Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                           1                        Social Media Influence: 360 Approa...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                    2                                     Table of ContentsAbstract   ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                               3                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                               4personal social networ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                 5       The online la...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                               6be hesitant. This supp...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                               7                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                8         As Stuart Ha...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                9have potentially been...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE                                                                                      ...
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Whitepaper: Social Media Influence - Applications, Metrics and Theory


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TL;DR Social Media influence is largely based upon a peer-presence, as people are the new medium. As a business, utilizing the knowledge that people develop certain control over your brand can be harnessed, as opposed to letting it overpower. Knowing and utilizing your metrics, a business can strategically develop touchpoints to facilitate in steering their audience.

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Whitepaper: Social Media Influence - Applications, Metrics and Theory

  1. 1. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 1 Social Media Influence: 360 Approach Wm Travis Stephens
  2. 2. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 2 Table of ContentsAbstract 3Introduction 3The Constructs of Social Media 4What is Social Media Influence? 7Strategies and Virality 10Metrics and ROI 15Social Media Influence Theory 24Conclusion: Applications and Strategies 28References 32
  3. 3. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 3 AbstractTL;DR Social Media influence is largely based upon a peer-presence, as people are the newmedium. As a business, utilizing the knowledge that people develop certain control over yourbrand can be harnessed, as opposed to letting it overpower. Knowing and utilizing your metrics,a business can strategically develop touchpoints to facilitate in steering their audience. Introduction Tiny advances in technology can alter the course of history, as was done in 1971 whenone computer sent another computer this message “QWERTYUIOP,” thus the first email. Whowould have imagined that minor interaction would be the first step to an online, social worldwhere connections don’t just inspire communication, but are a way of life? Who would haveguess that in 1994, GeoCities would pave the way for millions of people to create a profile andsend messages on hundreds of personal websites and blogs? Who would have guessed in 1997 AOLInstant Messenger would revolutionize the way businesses streamlined their work for manyyears to come? Social media has transgressed from a series of simple tools to a streamlined way of life.Now, people use the online social sphere to enhance their experiences, as well as find anddiscover new items of interest. Businesses often want an increase in brand resonance, as well asa cheap means to reach many people, so they turn to social media. Businesses often think theyshould probably be on Facebook, maybe have a Twitter account or a blog, but without anunderstanding as to how social media influence works, a firm digital strategy cannot be set.Influence must be understood so that not only can the business be more influential, but that theycan also isolate influencers to fulfill their marketing objectives. The purpose of this paper is to analyze social media influence from the angles of theory,metrics and strategy. This paper will give case studies exemplifying points to help develop anunderstanding of social media influence. The Constructs of Social Media In order to fully understand how the message travels within a group, as well asbetween groups, the social media sphere must be mapped out. Robert Scoble, who developed hiscareer in media development in Microsoft, PodTech and Rackspace, designed The Social MediaStarfish Model. In traditional media he separates integrated marketing between broadcast,print, direct mail, online media and social media. The social media conversions are split between
  4. 4. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 4personal social networks, white-label social networks, blogs, microblogs, photo-sharing, audio,video sharing, email, SMS text, collaborative tools, Wikis and events. Platforms, such as thepersonal social networking websites, are a single location where information is gathered,shared and discussed. Kaplan et al notes that Virtual Worlds should also be listed as a socialsphere, such as Second Life (2009). The platforms are at the top of the chain of the contentwebsites, as despite the content sites’ social engagement the platforms tend to be where the maindiscussion is. Current platforms include microblogging (Twitter) and Personal Social Networks(Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus). It is on these platforms that communities and groups developand cultivate. There are also white-label social networks, which are networks created bybrands to increase communication. For instance, during each season of NBC’s The Office, peoplego to a website ran by NBC where they are virtually “hired” and put in a branch with otherpeople to compete in weekly tasks, both alone as individuals and as a collective branch. There are other types of social media in which do not fit under Scoble’s Starfish Model,as of the last update. Check-in services, such as Yelp and Foursquare are highly essential tomany business strategies. Both of these services do not fit into a single category, as theyprovide check-ins, allow for users to read reviews and update users on where their “friends” areat. Reddit is another website that does not fit cleanly into Scoble’s Starfish Model. Reddit actsas a social bookmarking site, however it is more of a user-generated news aggregate. At thesame time, Subreddits (topical Reddit pages) act as communities of people with similar interestswhere they discuss and collaborate - giving Reddit many of the same characteristics as a socialplatform. Kietzmann et al. suggest a platform must establish identity, allow for the developmentof conversations, the ability to share messages, allow for individual presence as a member of acommunity, act as a grounds to build relationships, develop reputation and branding and havethe ability for groups to be created. This model is invariably different than Scoble’s,demonstrating an issue when studying evolving media. If a platform must give the ability to formgroups, then Google Plus, which was in beta at the time of this article’s release, would not beconsidered a platform. It is biased towards Facebook and LinkedIn, which give the ability todevelop each of these facets independently. When studying any changing media, especially onlinesocial media, the framework must be malleable to the environment, lest it be dismissed as a‘snapshot in time.’ The Google Plus team developed their product to tie in with their otherproducts - creating a packaged idea of social networking and collaboration as opposed to asingle all-in-one website. Google considers Google Plus their platform, while their otherproducts, such as calendar, groups and documents, exist on Google but not Google Plus.
