DISCOVERING YOUR INFLUENCER SERIES: Analyzing Your Influencers

Looking at resultsIn searching for your influencers, there’s probably one hidden gem that businesses may be overlooking. Most businesses may not have this readily available at their disposal and it’s not a specific software that you’ll need to have, but various companies are responsible for creating these tools for those who are social media savvy. What tool am I talking about? It’s your social media monitoring tool. Whether you’re using Radian6, ScoutLabs, Attensity360, Sysomos or any of the countless others at your disposal, the point is that if you are already using social media monitoring tools to gauge your campaigns’ success, then there is a wealth of knowledge at your disposal that will surely help you find your influencers.

Don’t think about searching company specific

When dealing with social media monitoring tools, the thing that some people may think about is monitoring their own company. This is a really good thing to do, but did you know that you can also analyze things more abstract and broader than just looking at who mentions your company or brand name? In fact, next time you’re using the social media monitoring tool of your choice, explore more about what people are saying with respect to the type of product or perhaps your competitors. Wait, competitors? Yes…if your product is looking to enter into a market and you need to find the right people that are talking about that market, then look to see who is mentioning your closest competitor. If you want to get a wider range of conversation, then look at the genre as a whole. If you’re Sony and want to get your new digital SLR camera out into market, but you know that more people are talking about Canon or Nikon, you might want to do a search on which influencer is mentioning “digital photography” or “camera equipment” or “digital SLR cameras” as that’ll pull up results with more commentators.

Understanding your social media results

If you’ve used social media monitoring tools before, then you’ll know that what they give you typically involves sentiment analysis, relevant blog posts and keywords of interest – basically the equivalent of what you would get for Google Analytics if you were measuring website traffic and performance, but a bit more contextual. So how is one supposed to interpret it to figure out who their influencers are? Well let’s look at where it all starts out…with the dashboard. Obviously I can’t tell you how to find influencers on all your monitoring tools because, quite frankly, this post would be rather lengthy if I did it for every single tool out there. Instead, I’m going to focus on one and talk in generics – that tool is ScoutLabs.

Finding influencers with social media monitoring tools

When you log into your monitoring tool, the dashboard is typically the default screen that you would see. It gives you a summary overview on whatever searches you’re conducting. When dealing with social media, you’re typically going to have results from Twitter, blogs, comments and maybe other social networks like YouTube, Flickr, etc. based on how open the network is & if the tool you’re using has integrated with that data. Nevertheless, look at the details and like you would encounter in finding influencers in search engines or forums, see if there is someone who looks promising and/or has engaged or conversed about the company, product, industry or topic you’re searching for. That may be who you are looking for.

These social media monitoring tools will also provide you with a sentiment analysis on your search. If you are doing a query on a specific product, say your own, then you might want to look at both the positive and negative reactions to see who has the loudest voice and who could be easily changed. Never assume that the only influencers you should reach are those that are positive or talk about your product/company/brand. In fact, it’s definitely rewarding to have a negative reviewer change their mind and become positive about their experience and also of your product. So don’t ignore them. The negative people are also influencing others in their thinking. So make sure you look at who is being the most “negative” AND also “positive” and see whether they are worth reaching out to more & whether their reactions will change the perception people have about things.

Now you can obviously search through countless search results on Google or Bing and poll what Twitter users think about your product, but with monitoring tools like ScoutLabs or Radian6, you’re going to be able to look at what the general sentiment and conversation is across multiple fronts, including blogs, Twitter, forums, etc. It does it all for you. Now you just need to parse through that information to find out who’s worth reaching out to and who can do the influencing job.

Are these the influencers you’re looking for?

Finding influencers with social media monitoring tools

Perhaps the most powerful section in social media monitoring tools is the part where you get to find out where all the mentions are made relating to your search query. Anytime someone posts something relating to the query, it will appear in this area of your monitoring report. But rather than just throwing it against the wall and you figuring out what sticks, these tools now work for you and show you which result is more influential than the rest. Of course you can sort based on tool used (Twitter, forums, news, comments, etc.), but the bottom line is that these tools at your disposal will pinpoint and highlight which of the latest results is the most influential – positive or negative too.

What you should do is to look through each of these results and see if there are any that standout as possible influencers. Once you’ve found them, then you need to look at what they wrote and educate yourself on who they are and how they could be contacted. Don’t assume that you can simply go up to John Doe and say “I saw you wrote a post on my company. I’d like to talk.” Okay, that may work, but you need to give them more context. Think about social media monitoring tools as your sneak peek. It’s giving you a preview about how you’re going to angle your attack when you want to get someone’s attention. It’ll give you that extra edge over everyone else so you know where to look.

One thing that I’ve noticed from looking at ScoutLabs and this might also be true with other monitoring tools…there are also keywords that are also included in this area. Why is this so important? It’s because it might help you understand what context people are talking about your product. For example, say you’re running a hospitality company…while you would like to think people are using the word “hotel” to describe your business, what if they were actually using “inn” or “motel”? These frequently mentioned words that are trending may give you an insight into what people are thinking and also offer you a new avenue towards finding other influencers.

Social media monitoring is not a passive tool

Don’t discount social media monitoring as something more reactive than it should be. In fact, after you’ve gotten your social media monitoring software activated and ready to go, I would begin doing searches on your product and other common references to help give you an idea of what people are saying and to begin to reach out to your influencers. It’s not after your campaign has launched that you look back to see what people’s reactions are. Rather, use the features offered with these tools to help shape the sentiment and news that is being produced…be more proactive!

Image credit: miklay / sxc.hu