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The Top Influencers In Market Research

Marketers who want to effectively and efficiently get their message out will target social media influencers to bring attention to and shape the conversations around their products, brands and solutions.

social network


Editor’s Note: Recently Ray Poynter conducted an experiment to understand the role and definition of influence in the Twitterverse among market research professionals. That was an exercise that generated a lot of interest from the research community, and now our friends at LRW have thrown their hat into the ring using their own proprietary influence model.

So what does this tell us?  It’s seems that there is no clear cut model of measuring influence today, but it’s important that as an industry we understand the various approaches and work to develop some standard “common core” on what denotes influence.

Here is LRW’s take on the matter. It’s good stuff!


By The LRW Team

We noticed some of the comments here on the blog to previous discussions about influence rating with great interest. Our response is: Yes, Frankie, Kristin Luck is Influential. And so are Betty Adamou, Katie Clark and Diane Hessan.

We start with a hat tip to Ray Poynter and Lenny Murphy for bringing the subject of influencers and social media analytics to surface via the August 19thblog post, “Who are the Top 25+ Market Research Influencers on Twitter?”  We wholeheartedly agree that to serve as good consultants, researchers must remain abreast of new data sources that can be used to help companies with their marketing challenges.

At LRW, we’ve partnered with some of the leading technologists in the fields of network and influence analysis, who began their work while active in the US intelligence community tracking terror networks.  Together we offer these thoughts on measuring social media influence, in the spirit of enriching the discussion started a few weeks back.




  1. Understanding the dynamics of social influence is critical for the modern marketer.

Modern marketers must understand and master the art of social influence if they hope to leverage word-of-mouth social networks to their advantage. Identifying and converting online influencers may sound simple, but it requires both analytical and marketing prowess. The reward for influencing the influencer is more effective and efficient brand and product messaging.

Imagine the marketing goals of an independent film studio launching a period piece set during the Civil War. Taking a segmented approach, the marketing team would target and engage key influencers across a set of special-interest networks on the web, such as Civil War aficionados, Lincoln enthusiasts, independent film devotees, and fans of the lead actors. With these influencers on board, the filmmakers could extend both the reach and credibility of their marketing efforts.

  1. When analyzing influence, think in terms of networks, not keywords or counts.  

Kristin Luck and other influencers made our list because they are deeply connected to and influence the conversation in the market research network, though they do not always hashtag their remarks.  Keywords and hashtags are a great place to start analyses, but shouldn’t define the network or limit the analysis. Letting the network go wide and then pruning back irrelevant connections provides the most accurate view of linkages and conversations representative of a given network.

In kind, don’t be fooled by counting techniques. High followers don’t necessarily mean high influence. There was only one courier between Bin Laden and the rest of al-Qaeda. Furthermore, if Justin Bieber tweeted under the #MRX hashtag about market research, few of his 54 million followers would care. Followers ≠ influence.

  1. Use tools that offer Google-esque understanding of influence networks.

As our technology partners frequently point out, Google changed the face of the search-engine business by employing a sophisticated algorithm that dealt with networks’ complex centrality issues. More relevant search results followed. The same principle holds true for influencer searches: the better the algorithm, the more relevant the results.

Marketers who want to effectively and efficiently get their message out will target social media influencers to bring attention to and shape the conversations around their products, brands and solutions. To do this successfully, they need sophisticated tools and thoughtful partners to help them sort through the noise around the subject…because gaining influence isn’t about luck.

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15 responses to “The Top Influencers In Market Research

  1. Influence here is grossly misrepresented.

    What about, for example, somebody like John Kearon who doesn’t use twitter much? Or Eric Salama? Or an organisation like ESOMAR?

    This is measuring a bunch of people talking to themselves.

    I would like to see a ‘proper’ measure of influence and also one which takes account how many people in MR actually use twitter.

    I would also like to see an objective measure on whether twitter is influential at all, regardless of industry type.

    1. All fair points Daniel. The idea here is NOT to say this is a definitive model, but rather to look at the various approaches in use today and what are their strengths and limitations. It is convenient to use Twitter as an example, and even more so to look at our own industry, but to be clear this is really just to raise the debate on what is influence and how do you calculate it? Personally I think we have far to go to nail this. If I had to write a formula it would be something like this: [[C (content) x S (sharing) = R (reach)] x [T (trust)]= I (influence)]]. Now how do you measure that across all channels? That’s a question for the technologists and data scientists.
      I should also mention that in GRIT we do measure organizational influence, and those results will be published very shortly. You can see how we have approached it previously via this link: We’ll be using a similar approach this time around as well.

  2. cool. I don’t see the math/methodology behind this. is it public? How does it differ from the last effort? Why do you feel its more accurate? Looks like a similar list with the inclusion of a few notable omissions.

    One thing that would make list very helpful and actionable would be if list was broken out by area of expertise. For example, if I wanted to hire mobility or health care research expert, who are the top five people I could consult with.

    Interesting GFK seems to be the only really big research company in top 25. TNS? Ipsos? Nielsen? LRW? IRI? Seems like missed opportunity for them.