  5. 5. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 5 The online landscape will continue to change, but the ways we receive and transmitinformation tend to only evolve with major Internet changes, such as the transition to Web 2.0with a focus on the Internet consisting of sharable content rather than static pages. One thingremains certain - social networking websites may come and go but the end-user, the people, willalways have the voice. What is Social Media Influence? In today’s online marketing environment, the concept of influence is more important thanever. It is becoming increasingly important for companies to raise their influence as a means ofmeasuring audience engagement. Unlike other methods of measurement, influence measures howbrands and individuals differ from other accounts, while other forms of measurement in the pasthave been based on an internal rating system. Influence has become so important that somemarketing firms use these scores to help them identify whom to hire, based upon their influencescores (Schaefer). Often, companies hope to look at programs testing online social influence in terms ofRate of Investment (ROI), though the popular tools such as Kred, PeerIndex, Radian6 and Kloutdo not make any claims to measure ROI. Instead, what these companies consider to be influencetest a platform of “social capital” (Solis). They are often criticized for not legitimatelytesting influence, however the concept of social influence does not have set constructs; nor arethere any academic batteries testing social influence to analyze scales. Through the development of these online tools, a standard has been set across theplatform. Each tests the reach, engagement metrics, topical relevance, resonance,intelligence/ trends, list development and delivery and overall score, while providing tools forinfluencer relationship management and campaign management (Constine). The studies of online social influence is a relatively new field; to date there are limitedstudies identifying differences in social networking influence. The studies of online influence todate use established social constructs of this one-one-one interpersonal communication, or asReed’s law, which will be discussed at length later, calls it ‘personal social circles.’ The firstimpression tends to be one of the most defining points of influence. It is at the first impression thereceiver begins to develop an opinion based off any prior knowledge of the sender, theinformation being sent and current standards. If a communicator’s presentation does not fit thesituation in which they are delivering the information, the perception of the receiver is likely to
  6. 6. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 6be hesitant. This supports the concept that influence must begin with trust based on a sense ofvarying factors. Take for instance, depending on where an academic article is distributed, theorigin (be it the author or an external one) symbolically carries a veil of influence over themedium and the message (being this paper and the content therein). Marshall McLuhan states“the medium is the message,” which is supported to an acute degree by the understanding how theinformation is presented greatly affects the information itself (1964). Merriam-Webster defines influence as “the power or capacity of causing an effect inindirect or intangible ways.” In the advertising field, this is simply considered sway, or theability to change the cognition or affect of an audience. Powerful effects aside, an individualor brand’s message cannot alone make an individual perform a behavior such as buying aproduct. The behavior is the end result, first the effects of the message would have to developwithin the receiver’s mind and then they would make the decision to perform the behavior. Thiscognitive focus is important because it empowers the user to discern between the important,relevant messages and those having no importance to the individual. Consumer Reports says theaverage person sees 247 commercials on a daily basis. If each of these commercials are amessage, the amount of message an individual would be exposed to each day would drasticallyincrease when social networking is taken into account. An individual is not going to proactivelyreach to each of these messages independently, but instead filter them out through howinfluential the message is to them. In the social networking environment, it is not only businesseswanting a piece of the voice, it is also the end-user, the people involved on the social networkingwebsites. Just as brands do, these people must also establish influence, or social capital in theonline case, to get their voices heard. There are many people and companies trying to study social media influence.Facebook created software called Memology to study how information flows, though no rawdata or methods are released for public consumption, other than a blog made once a yeardiscussing popular phrases. The study of memes is growing increasingly popular, as it looks athow a meme, or a concept, is created and spread. Unlike popular belief, a meme is not defined asa quirky picture with words on it, as has become popular on the internet. The word meme wascreated by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book the Selfish Gene as a concept of howevolutionary principals translate through decades of cultivation. The study of memes todaylook at these concepts through the flow of information across social circles to determinevirality, as well as methods of change.
