from over 287,000 impressions depict nearly other regarding product and services are about half (47%) of the traffic Twitter generates one fourth of the online advertising impression, goes to news sites and that the only genre and that a small percentage of people generate appearing in all five sites studied was celebrity 80% of the impressions. We encourage you and entertainment. to download the Forrester report if you’re interested in learning more about the Forrester method of influencer analysis. All this research is to say that influence, no matter how you look at it, is built on credibility of knowledge. The Edelman Trust Barometer 2010 found “informed publics place the most trust in expert spokespeople and information sources.” This past year has been one of economic uncertainty, and, while we’re still influenced by average folks like us, this type of influence has lost ground. Influence runs much deeper than how many followers a person or company may have, and lives in the knowledge transferred and received. There’s no doubt we’re in the middle of a Social Media Revolution, but the data is changing rapidly as new channels appear, disappear, unite, and reshape, as is the way people are consuming media. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of social media statistics floating around. It’s important that you look beyond the masses of data to discover where your community is consuming content and engaging in conversations that are relevant to your organization’s goals and objectives. Be your own case study. Monitor and discover valuable insights from your primary data to start building relationships 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  14. 14. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE channels that will help you build and identify Share of Conversation is a combination of a trust through shared knowledge. few metrics that we happen to think give you some strong insight into how your online activities are directly impacting your goals and objectives. This metric helps you understand Share of Conversation When folks start to dive into social media they not just the volume of buzz about you, but how tend to put all their effort into those channels with the potential for a lot of eyeballs. The present and recognized you are among the problem with this tactic is that just gathering with. In other words, how much you’re in front conversations you want to be associated lots of eyeballs isn’t what actually matters, but of the right eyeballs. In the case of this metric, rather gathering the right eyeballs and then the hypothesis is that if you’re mentioned in driving them to perform a desired action. relevant conversations, you’ll gain mindshare and therefore increase the likelihood of When you talk in these terms be aware that someone choosing you over a competitor in you’re looking at potential reach, not actual the same market. reach, unless you can ensure that all of your friends or followers are logged in and viewing Radian6’s CEO, Marcel Lebrun, blogged in your content on a given day (which is nearly heavy detail the methodology for establishing impossible). There are some loose ideas about your Share of Conversation metric, but the peak usage times and percentages for varying high-level process looks like this: social networks, but getting actual reach numbers is going to be tough. • Set up a monitoring post for a topic, subject, or market within which you want to be For example, 50% of active users log on to talked about. For example, if you’re a non- Facebook on any given day, meaning only profit working in diabetes research, you half your fans are even likely to see your might want to look at conversations around status updates, and that among the rest of the “diabetes research,” “diabetes support,” posts they view. So, you might only be able to or any number of subjects you’d like to be account for a 20%-30% view rate from your known/found for. total following. • Within that topic, track and count the posts The web simply cannot be condensed to a that mention the topic(s) you’re interested single mass strategy, so it’s best to identify during a specific time period. 30 days is relevant conversations to ensure you are generally a good window. participating in those channels with the right (Metric 1: Total Conversation Posts per 30 eyeballs (you should be able to get started days.) with that process after reviewing the previous chapter). • Then, track the posts that mention that topic and mention you together during that Now, this topic might seem better suited for same timeframe. (Metric 2: Total Brand/ the measurement-focused sections of this Conversation Posts per 30 days.) eBook, but trust us that Share of Conversation and overall influence on the social web go • Divide Metric 1 by Metric 2. The resulting hand in hand. One directly represents the percentage is your Share of Conversation. other, actually, and we’ll show you 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  15. 15. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE Take a look at Marcel’s post for more information about why this measurement CHAPTER 4: really matters and has deeper value than just “how many people are talking about us”. HUMAN Figuring out where you should be engaging INTERVENTION starts with looking at where your audience currently exists. Your community will appear VS. TOTALLY in a few places to start, or perhaps many if your organization is inherently social. You’ll be AUTOMATED TOOLS able to identify exactly where that audience is The age-old debate of man versus machine is becoming more through your listening strategy. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t put effort prevalent as the science fiction of yesterday becomes today’s reality. Maybe the Artificial Intelligence or resources into interacting on big social happens to be. Software companies, for networks if that’s not where your audience we’re talking about now is example, are often mentioned on support forums or communities, thus showing a much larger portion of customer activity than, say, not what we expected, but it’s Facebook. Just because certain social channels are more popular than others – or even more definitely what we are working popular than other types of media – that with and towards. doesn’t mean your market is there. Do your research before you commit to engaging on a It’s unwise to think in extremes because particular network. there’s no clear winner, or in this case, magic button or algorithm. While social channels We know engagement can be a stick subject, have brought to light conversations that especially when it comes to scaling those brands just can’t afford to overlook, the efforts. How do you converse with hundreds expectations of sustainable listening and or even thousands of folks on a regular basis engagement have become a serious issue for and make sure the conversations you’re having organizations to tackle and solve. It’s essential are relevant and useful to your business? Can that organizations carefully think through any of that interaction be automated? And how their plans for automation when creating does this all play into interacting with your social media outreach strategies, especially influencers? That’s the next piece of the puzzle. when approaching influencer outreach. Interaction/automation as a mindset Influence is really quite personal, right? And we can all agree that influence is based in finding a connection that permeates the surface of general awareness and engagement. The intent to develop deeper relationships between organizations and communities is at the heart of today’s business 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  16. 16. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE Social media is now the conduit for valuable conversations that were once limited to private out which relationships to concentrate our group discussion or shared through siloed limited resources on. But our focus should feedback mechanisms. To establish what always be on people, not technology. This aspects of their social media interactions can has never been more evident than at times be automated, organizations must first craft an like these.” influencer identification program and define The processes and tools supporting our what is considered influential content within interaction should remain where they their marketplace. belong, in the background. In the case of the Haiti tragedy, the function of donation and The goal of automation is not to fully replace information gathering was not in the limelight, people with a computerized system, e.g., it was the global response that shined. The an unpaid employee, but allow people to human connection came first and remains the have more time engaging in relevant and foundation on which organizations need to meaningful conversations rather than sift build their automated efforts. through endless channels, mountains of data, and noise. Automated processes help remove those inefficient and redundant functions and Interaction/automation as a mechanism allow us to do what we do best: be human. There is no all-encompassing mechanism or Influence should be built and guarded with method to identify influence, influencers, or care, and it can only be created by humans, not easily map your organization’s interactions computer algorithms. with these people and communities. When you start exploring that need to automate parts of Take, for example, the earthquake in Haiti your organization’s social strategy, it’s best to in January 2010. Automation allowed first identify the most time-consuming, non- governments, non-profits, and ordinary interaction-oriented tasks and separate them citizens to band together and streamline their from those requiring real human interaction. activities, allowing one and all to focus on As we said earlier, automation is meant to giving back to their fellow human beings. Brent improve efficiency by assisting with repetitive Leary sums up how humans and machines functions, not replace all external interaction. worked together in this instance for the greater good: As the social media space evolves we’re all crafting the necessary rules of etiquette and adapting them to changing community expectations and knowledge. Unfortunately, “It’s important for us not to hide behind even though we are adapting, there are several technology, but use it to better understand tasks people and organizations are automating each other’s needs. It can be tempting that need to be personalized instead. to substitute technology for a personal connection. Being human can be tough, For instance, it’s best to avoid automating and time consuming, and gut-wrenching, tasks in channels where your community is and taxing, and many other things. And expecting direct and real human interaction or you risk taking away from other areas there are times and instances where we do of successful human-to-human reciprocity. need to utilize technology to make better But if you can effectively mechanize some of decisions, and to get things done quickly and less expensively. We even need it to 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  17. 17. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE those tasks you need completed, you’ll have you can do to build on those expectations. more time and bandwidth to engage on a more personal level in those spaces where • Manage Your Accounts: Not your interaction is expected. relationships. There is a time and a place for scheduling tweets and posts, like if you’re Rather than focus on what not to automate, releasing breaking news or you’ve identified let’s talk about the more productive uses for a need for an FAQ-type response. However, automation when engaging with influencers online social networks don’t thrive on and building your own influential content. one-off blasts of info but rather a two-way dialogue. Participating in these channels • Engage Actively: People won’t subscribe immediately sets up the expectation that to your content or “listen” to what you have you are listening and engaging. Establish to say if they believe the information or proper expectations with your community conversation is being generated from the if you plan on automating your social media faceless avatar of Artificial Intelligence. coverage. There’s an expectation for real-time engagement in the social sphere that just • Unify Your Communication Funnel: can’t be ignored or falsified, so meet that Integrate social media interactions into your expectation head-on and get actual people company’s existing communication and within your company talking with your feedback platforms. Spread the word and external community. keep track of those online conversations from A-Z in one platform. These platforms • Personalize Sharing: As we explored in already house a wealth of data from various the previous chapter, people consume and channels. Harness the power of that communicate differently across all social integrated data to discover insights and gain media channels. There are many tools out an holistic view of your influencers and the there that give you the ability to post your impact of your influence. content once and have it be distributed across multiple channels. While this kind of By nature, social media channels foster open automation might increase efficiency and and authentic engagement. Influence is productivity, it will come at the expense of subjective and built up through how others being able to more personally connect with view your interactions with those in the same your influencers, or even be considered circle. If you were to start automating your influential within a specific community and/ responses, you’d lose credibility and work or channel. directly against that widespread expectation of real engagement. Artificial Intelligence will • Know Your Brand: There’s enough “Enough never fully replicate a human reply or properly about me, now let’s talk about me” noise address a need for human engagement, and, no on social networks, and you don’t need to matter how well built, an algorithm just can’t add to that. See, feel, and live your brand deliver an authentic and appropriate response through the eyes of your community. Avoid to the various nuances of the human language. using automation to unleash a barrage of canned responses or self-promotion. Use these channels to discover what others find meaningful and influential and learn 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6
  18. 18. COMMUNITY EBOOK / JANUARY 2011 DEFINING AND MEASURING INFLUENCE What makes those people or brands so influential to you? What turns you off of a CHAPTER 6: THE WRAP-UP person or company? We realize there are a lot of • Give us a shout if any of this doesn’t make sense. No, really. Email us at community@ information and ideas in this and we’ll make sure to answer eBook to absorb, and we highly your questions as best as we can. recommend you give yourself Influence is relative to your company and the time and mental space to marketplace, but we hope what’s been outlined here will help you get a firmer grip on do so, because creating a truly how to approach using your ability to influence valuable influencer program that and that of your biggest fans to create positive includes the right metrics for your results for your company. Please be in touch and let us know what’s worked for you. We efforts and the right outreach always appreciate the feedback. tactics for your goals takes great understanding of what influence Find us on the web: is and how it works within your immediate community and Follow us on Twitter: greater market. Read the Blog: Here are some tips to help make this all a bit more digestible: • Make sure that you read this eBook at least once without clicking any of the links. Links offer invaluable reference points, but they will inevitably break your focus and train of thought, making understanding all this a bit tougher. • Consider mapping and weighting your own influencer metrics as you read through Chapters 2 and 3. Just as practice. This doesn’t have to be something you submit to your team for review, but it’s worth getting into the practice. • Think about how you, as an individual, influence and are influenced by the people and brands you’ve brought into your 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2010 - Radian6