What Makes Someone An Online Influencer?

Hint: It’s Much More Than A Number!

Guest bloggers Gaelen O’Connell and Melinda Venable are Principals at Social Scouters, a new consulting firm that creates influence marketing and social media programs for startups, non-profits, and corporations.

Melinda Venable
Melinda Venable

Tools for measuring a person’s level of digital media influence are more abundant than ever, but are they comprehensive? We don’t think so, and many industry leaders seem to agree. While these tools can slice and dice quantitatively to give you a general sense of one’s reach and engagement abilities, most don’t cover qualitative aspects of influence.

We believe influence largely depends on mutually beneficial relationships, credibility and trust. Qualities like these motivate people to listen to what someone is saying, internalize their advice and take actions that benefit a company’s bottom line. Influencers make these things happen. There’s nothing wrong with people who inspire fans or followers to take more superficial actions (likes, retweets and comments, they’re all great for generating awareness), but influencers go beyond the surface to help a company develop new leads, sales and stronger user adoption. To say we can truly call someone influencer without knowing how they contribute to a company in these respects isn’t painting the whole picture.

Gaelen O'Connell
Gaelen O’Connell

One can use analytics systems (via trackable codes and links), etc. to track how individuals directly motivate people in their online networks to try, buy or adopt products – but first you have to narrow down who’d make the best candidates for this further analysis.

Based on our experiences creating influence marketing programs (and teaching others how to do the same), here are some qualitative things to look at when you’re prospecting for influencers. Take them into consideration in addition to any quantitative data you gather elsewhere:

Trust
Find out who your trusts your prospective influencer. Look at who engages with them on a regular basis and the quality of those interactions. Is there evidence the prospect’s fans or followers agree with opinions he or she has shared? Have the fans and followers confirmed they’ll take specific actions recommended by your prospect to learn more, try or buy products/services?

Find out who your prospective influencer trusts. Look at who the prospect links to in his or her blog roll, reference in tweets, recommends in Twitter Lists, tags in Facebook statuses and pages liked.

Relationship strength
Observe your prospective influencer’s interactions. Do your prospect’s relationships appear mutually beneficial? Can you find evidence that your prospect engages with his or her online community offline/in the real word?

Credibility
Look for 3rd party validation. Does your prospect participate in industry-related speaking events? Twitter chats? Webinars? Has your prospect won any industry-specific awards? What do your prospect’s clients or customers say about them?

Social Scouters

Try incorporating some of the qualitative information discussed above into your influencer research. You’ll have a much richer picture of who is most likely to motivate his or her online communities to take the actions that contribute most to company’s bottom line. We, at Social Scouters, pay attention to qualitative factors when identifying the best influencers for our clients. We also weave them into our approach when developing relationships with influencers who we’ll later cultivate into brand advocates. It’s a very personal type of approach that we believe delivers the best results – consider using it in your digital media strategy.

Social Influence Marketing

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

Last week, a young man who loves body art AND his Pioneer headphones decided to combine these two passions into one tattoo.  He instantly uploaded a photo to Pioneer’s Facebook Timeline (company profile):

Pioneer Headphone Tattoo
Photo courtesy of Tyler Patrick Clancy, who posted his photo to the Pioneer Facebook page

Within the first 17 hours, Tyler’s tattoo photo had received 87 Likes and 181 Shares.  Remember that each time you Like a photo or Share it to your page, it broadcasts to a portion of your Facebook friends and shows up in their New Feed and/or Notifications.  The more Likes, Share, and Comments a given photo gets on Facebook, the more likely it will show up in another’s News Feed.  Users can also adjust how they see Company Updates, as pictured below.

Facebook Interest Lists
How to add a Facebook Fan Page to your Interest Lists

Later that same day, the administrators of the Pioneer Facebook Company page were smart to repost the tattoo photo to their Timeline, which pulled another 1,350 Likes, 55 Comments, and 182 Shares.   All from 2 mouse clicks.