  7. 7. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 7 Strategies and Virality To build influence online, the encoder must focus on trust and engagement (Evans, 2008).To build trust, one must present themselves as being credible, just as with personal socialcircles. This is a multi-faceted concept with the foundation in the group(s) the individual is amember of, quality and reliability of his/her content, his/her experience in their field, etc. Toestablish trust, the individual or company must establish their ‘brand’ or their online projectedimage. Branding is not a concept solely for businesses, but instead is the image meeting betweenhow an individual or group want people to be seen and how they actually do. If an individual isdiscussing marketing, then they will want to make themselves look as an expert in their field,relating their points to their own experience. The concept of trust relies on being able to givereliable information or opinions about a topic. Upon defining this ‘brand’ image, the user willthen be able to determine the type of people they are interested in to both give information to aswell as engage with. The concept of engagement highlights the ‘social’ part of social networking. Evanssuggests the audience’s unasked question is “what do I need to know” while the question should be“through what channel or media type should I provide the answer.” This implies the contentcreator knows the information they need to give their audience; the user needs to only figure outhow to deliver it appropriately to open up discussion. Engagement is about building conversationsand relationships, not just advertising your message one-way. The core of social media isinteraction, while traditional media tends to be interruptive. A television commercial has littleto no interactivity involved, but instead forces you to take a break from the message, or thereason you are watching TV; this is the same for other forms of traditional media. Evansfurthers this point by stating “If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people,they’d punch you in the face.” He is, of course, suggesting the social networking communities aresimilar to face-to-face interactions, made up of the same norms. In order to be engaging on the web, the individual or brand must expect feedback on allends (Li). The social web ends up in the hands of the people who will actually utilize it. If awhite-label social networking website, such as, has a review posted on it then thepeople who are thinking about buying a product will see the review. If someone posts a blogabout an up-and-coming band includes video, people who are interested in new music or peoplewho are thinking about buying tickets to see a band will read the blog. This reinforces thestatement that people are able to filter through vast amounts of messages to receive what isrelevant to them.
  8. 8. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 8 As Stuart Hall suggests, people will react to a message by accepting it, beingoppositional or critically thinking about it. The online social environment supports thisreception theory. At Facebook’s 2011 F8 Conference, a panel participant was quoted saying“in the social world, your editors are your audience.” In other words, your audience is both thereceiver to your message as well as your critic, bringing the concept of trust to a level wherethe audience will also look at what other people are saying about the messenger and themessage. This holds true especially for companies, as they are no longer in competition withtheir direct competitors for the share of voice, but also with their very own consumers. Thevirality of the social web must also be taken into consideration when establishing influence.When information gains viral spread, it cannot be stopped by anything other than time. Of course, viral spread can be beneficial to individuals and companies in building theirreputation, however it can also go the other way. In 2006 a blog called Wal-MartingAcross America started up , following a couple as they drove their RV across America torest at various Wal-Marts. Across the way they interviewed Wal-Mart employees who lovedtheir jobs and were more than happy to share stories with the travelling couple. People laterdiscovered this was a fake PR campaign meant to raise the image of Wal-Mart from theeffects of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices documentary in 2005, which tainted thepublic perception of the retail company. In the end, it was not the blog that went viral, butinstead the story of how Walmart tried to ‘fool’ America. In the end, the messenger cannot always contain the message transmitted on the socialweb. Between 1972 and 1993, pilot Gabrielle Adelman and photographer Kenneth Adelmanphotographed the full California coastline. Barbra Streisand was made aware of this whenall the photos were published online ( and she requested that theyremove the image of her house. By making this public request, she inspired virality of peoplelooking up and sharing images of her house. A blogger from Techdirt named the phenomena forwhen someone requests information to be removed and it becomes popular the “StreisandEffect.” In the end, not only is her house easily findable with a Google search, but her name isalso associated with a term for “futile attempts to remove content from the Net” (Li et al,2009). Because the people are a new medium among themselves, transparency has becomeincreasingly important in maintaining trust. Transparency leads to ownership, credibility,reliability and assists in managing negative press and negative virality. Walmart’s blog could