  3. While I’m very pleased to be listed, I understand that this analysis is only one of many potential approaches to measuring influence. The most exciting part of all this is the debate that is bound to happen in the online research community. It depends on how one wants to define “influence”. I’ve worked hard to build a solid network of market research professionals and companies. I think my high ranking reflects that. Another way to look at online influence is to consider offline thought leadership and content creation. It seems that by that definition, this analysis misses the mark. I don’t pretend to be anything other than what I am (a cube dwelling research worker) but apparently I am skilled at social media! I agree with Michael in that it would be helpful to better understand the methodology. Daniel, may I suggest you lighten up a bit. I share content that I believe will be interesting to others. Sometimes I hit the mark, sometimes not but I don’t believe I’m talking to myself. I’m primarily interested in the discussion around methodology and I didn’t request that the LRW list be published. Still, it is an honor to be listed and I consider it to be a fun way to enhance my personal brand. 

  4. Perhaps the term “influencer” needs to be operationalized (or changed). Also, per some of the comments above, and before, we should acknowledge the beautiful mess that Twitter is. It is not the same thing as influence in MRX field, but its still important, and if it is indeed that different than real MRX than that is really important to know. I would love to see a comparison. I get the vibe from some people that it is the case.

    Daniel–I agree your comments are kind of intense in the way you framed them, but you bring up good points. I don’t know any of the people you mentioned, but if they strive to be influential, joining twitter would likely help there cause. Part of being influential is making yourself accessible.

    Term Influence connotates that the info led to some follow-up action. In my mind, they could fall into a couple of categories. Some of them could manifest themselves directly on twitter: (1) retweet (2) click on link, and/or (3) follow someone.

    They could also lead to off-twitter behavior, perhaps more important, like thinking of new idea, trying a new methodology, or attending a new event, buying a book, etc. Not sure if this this model captures that element but I think that would ultimately be the most important thing.

    New ideas are tough to quantify. Example: Katie C does a lot of wearable and google glass post; thats new, interesting, and could be huge but not yet actionionable.

    I tweet/retweet people I tend to agree with or share my view on what is the “right way” is to do something. I may want it to be influential but in some ways calling it influential is almost misleading, because we don’t have a sense of what happens next.

    I also use certain people as benchmarks as who to follow. For example, I pay attention to who Cathy H, and Jeff H follows, as I know they know people well. So in reality they are have influenced me the most on twitter because ultimately they guide my content consumption.

    Also its important to note twitter is used commercially, and is an open platform. So if you want it to mean something subjective, perhaps a survey would be in order. Twitter is dynamic and open, and it will always be open to what one may see as “manipulation”, but there are no rules.

    I would bet if I loaded on a few cups of coffee and freed up a few days, I could squeeze my way up there for day or two. If Cathy H was bored one day, she could wipe out all on MRX in a few hours 😉 That’s good and bad, but a reality.

    Fun topic.

    1. I love the debate folks, and it is exactly why we do things like this here on GBB. Plus it’s always fun to make lists. 🙂

      Ultimately influence comes down to the ability to change behavior, or maybe a better way to say it is elicit a response. To do that it is necessary to first have attribution and secondly have a measurable action, which is most easily quantified in the online world as “clicks”, which I think includes clicking a link or sharing some type of content. Views without clicks has some play in this as well, but that is certainly harder to measure so we use a combination of views (if available) and network size as a proxy.

      Ray’s approach at a synthesized meta analysis of the various approaches used here (which did not include LRW’s list because it happened later) at least gets us to a good list of folks I think we can agree have a combination of network size to tap into to elicit an action and measurable activity by others of that action. And although we use Twitter as the primary distribution network to focus on, I know that virtually everyone on these lists also utilize LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, their own blogs, etc.. as distribution channels, and it’s pretty self evident that they carry some level of offline influence as well since they are all also generally in demand speakers at events or contributors to publications.

      There isn’t a locked down formula here folks, and I wish there was, but maybe we can all put our heads together and figure it out? In the meantime, let’s recognize that lists like this are not meant to be definitive, but rather examples and the folks on there deserve kudos no matter what.

  5. Don’t see (m)any clientside names there – hmm. Does that mean they aren’t influential? There are plenty of closed online clientside networks.

    1. Agreed, but I think part of the challenge here is being able to measure, and that means some type of metrics and data to use. Social Platforms are ONE way to get there, and this case there just aren’t many clients involved actively to register in an analysis.

  6. And shouldn’t academia be more represented here? The business
    faculty of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Wharton. Pinar Yildirim, Kelly Goldsmith,etc. Teach market research at top universities.

  7. Has it ever been the case that academia has had a major influence on marketing research? In 34 years, I can’t recall seeing our industry adopt anything that’s hot in the universities in a contiguous time frame. Maybe much further down the road, but not soon in any sense. I’m sure there’s an exception I’ve missed, but can’t be many or powerful.

  8. They may not be. But what does it say say about Mrx that we are so disconnected from the educational institutions we all went through. Just a thought. Part of the strength of mrx is diversity of skills represented, but every doctor, lawyer, plumber, etc has a core set of knocked that sets foundation.

    I have seen quite a few professors at the ART conference. The academics bear the burden too.

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