In an earlier post, I talked about some of the resources on the web that you could look into as a starting point to help you find your influencers when you want to promote your “widgets”. What we’ve talked about thus far is how you can begin your search by using sites like AllTop, social bookmarking tools like Del.icio.us or StumbleUpon and also Technorati. But instead of using conventional search tools like Google or Bing, the Internet offers a wide array of services within the social media arena. Why exactly is social media a good tool to help you figure out who’s an influencer? Because it’s more structured as a conversational platform and offers more context to help you assess someone’s credibility as someone people would listen and respond to.
Finding your social media quan.
You might not know what I’m talking about when I say “quan”, but if you’ve ever seen Jerry Maguire, you know this is where Cuba Gooding Jr’s character tells Tom Cruise’s character about being the master of quan. In social media, this quan can also be known as a different name: whuffie or social media capital. This is an intangible substance that you need to have in order to be considered an influence. For people in company roles designed to help find people of influence, this is something that they’re trying to determine. So in social media, what can you do to determine someone’s whuffie factor? Let’s take a look at one of them in this post: Twitter.
Tweet! Tweet! Who’s Tweet Is Louder?
With Twitter, there’s a lot of conversation taking place on this platform. In fact, Twitter is acting like a giant service designed to help promote Word of Mouth marketing. But rather than one person telling a few of their closest friends at any given time, through Twitter, they can virally share their thoughts to many at any given time – often to hundreds of thousands. And if the sent message is really powerful, it can be repeated and shared over and over again. Now this doesn’t work for just positive news, but can also affect your brand and company in a negative way as well. So just because you have found an influencer, don’t think that they can’t turn it right around.
So what are some ways to determine just how influential someone is on Twitter? Well for one you shouldn’t judge their status based solely on the number of followers they have. In fact, one helpful thing to remember is that a person with just a 100 followers is just as influential if not more than someone with 100,000. Why? It’s because of the quality of the followers and not the quantity – hence why your follower count doesn’t matter. But I shouldn’t dissaude you from looking at their follower count completely. In fact, you might want to assess that person’s viability as an influencer if he has 100 followers and is following 10,000 people. That might not be a good sign of being an influencer.
Content is king…and this goes quite well with finding an influencer. If they’re always retweeting other people’s messages, do you consider them to be an influencer? Probably not. In fact, think about it like your friend always repeating your news. It kinda doesn’t seem like they have a mind of their own and just wants to help share your information. That’s fine, but you’re not looking for someone to help share the information, you are looking to have someone shape the course of your product and convince others to buy your “widget’. Look at their content to see if they are frequently writing stuff that is interesting and relevant to your product. Glance at their bio and see if it mirrors what they are tweeting about. If the whole grand scheme doesn’t synch up, then you might have to put that person’s name on the “maybe an influencer” or “not an influencer” pile – I might choose the latter.
Make sure that you look at the lists that these people are on. Is someone notable putting this individual on a list? What other things can he/she share to give you an idea of what people are saying and do those lists correspond to your needs and are they relevant to the communities you want to reach? One great site to check out when it comes to Twitter lists is Listorious, which I wrote about last year.
Considered to be the first and preeminent Twitter list directory currently available on the web today, Listorious is always a good start to see who is on the best lists without you having to comb through millions of Twitter profiles just to get to the right people. In my last post, we used a “photography” example, so if I wanted to see what lists existed to help me conduct an outreach program to find photography influencers, I would simply do a search for keyword or tag named “photography” or some other deviation. From there, I could possibly get a few Twitter lists aggregated and shared on Listorious. It would probably be smart to look through each individual list to see if there are any common denominators.
Another good measurement to determine someone’s value as an influencer on Twitter is through Klout. Known as probably a defining measurement of influence when it comes to the platform, Klout uses a sophisticated algorithm to assess someone’s “value”. On a scale of 1-100, a person’s profile is analyzed and rated. The higher your score, the more influence you have. It should be pointed out, though, that these scores do not determine influenced based on specific industries or markets. There are many different influence classes that Klout has established to help paint a better picture of where everyone stands and doesn’t include all the Twitter profiles – only those that have signed up to the site. As an added benefit, when you search for someone on Klout, you’re able to also view who they influence and who influences them. Plus you’re able to look more in-depth at their Twitter analytics, specifically what topics are they more prone to talk about and which tweets has received the highest reach.
Now I should also say that there are several other Twitter influence metrics that you could use to help reinforce your selection of influencers. Others that do a pretty decent job of helping achieve this goal are services like HubSpot’s Twitter Grader and Twitalyzer, among others.
But in a post I wrote a few months ago, another great service to look at was created by PR firm, Edelman as a means of determining one’s influence. Granted they’re a PR firm, but they have put together a great service designed to measure someone’s influence based on a few key criteria: influencer, popularity, engagement and trust – all great qualities as a means to be a true motivator.
Twitter’s not the end all be all, right?
That’s right…don’t think of Twitter as the definitive means of finding out who is an influencer. You’ve only cracked the surface of social media. Yes, finding influencers on Twitter is pretty simple, but there are other avenues and sites for your to discover and more tools to use to help you understand where real motivation comes into play.
Coming up next, we’ll look at other social networks and communities to find out where you should look…