  9. 9. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 9have potentially been a success if they had began their campaign by admitting they werefunding this couple to travel across the United States. Not all cases of transparency necessarily are as clean cut, some of which on purpose.In 2003 Sega used transparency to their advantage when developing a campaign for thefootball video game Madden 2004. They released a beta version of the game to testers, inorder to create word-of-mouth buzz. After a couple weeks, Sega sent the testers cease anddesist letters, asking the gamers return the product. Very soon after this, Sega came out andannounced this was a hoax and that the letters were sent in jest. The campaign was designed tobe transparent, yet they were able to maintain their reputation and generate positive buzzabout their product. These factors have also been heavily beneficial in advancing social change across theglobe. In 2011 a Saudi Arabian woman posted a video of herself on Youtube driving. She wasjailed for ten days. The UK’s Daily Mail reports as a direct result, many other Saudi Arabianwomen began protesting by posting pictures and video of them driving on Facebook, Twitter andYoutube (2011). The protests are continuing, however women must still have written permissionfrom their male guardian to be legally allowed to drive. These women are empowered bybuilding online communities with similar interests. The social and political changes do not end there. “If you want to liberate a country,give them the internet” said Ghonim, an Egyptian Google Executive when discussing how thepower of social media was harnessed to unite Egyptians to liberate their country. Socialnetworking did not cause the Arab Revolution, but instead it acted as a catalyst. It puts thepower of the message into the hands of the people. The message(s) is what causes the change.Online, the message spreads beyond direct social circles, but to the masses who are interested inthe same type of message. Metrics and ROI One of the most asked questions regarding social media is how much is it worth? Thereare many concepts of how to calculate not only the worth of online efforts, but engagementas well. Rob May of Backupify, a website that backs up social media data, claims that a Yelpreview is worth $9.13, while a single tweet is only worth a tenth of a cent. Of course, this wasin a blog created in the hopes of selling his product so the validity might be skewed. If it is, thenhow can these be measured?
  10. 10. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 10 There are several metrics available to measure influence, as well as types ofinfluence. Google Pagerank ranks web pages on a scale of 1-10, with the amount of backlinkspointing to a page. In the scope of Web 2.0 where information is heavily integrated, thismeasurement is losing popularity. Fred Reicheld developed the Net Promoter Score to determineif people talking about a brand are classified as Promoters, Passives or Detractors. This testasks one question - how likely is it you would recommend the company to a friend or colleague.People answering between a 9-10 are Promoters, 7-8 Passives, 0-6 Detractors. The NetPromoter Score is derived by taking the percent of Promoters and subtracting the percent ofDetractors. This is largely a marketing measure, however in the case of determining the levelof an individual’s influence both on the social web and personal circles, this provides insight tothe types of influencers. Klout uses a different method to quantify influence, giving each account a score basedupon its true reach, amplification and network. Klout catalogues true reach as the number ofpeople the account influences; these are the people responding or sharing content.Amplification measures how much the account influences people, measuring the number of peoplethat share further. The network measures the influence of the people within your true reach. Ifan account influences people with a high influence themselves, this give the account a higherinfluence. Klout segments the users into 16 classes of influencers, ranging from celebrity topundit, broadcaster, socializer, conversationalist and dabbler. These classes are based off ofan analysis of the account’s sharing habits, as well as engagement habits. It takes intoaccount topics the account often posts as well as originality of the content. Forrester Research combines psychographics with online behavioristics to produce whatthey coined “technographics.” Their technographic profile scale separates people betweencreators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators and inactives. These classes can blend intoone-another, but give insight as to how individuals receive and cultivate the information (Li,2009). When it comes to the return on investment (ROI) of social media in a business, manycompanies develop a concern. Largely, numbers through both influence software (such as Kloutand Kred), and other measurement tools online act as facilitators to answer the question manybusiness leaders and investors are asking – “is the time I spend online to market my businessworth it in the end?” In a business, time lost can translate to money lost if not properlyallocated. Advertising and PR have both been scrutinized for having few methods of telling if acampaign provides sufficient ROI, though in the online market measurements are easier to obtainand analyze.
