This post was originally published on Edelman.com.
We are at a wonderful tipping point in the business of influence analytics. For the first time ever, sociology and technology are colliding enabling us to identify the influence type of an individual by the patterns of their online behaviour.
Why understanding influence type is important?
In order for PR and marketing professionals to enable their message to resonate as successfully as possible, they must engage with key influential people in a manner that complements them. For successful engagement, any interaction must follow three key tenants:
- Context: Ensure that the topic you are discussing with the influential is relevant to them.
- Time: Speak to them when they are receptive to the discussion. This could be because it is currently of interest or perhaps more significantly (and often forgotten) simply when they are awake.
- Influence type: Engage in the way that most closely matches their behavioural characteristics.
Edelman uses its own proprietary methodology and state-of-the-art technologies to analyse behaviour of individuals to determine their influence type and segments them into one of five classifications. Of course having an influence type in itself means nothing, it is learning from this so engagement with this individual can be as effective as possible.
- Amplifiers frequently have a large audience and following. Their expertise may be deep but often they rely upon other contacts to provide opinion to which they then let their readership know about. They often have professional or commercial motivations but are also more often than not self-created experts and avid sharers of information. Their advantage and their burden is their huge number of followers they need to keep satisfied. This behaviour ensures that they need to receive pre-packaged content that they can easily repost, retweet or repurpose so that their audience does not diminish. Amplifiers are frequently well connected to idea starters as the source of their content.
- Idea Starters are the creative brains behind many of the concepts that other people talk about. Even though they may not necessarily have a large audience themselves, their insightful opinions often flow and are repeated throughout conversations long after they have left. They are typically well connected to other Idea Starters (with whom they collaborate on thoughts) and Amplifiers (who they often rely upon to spread their views). Idea starters tend to be well connected to Curators and Amplifiers.
- Curators, though having a far smaller audience than Amplifiers and Idea Starters, are perhaps one of the most influential groups. Long after the Idea Starter and Amplifier have left a conversation, it is the Curator that maintains discussion. This niche expert collates information about a specific topic and is frequently sought after for advice about this specific area. They often take part in discussions with Idea Starters and are avid readers of topic-specific amplifiers.
- Commentators individually have little influence. Their behaviour often resembles little more than adding a comment without contributing greatly to the conversation. Their influence should not be ignored but should instead be viewed as a collective to measure the trend of opinion around a subject. An interesting factor is that this group are often self-moderating – when negative comments are posted, these contributors will often intervene to correct inaccuracies or a unfounded negative views.
- Viewers don’t leave a footprint except through search engines. Indeed it is through search engines, and the impact of Viewers on search results, that these other groups become influential and evolve their role within a conversation. Authority rests with the search patterns of those who simply observe in a democratic world.
With pressure on PR and marketing professionals to deliver great success with occasional limited time and budget, ensuring that any engagement is targeted and effective is critical.
Image credit: nzgabriel