Saturday 10 December 2016

Friday Five: Qualitative Measures of Influence

Influence measurement tools such as Klout, and our own Tweetlevel, and BlogLevel often serve as a starting point to measure the influence of online stakeholders. As a culture that responds well to simple classification systems – think grades in school – these tools feel like all-inclusive answers.

Many of them put a simple numeric value on influence, but qualitative analysis is still imperative to understand the full scope of influence.  A person, not an algorithm, is the only way to answer the following questions:

  1. Voice – Does the voice of the influencer align with the brand?
  2. To fully grasp an influencer’s voice, you must be familiar with his or her content on all of the channels on which he or she engages. Can your brand fit within the narrative that the influencer has already carefully crafted? If so, engaging the influencer will “feel right” for the brand, the influencer and the audience, leading to a more productive relationship for all parties.

  3. Audience – Does the influencer influence the right audience?
  4. While tool-based metrics assist in determining someone’s influence, the influencer’s audience plays a crucial role in his or her suitability, too. An influencer who reaches a different demographic than desired by a company won’t be as effective despite how his or her quantitative “influence” data stacks up compared to less influential people who reach the key audience. This is a layer that automated tools can’t address because they don’t understand business objectives; a human evaluation is necessary for strong qualitative analysis on an influencers audience.

  5. Relevance – Is the influencer relevant for the strategy or tactic at hand?
  6. Influence is relative to a multitude of categories, most importantly to a business objective and related strategies. Consider this hypothetical scenario at a tactical level: I have 50,000 followers that engage with me about bacon, I have a blog about bacon, and I frequent events for people interested in bacon. To say the least, I am a bacon influencer who can reach many bacon enthusiasts. If the objective is to reach a growth market that hasn’t historically consumed large amounts of bacon, my influence on bacon is less relevant because of who I influence.

  7. Context – Does the influencer’s current content reflect openness to a brand’s engagement?
  8. Relevance and context align closely. The difference is that context online relates to an influencer’s overall content strategy – where each piece of content fits within the media. In the current media landscape, bloggers, tweeters, public speakers and journalists all have influence based on the context of the outlet in which their content appears. Context is also an important consideration when working with bloggers – how does the program fit within the influencer’s life? Be mindful of how relevant your brand can be if the context of an influencer’s content shifts.

  9. Reach – or the million dollar question
  10. Reach has helped traditional marketers compare influencers across media channels, but online influencers don’t jive with this antiquated single metric. Due to the context, relevance, audience and voice of an influencer, one acceptable metric for reach can sway the “influence equation” drastically, making standardization difficult. A better approach is to create benchmarks, then evaluate “potential impressions” against more valuable measures to deduct success and viability of engaging that influencer.

Influence is important, but has many variables. The clauses of influence are infinite and no algorithm has cracked the code. How are you measuring the influence of a stakeholder? What tools supplement your measurement? Do any tools hinder influencer recommendations?

Image credit: vintspiration

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