  11. 11. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 11 Generally, marketers analyze the cost that it takes to start marketing on the socialweb against a rise in sales (Blanchard). For instance, a company may decide to outsource theironline marketing efforts to a digital company to handle their blog, platforms, content andcustomer service efforts. They will analyze this with data from the past few years, determiningif there is an increase in sales or a demographic of sales. They will consider the decrease in theirown company having to make customer service efforts to determine if the money they arespending is worth the investment. This analysis method may work well with products taking lessconsideration, however when taking into account products with a perceived increase risk, otheritems have to be taken into consideration (Lamb). Often, companies do not take into account branding into their ROI, as well as touchpoints(Hoffman). Through social networking strategies, individuals are often secured to the brand viaonline connections. If a car salesman runs a drawing to give away a car via Facebook whereindividuals must click “Like” and share the link to the drawing, often the salesman will not seean immediate return. At first, this may be distressing to the salesman, however if he/she getsten thousand “Likes” then those are secured until individuals disconnect themselves from thatpage. In turn, these people will be seeing the saleman’s updates for an extended period of time.Imagine this car had cost fifteen thousand dollars, and running a local television commercialcampaign costs just as much. In a medium sized city, the salesman would have approximately thesame reach through the commercial as through the social networking, however the frequencywould be determined via the social campaigns. This model would work well for the salesman, asvehicles are products individuals only purchase when needed. When it comes to measuring ROI, Forbes suggests to juxtapose social media with existingparallels to establish a basis. Comparing it to traditional media models can give a foundation,however the marketer must understand the nature of social media to determine the differences(Senan). Largely, the online environment is driven by the consumer as opposed to the business, asopposed to traditional campaigns (Li). Senan continues to explain simply measuring ROI is not asimportant as having a focused campaign focused on knowing and engaging with the consumer. Asmentioned earlier, using this deployment model the marketer will be able to take a decrease inconsumer care activities into account, as well as an increase in consumer satisfaction. Unlikeprior media types, social networking ROI must be measured with engagement in mind. Because ofthis, the ROI cannot be simply measured in terms of net profit, but instead the consumer’sapproach to the brand and the effects the social marketing efforts have on the brand life cycle.Take for instance, a hypothetical company in Boulder, CO develops a breakfast pastry wherethe consumers can customize the filling, the type of dough and the type of icing. They begin witha local focus, only serving people in Boulder. They realize there is potential in their business, so
  12. 12. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 12after a couple years they begin to make their pastries mail-order. For a period of a few monthsthey have a website but put very little effort into social networking, mainly relying on word-of-mouth. When they decide to start a Facebook and blog, they don’t really notice much of adifference in how much money they are making. If that’s the case, then is it even worth theefforts? It is possible, as while they do not see an increase in monthly profit, it is likely thattheir online efforts plateau their company on the product life cycle so they can sell their goodsfor longer. Hubspot, one of the most popular softwares for online marketers, has a morequantitative approach to measuring ROI. One of the largest differences in their approach is theyadvise to measure social media networks both together and separately, on the account oneplatform may drive more website traffic, while another might generate more leads. Theirstrategy is revolved around lead conversions and monitoring sales cycles to determine thestrengths and weaknesses of how the marketer is using the platforms. Using analytic tools on amain website can give an idea of the background as to how the sales were generated. Forinstance, if there was a surge in sales from people clicking a link on Facebook, the marketerwill want to look at what was posted last to fine tune what inspired the consumers (Eridon). Measuring video is equally important. In March 2011, comScore determined the averageUS online user watches 14.8 hours of video a month, not including subscription services likeNetflix. As of the time of writing, the majority of video ads are interruptive as opposed tointeractive, thus their reach and frequency can be measured in much the same way as atelevision commercial. As opposed to static television commercials, they do have an advantagein that their ads are clickable. Measuring hits generated via these clicks can determineengagement, however unless a series of campaigns is longitudinal (or the advertising companyprovides data from other advertisers), it is difficult to determine if these clicks are more or lessthan the average number. This does not mean that ROI cannot be determined, as if the strategyis fine-tuned then the individual will be taken to a page where they will be prompted to eithermake a purchase or enter their contact information so they can be developed into a lead. Marketers can also view ROI as a two-way street to help structure their onlinestrategy (Hoffman). To assist in determining their own ROI, it is often beneficial to determine thereturn on investment on the consumer’s part. It is strategically important to analyze theamount of effort the consumer must go through to obtain their own perceived benefits. Doing thishelps avoid wasted time on the social campaign, thus in turn potentially increasing thecompany’s ROI. Take for instance, the hypothetical pastry company mentioned earlier. If theyupdate three times a day with only sales pitches, then they will create with Robert Scoble calls“noise,” or useless information that people will look past on their streams. If a company gets
