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Klout score? Number of Facebook friends or page fans/likes? RSS subscribers? LinkedIn connections? There are all kinds of stats and tools available to learn about social media users and/or find the people that are most influential. For our "Discussion of the Week," we want to know: What's the best way to measure social media influence? The floor is open!
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Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

When I was helping a client in the medical industry look for influencers on Twitter, I used a bunch of different sites/tools/stats. Sites like WeFollow.com, Klout and Twitter itself provided some basic numbers.

But stats can be so deceiving, and followers can be bought for just $19.95 (or lower) ... so I don't think influence can be measured that way alone. We also spent time reviewing how they used their Twitter accounts -- how many @ replies they send to followers, how often they're just posting self-promotional links, etc.

I think the best way to measure social media influence is a combination of numbers/research along with gut instinct based on what you see the person/account doing. And then you also have to be ready to say ... You know, this person/account isn't what we thought it was. Let's stop wasting our time.



Avatar Moderator
from hugoguzman 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

The answer to this question probably depends on the nature of the company/individual and what their personal/business goals are. I don't there's a one-size-fits-all answer.

One short-cut I use on Twitter is to basically keep tabs on which of my retweeters are able to generate secondary retweets (e.g. people that retweet their retweet of me). That's usually a pretty strong signal of Twitter influence.

(Note: I'm always looking to see how many secondary retweets I can garner when I retweet something, as a ballpark measure of my own influence).

Of course, this is also influenced by the quality of the content being RT'ed but you get the idea...



Avatar Moderator
from toddmintz 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think Klout is about the best metric I've seen for measuring influence, but as Matt says, it goes much deeper than somebody's Klout score.  How do people use the influence they have is much more important than the number of followers.  Plus, how accessible is the person to your contact?  I'm sure Robert Scoble has more social media influence than Matt McGee...however, Matt is much more likely to respond to me :.)



Avatar Moderator
from gregfinn 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Personally, I recommend the opposite way to look.  Go out find articles that you like on blogs, magazines, industry news - then search for the author and see if they have social accounts to follow.  This is a much slower process than using a directory like Twellow, but in my opinion it is a much better quality to look for than a follower count.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

This may be a contrary view, but I'm not really sure why anyone even needs to measure this.

Shouldn't you be measuring traffic and conversions from social media?



Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Why measure influence? Because connecting and forming relationships with influential people is a smart way to increase your exposure and visibility. One small biz owner formed a relationship with me via commenting on my blog, and that comment eventually landed the business on the cover of a small business magazine. (And I'm not even that influential.)

In the case of my medical industry client, connecting with influencers has been great for link building, direct traffic via exposure to their audiences and ... ultimately, yes ... conversions. (Triple digit increases in conversions, fwiw.)

Of course you should measure traffic and conversions, but you tend to get more of those, I think, when you form relationships with influential people in your industry.



Avatar Moderator
from hugoguzman 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Jill - that was my first response to this topic, but I figured I would play along.

Influence is cool and all, but if it doesn't translate into dollars and cents, it's not really worth much.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@mattmcgee I guess that makes sense, but it's important to note that today's not so important influencer may be tomorrow's.



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from seotheory 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 1

There is a certain brand value to being the point of discussion in social media (without necessarily obtaining any links or traffic).  An influencer in this context would be someone who starts a conversation that takes on a life of its own (lasts more than a few minutes or hours, captures responses from more than a handful of people, including multiple responses from individuals).



Avatar Moderator
from nowsourcing 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I like what Todd's said here - "How do people use the influence they have is much more important than the number of followers.  Plus, how accessible is the person to your contact?"


Influence isn't everything.  In the world of social media, everyone has their own level of influence.  Take any 2 people you know: they have had different backgrounds, lived in different cities, went to different schools, hung out with different crowds, different jobs, etc.


Influence + availability + specific niche incluence is more powerful than a guy that has a million Twitter followers.

Also, Klout is a pretty good indicator of how someone is doing on Twitter, but what if they dare take a vacation from social media or have been busy and not been on Twitter much? If we're talking from a "how powerful is your blog" perspective, an indicator could be the amount of traffic and social actions a typical blog post brings, along with the average number of comments.  Postrank has some in-depth analytics on this subject.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1211 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Just saw this article that goes along with this discussion:

Are You "Measurable"? Why Influence Measurements Matter



Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 1210 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I don't believe influence can be accurately measured. the variables that make up 'influence' are variable. It's like trying to measure 'pretty'. But I commend the enterprising companies that have developed these tools. No one has ever gone broke appealing to people's egos.



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from CraigDesmarais 1210 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Klout score is a fairly good indicator because it shows how your social presence is portrayed, whether you are more of a influncer on influncee, if thats a word.  I believe the way influence is best shown by engaging with others in the comment sections of blogs and forums.



Avatar Moderator
from ajkohn2001 1209 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I'm a bit surprised no one has mentioned PeerIndex as a competing measurement tool to Klout.

Both are interesting quantitative metrics but there's so much going on underneath those numbers. One of the observations I've made is that being outgoing and talkative seems to be equated with influence.

I, personally, find a Tweet stream full of @replies to be nearly useless. But those types of interactions (even if it's about something inane) seem to be rewarded.

Now, sometimes those personal relationships do translate into influence. But where does that leave those of us who aren't social butterflies or aren't keen on self-promotion. (I fit into that bucket.)

So then it's about whether what you say matters, is it interesting, are you a thought leader or at least an authority. That's different than pure popularity, which is what a lot of the 'amplification' seems to be about.

Much of what Seth Godin says today is pretty bland IMO, yet because he's popular it gets amplified through Tweets and Likes etc. I suppose popularity = influence to some degree but it feels ... off.

People willingly admit to retweeting something without reading it based on the author. I suppose this sheep-like mentality is the definition of influence, just maybe not the type of influence we'd like to acknowledge.



Avatar Administrator
from Michelle 1209 Days ago #
Votes: 2

@ajkohn it's exactly because the metrics used really are more a measurement of popularity that I think they are useless. Popularity does not equal influence (except in most tools). Steve Jobs is not very popular at Google. But he's clearly influential there.  The most influential people in business don't even bother with Twitter.


That's not to say that there aren't ways you can further spread your message through the social ecosystems by engaging (or buying) users with large networks. I just wonder at the actual ROI of that. I'd love to see someone put out some actual data whereby they sought out "influencers" within their target markets (using those tools only), engaged them to promote content, and how it ultimately panned out. The actual ROI.  I'd also love that data broken out FB vs. Twitter. :)


I remain unconvinced of the veracity of an algorithm measuring influence, in the absence of that kind of data.




Avatar Moderator
from ajkohn2001 1209 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@michelle I'm with you 100% and I too would like to see a real-life scenario where an influencer program is proven out with data.

However, the problem, again, will be popularity versus influence. The two are entwined in strange ways.

For example, I remember way back I got a strange email from Bill Rancic about this thing called LinkedIn. I wound up signing up. Now, he wasn't influential but he was popular because he had just won the first season of The Apprentice.

At the end of the day sometimes popularity is influence. It shouldn't be but that's what makes the idea of influence so tricky IMO.



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