There’s been a lot of talk in the past year about defining and measuring influence across the social web. People that are more influential online are often perceived as more valuable from the perspective of being brand advocates and social persuaders. For the sake of simplicity, try and think of influence from how a large company might see it. Let’s say there are two individuals who are both equal in age, gender, and both fit the same general demographic. Individual A has a Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn account, but doesn’t use them frequently, doesn’t communicate directly amongst online social connections, and doesn’t express any significant topic of interest or expertise. Person B also has a Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn account, but is actively using them on a daily basis, communicates with a large network of people, is looked up to by friends and colleagues, and is considered very knowledgeable about particular topics of interest. Who do you think is more valuable to the large company? Who do you think would better serve as an ambassador of the company’s brand message from a value stand point?
Everyone that can be considered a customer or a potential customer should be acknowledged as far as customer service is concerned, but there’s no escaping the fact that certain individuals yield more influence online and thus should be sought after and communicated with using a different approach.
Startups such as Klout and PeerIndex have made if their mission to define and become the new standards of online influence. Both Klout and PeerIndex track a multitude of factors that they use to help in the process of determining a persons online influence. This may include the number of correspondences a person is having online, the size and quality of connections amongst an online social circle, and how far spread out a persons influence is. Both Klout and PeerIndex assign each individual a score that changes over time as they become more or less influential.
What does it all mean?
It’s recommended to keep an eye on influence scores, but not obsess over them. Use the scores to your advantage when it comes time to reach out and find influential people around certain topics. Also regularly keep track of your own score and think about it as part of a bigger picture when it comes to developing a communications strategy.
Twitalyzer is another useful tool for Twitter analysis.
Tac Anderson recently wrote a helpful article on how to incorporate influence metrics such as Klout into the web browser.