  13. 13. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 13people in the habit of looking past this “noise,” then their will either disconnect themselves fromthe company on that platform, or they will look past all updates - even the relevant ones. There are a significant amount of social media metrics to use when strengthening notonly the ROI, but the campaign as a whole. Using these metrics, the marketer can determineareas of improvement, as well as deciding what works. Currently, advertising, PR andmarketing agencies largely do not bill their clients via metrics, but instead upon campaigns. Thefollowing chart from MIT Sloan’s Management Review breaks the social platforms down intometrics measuring brand awareness, brand engagement and word of mouth Social Media Brand Awareness Brand Engagement Word of Mouth Application Blogs * number of unique visitors * number of members * number of references to * number of return visits * number of RSS feed blog in other media * number of times subscribers (online/ offline) bookmarked * number of comments * number of reblogs * search rankings * amount of user- * number of times badge generated content displayed on other sites * average length of time * number of “likes” on site * number of responses to polls, contests, surveys Microblogs * number of tweets about * number of followers * number of retweets the brand * number of @replies * valence of tweets * number of followers Concreation (white * number of visits * number of creation * number of retweets attempts label content creation websites) Social Bookmarking * number of tags * number of followers * number of references to project in other media (online/ offline) Forums and Discussion * number of page views * number of relevant * Incoming links * number of visits topics/ threads * citations in other sites Boards * valence of posted * number of individual * tagging in social content replies bookmarking * number of sign-ups * offline references to the forum or its members * in private communities: number of pieces of content; chatter pointing to the community outside of its gates * number of “likes” Product Reviews * number of reviews posted * length of reviews * number of reviews posted * valence of reviews * relevance of reviews * valence of reviews * number and valence of * valence of other users’ * number and valence of other user’s responses to ratings of reviews other users’ responses to reviews * number of wish list adds reviews * number of wish list adds * overall number of * number of references to * number of times product reviewer rating scores reviews in other sites included in user’s lists entered * number of visits to * average reviewer rating review site page score * number of times product included in users’ list
  14. 14. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 14 Social Networks * number of members/ fans * number of comments *frequency of * number of installs of * number of active users appearances in timeline of applications * number of “likes” on friends * number of impressions friends’ feeds * number of posts on wall * number of bookmarks * number of user- * number of reposts/ * number of reviews/ generated items shares ratings and valence * usage metrics of * number of responses to applications/ widgets friend referral invites * impressions-to- interactions ratio * rate of activity (how often members personalize profiles, bios, etc Video and * number of views of * number of replies * number of embeddings video/ photo * number of page views * number of incoming links Photosharing * valence of video / photo * number of comments * number of references in ratings * number of subscribers mock-ups or derived work * number of times republished in other social media and offline * number of likes While this chart is quite thorough, there are countless other types of metrics availablethrough third parties. For instance, there are a multitude of websites and browser plugins tocheck for Twitter and Facebook unfollowers to let the user know the exact time when they wereunfollowed. This helps greatly when determining what turns people off to the point ofdisconnecting with a company’s account. Also, website and blog analytics programs such asGoogle Analytics and Statcounter are able to give the user geographic data, specifying wheretheir users are from, broken down by country, state or town. If used correctly, metrics canallow for narrow targeting and strategy refinement. Robert Scoble’s metrics model is more catered to conceptual factors of online influence.He breaks it down by the target knowledge and what information can be interpreted off of thesemetrics. Target Knowledge Underlying Metrics Interpreted Info Audience Aggregate Profile Data Who’s Reading Unique Visitors Unique Visitors, Page Views, visitor Web Analytics info, blog mentions, Influence Time on site, blog context, reviews, Memes and analytics over time click analysis, traffic patterns, sources of traffic Engagement Clicked on, length of say, Conversions conversation time on site, pass alongs, commented on, post ratio, blog mentions, reviews, bounce rate. Action Trends, subscribers, repeat visitors, Pass-alongs, conversions, reviews referrals Loyalty Bounce rates Pass-alongs, blog mentions, time on site