Pioneer did not pay this young man to get a tattoo, nor did they have to pay a photographer to take his photo.  They did not hire a Public Relations firm to put out a press release on a wire service.  They did not host a photo contest on Facebook for the craziest tattoo. They could have promoted this post or used Facebook Ads, but my guess is that they didn’t pay Facebook anything to promote this post.  The buzz was all generated purely from social influence.

But it does not mean that Pioneer’s social marketing team was not doing their jobs.  On the contrary, I would say they were “all over it”.  With over 328,000 Company Page Likes, their strong social community was ready, willing, and able to share Tyler’s new tattoo as soon as he uploaded it, spreading the Love Of Pioneer all over the audio web. Oooo weeee, sticky icky icky!

Traditional marketing efforts do not resonate on social networks as well as social influences and peer recommendations. For example, a stock photo of these same headphones would not be shared to the same extent.

New social media apps like Spotify have featured songs and suggested playlists based on a given user’s music tastes, but its far more likely that a user will check out what his or her friends have listened to before listening to a promoted track.  Users can send individual songs to friends, share them to their profiles, and create custom playlists (much like mix tapes back in the day) that can be followed or even setup for collaboration.  Recommendations and updates show up in a user’s Inbox, without having to send the actual song files around in emails, etc.  Artists and song writers collect royalties based on the number of plays.

Spotify Social Influence

A few months ago, I was invited to a collaborative Spotfiy playlist, where various Spotify users share “new” music with the group, usually on Fridays.  There is an accompanying secret Facebook Group so that collaborators can easily share comments about songs and artists.  This also utilizes the Facebook Notify function on smartphones to let other Group members know there are new songs added to the playlist.

Facebook Group

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy being part of this collaborative Spotify playlist, and how many new bands I have “discovered” from it. Although I only know two group members on a personal level, I prefer hearing “new” music from these group peers rather than commercial radio. I am not against radio, but most of the stations have been bought out by conglomerates who try to choose which music is going to be successful before it even gets airplay. If every radio station was still independently owned, we would have a lot more diversity in the music that we listen to, and a lot more faith in the station operators.

Imagine that: radio DJS that we could trust to introduce us to new music.  They should make an app for that.

Do you use Spotify or Facebook to Share music with your friends or followers?  Email me at pkav dot info at gmail dot com

Facebook: If You Don’t Like It, You Can Logout

Please Stop Complaining About Facebook On Facebook

By Paul Konikowski

Facebook Close Friends
How to add someone to your Close Friends list on Facebook

If you are one of the millions of people “on Facebook” (yes, its kind of like a drug),  you may have noticed that a lot of Facebook users (junkies) tend to complain every time the website makes changes.  For example, the switch to Timeline upset a lot of people who were content with their old Facebook Profiles and Walls.  And lately, many users and especially bands are sharing this post from Dangerous Minds and/or posting a similar meme saying “Facebook, I Want My Friends Back”.

Many are upset that their Friends or Fans are not seeing 100% of their posts 100% of the time. Tell me, would you really take the time to read hundreds of posts each day from all the Friends, Bands, and Pages you have liked over the years? Just like in real life, the more friends you have, the less you see of each of them. The more hobbies you engage in, the less time you spend on each interest.

Facebook Interest Lists
How to add a Facebook Fan Page to your Interest Lists

Instead telling FB they are wrong for trying to prioritize the posts in your News Feed, or that they are wrong for trying to make a profit by using Promoted Posts and Advertisements, you should take some time to learn more about EdgeRank. Go to your favorite Pages and click Add To Interest under the Like button; Unsubscribe from Pages you don’t care much about; label your Close Friends as such, and I guarantee your News Feed will be much more fulfilling.

If you have done all that, and are still mad at Facebook for the changes they have made, just logout, or even better, close your Facebook account all together, and save us all a few seconds each day.

Remember, Facebook never promised that your followers would see all your posts, nor should they; it’s simply impossible. No one is forcing you to be on Facebook; but I for one am glad you are “on it”.

Facebook Friendship Pages
Preview of the next big change to hit Facebook: Friendship Pages. For more info : http://on.mash.to/RIFNvw