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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.