  15. 15. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 15 Social Media Influence Theory The landscape of social media can seem broad and complicated. Many platforms andcontent sites exist, some in competition with one another, some existing for different purposes. Thepeople engaging in social media take on many different roles, interact differently amongstthemselves, developing a full web of relationships that can exist between seconds and years. The theoretical study of social media is one of the newest, most recent studies available.Facebook did not open it’s doors until 2005, Twitter not until 2006. Prior to this, theory inonline social media was limited to basic media assumptions from a sociological perspective. Thiswas backed only by exposure to forums, Usenet groups and the development of e-mail as amedium. Ronald Rice developed the groundwork in 1999 with the concept of online artifacts,symbolic of current social conventions being projected in this new environment. Conventionsalready have a familiarity in society may transition over into the ‘new’ (as of 1999) frontier,however they should should not be studied on an older scale, as this is assumptive. In the case ofsocial media, interpersonal influence exists on the online and face-to-face levels, however thisdoes not imply it must be studied the same. A new form of community was in development at this time, separate from society’sphysical factors. James Slevin argued pre-existing norms do withstand in online communities,though without a governmental, hierarchical structure (2000). Online communities form arounda concept, notion or belief, thus they could be qualified as the most “real” idea of contemporarycommunity (Anderson, 1983). This is further supported by the fact individuals’ Facebookpersonnas reflect the real personalities rather than self-idealized personnas (Back et al,2009). Similar studies have not been conducted on Twitter, Bloggers or other forms of onlinecollaborators. This is important when studying social media influence because people oftenproject a group’s ideals, axioms and behaviors onto an individual’s own personal traits withinthat group. Functions and structures of online groups have drastically changed since the late 1990sand early 2000s, however these theoretical underpinnings remain. Rice suggested artefactualstandards may exist, but should not necessarily be developed into studies of new mediums. Duringthe earlier years of the internet’s public consumption, scholars made what Rice would call amistake when devising pre-existing “laws” on understanding the influential collective. These
  16. 16. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 16laws were made to determine network value in terms of metrics, however their foundation indefining the network, or the online community hold less criticisms from opponents. David Sarnoff, founder of the National Broadcasting Company, as well as leader ofRadio Corporation of America developed a law based upon his broadcast experience states thevalue of the network increases directly to the amount of listeners on said network. Inadvertising media buying, this dictates the reach of a broadcast network. He suggested anetwork is just as valuable as the amount of people recieving the message. Earlier days of theinternet, the web was viewed in this way, much like print media. The social landscape madepeople begin questioning the usage of this model on the web, as advertising transitioned into bothpay per exposure and pay per click models. Once people started using the web differently,sharing information and developing set behavioristics on usage (which will be addressed later),this model’s ability to accurately translate the power of a network became moot. This is bettersuited for one-on-one interpersonal influence, as the people recieve the message and often it doesnot grow exponentially, as other Metcalfe’s law is designed to do. Robert Metcalfe played a valuable role in the rise of the internet and moderncomputing. He is a Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate, a co-inventor ofEthernet and a co-founder of 3Com. He looked closely at networks with a social function interms of delivering a message, as the message leads to discussion between the sender andreceiver, as well as the receivers network. Metcalfe proposes with more than one conversationabout a message occurring simultaneously, the network value grows square to the number ofusers. This is criticized on the account it assumes the people who receive the original messagehave the same number of people in their network as the original sender. It does, however, keep inmind the people within networks will be talking to one-another about the original message. Like Sarnoff’s Law, Metcalfe’s Law is less relevant with the transition into Web 2.0where almost every message potentially has social intent. Metcalfe’s law worked well with theemail medium when devising a structure for forwarding messages and getting people to discuss it,however it is not equipped to consider other factors - such as sharing, redistribution of themessage, etc. Similar to Metcalfe, David Reed specializes in the area of computer networking. As aprofessor at MIT, his start came with his contributions in the development of TCP/IP, and now hefocuses on viral communications. His law, The Law of the Pack, states the value of a networkgrows within groups. An individual does not have one specific group of people receiving andengaging on every message, but instead a message can be directed at one or more groups within aperson’s network. Take for instance, Mr. Hypothetical Joe (HJ). HJ goes to church, he is aprofessor at the local community college and on weekends he likes to play poker. His poker team
  17. 17. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 17may have one or two professors at his community college in it, but the team is a different groupentirely. If he has a message to his poker friends, he might post it online but it may or may notalso be directed toward his students and church friends. On a macro scale, this goes for hismessage in the groups as well. If he posts a message for his church peers, they will be the onesthat would recycle the message within their group, potentially travelling to other individual’sextended groups and so on. The network interconnectivity creates a non-simplistic environmentextending beyond Metcalfe and Sarnoff’s Laws. Groups have the ability to filter the message,acting as gatekeepers for further networking. According to Reed, this complex system defines anindividual group’s community (Reed). This idea transgresses different channels of communication,from face-to-face to online curating and sharing (Kilkki, et al.). Conclusion: Applications and Strategies At first glance, social influence may seem daunting, but it is necessary to understand asa business putting it into praxis. Understanding the gatekeeper model when keeping Reed’s Lawinto mind can provide the inspiration for making that extra step, as if the efforts put in do notcorrelate with the desired effect then you can rest assured knowing the ability for it to do so isthere, but the strategy needs tightened. It is also important to understand how the informationtravels on what medium. For instance, it is more likely that people will have personally metmost of their Facebook friends in person at least once, while Twitter is designed for people to beconnected to others with similar interests. In turn, this means that Facebook is more of a socialgrounds for people who are known to the individuals (therefore more likely to have more of aninfluence on people they know), while Twitter is social grounds for people to share informationof similar interests. One of the key points of this paper is that giving the power to the users is highlyimportant. Both Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s book Groundswell and Jeff Jarvis’ book WhatWould Google Do? are huge advocates of transparency. Full transparency is key to buildingtrust and developing a company others will want to talk about. Further, being transparentallows for the individual or brand to develop themselves as perceived leaders in their field -which Jarvis believes is one of the key mechanisms that allowed Google to rise to the surface. From my studies, I have developed six steps to becoming more influential. This is, ofcourse, only steps to help make yourself more influential - it is not a strategy in itself.
  18. 18. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 18 1. Create Sharable ContentYour company’s posts should not be sales pitches. Target leverages their Facebook by creatingrelationships with their customers, providing content relevant to their brand, but withoutdirectly trying to make sales. When you create sharable content, you harness the power ofother influencers to reshare and reach more people. In turn, this can not only spread yourmessage out further, but also secures more people to your site. Your content should be easilysharable, so that when someone visits your website they can easily reshare a blog, a post or anitem. 2. Have a pattern for how often you shareBe it a Tweet, a Facebook post, blog or podcast, you should share with some regularity to keepyourself at the forefront of the audience’s mind. At the same time, don’t create “noise” byupdating too frequently, lest you will turn potential consumers off. 3. Target your audiencePart of the beauty of the online sphere is people share their own information. If you areretailer of specialty micro beer, you can use a platform’s search for, find and connect withindividuals whom may be interested in your brew in your area. 4. Engage your audienceSimply said, get them to talk. Further, get them to talk about your product/ service. Createdialog, as questions and be sure to answer their questions when they have them. Social media hasbecome a new form of customer support, so when people come looking for answers or haveproblems with your product or service, answer them! Doing this helps you look more transparentand helps establish them as a life-long customer. 5. Get people to like youOne of the most important aspects of establishing influence is being perceived as an expert inyour field. You want to be the person or brand people come to when they have questions or needa service provided. Pitching yourself this way can drastically help establish new business. 6. Dont be afraid to get in the conversationDon’t be afraid to talk to people who have a poor view of your company and are sharing it. Ifyou can utilize good customer service skills then you can harness it to your advantage, as Pete
  19. 19. Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE 19Blackshaw’s book states in Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customerstell 3,000.Also, don’t expect people to come to you, communication is a two way street. If you see a threadonline where people are discussing something in your field, by all means chip in! You will be ableto show your expertise and help establish yourself outside of your current circles. Don’t forgetthat you and everyone in your business is a brand ambassador. References(2009). In Consumer Reports. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from %3Ecnt_id=18759&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=18151 Anderson, B. (1983) Imagined communities; reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism. London: Verso. pp 13-14Antonakis, Avolio, Sivasubramaniam. (2003). Context and leadership: an examination of the nine-factor full-range leadership theory using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. The Leadership Quarterly 14:3. 261-295.Back, M. D., Stopfer, J. M., Vazire, S., Gaddis, S., Schmukle, S. C., Egloff, B., & Gosling, S. D. (2009). Facebook profiles reflect actual personality, not self-idealization. Association for Psychological Science, 21(3), 372-374. doi:10.1177/0956797609360756Bass, B. (1990). Handbook of leadership: theory, research and managerial applications (3rd ed.). New York: The Free Press. Retrieved April 15, 2012, from
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