In the past few years a number of start-ups, such as Klout, Peerlndex and Kred, have been offering Web applications that make it possible for companies and organisations to identify the most influential social media users.
These analytical tools, based on private algorithms, help to identify those users that are the most active within the social networks, and award them a specific social score, depending on what metrics they use. They gauge these users’ activity and their level of commitment on the main networks (Twitter and Facebook) and work out the influencers’ social capital.
The amount of influence exerted within the social networks has now become part of any marketing strategy devised by professionals and companies. Today, they have access to more than thirty different applications on the Web. This new market has evolved very rapidly and the current leaders are continually competing against one another, by incorporating new platforms into their metrics and by offering new functionalities. And, if the trend continues, then we shall be seeing a number of other, serious players, with a more contextual approach, emerging in 2013.
Whether one likes it or not, within the new brand-name and professionals’ business environment of the social networks, the level of influence is absolutely essential in deciding any new marketing strategy. However, rather than being considered as a necessary evil, the list of influencers that emerge therefrom can prove to be an extremely powerful lever in a more contextual analysis. (read also: The Strategic Impact of TOP Charts, on WindMill Networking)
Understanding who can influence whom, and in what context
Marketing agencies have, however, also caught on that is not a popularity competition and is not limited to social capital. So as to benefit fully from the power of recommendations and the viral effect of “word-of-mouth”, one first has to understand who can influence whom, and who can potentially become a new ambassador who will pass on the brand message in his/her networks.
In order to introduce a profitable influencer relationship, the Web professionals and companies have to look at it both from the point of view of the influencer (the expert) and from that of the one being influenced (the new consumer, who will potentially become a new ambassador).
As my mentor, Neal Schaffer, emphasizes (in the preface of my new book*), influence always depends on the context of the relationship between the influencer and the one being influenced: “If certain famous “Mommy bloggers” influence mothers that have just given birth, they themselves can, in turn, be influenced by “new mothers”, or mothers specializing in organic cooking who are prepared to share their recipes.” It doesn’t matter how much expertise and competence an influencer may have in his/her particular field, sooner or later, in some other context, it is he/she who will become the one influenced.
This influence relationship will depend on several contextual factors, such as the timing when the conversation takes place and the geographical or demographic context in which it will take place. However, in order to fully comprehend the role of each of the players (who is influencing whom), one also has to try and understand what the aims of each of the two parties are and to ascertain the degree of receptivity between the two, vis-à-vis the other. One has to ask oneself just how relevant the message is and in what way it fulfils the expectations of the one being influenced. (read also : Four Ways Context Impacts Online Influence, by Evyenia Wilkins (VP Marketing) on the Traackr blog).
*[“Generation C and the power of Influencer Marketing”] coming out in 2013.
Traackr : Influencer lists put into context
Traackr is one of the new influencer contextual analysis platforms, about which you will be hearing a great deal in 2013. “Traackr was created in 2009 by its founders (the Frenchmen, Pierre-Loïc Assayag and David Chancogne) with the aim of rethinking the way influencers are sought on the Web, concentrating on individuals and their content, rather than on the success of their Web pages”, Nicolas Chabot, VP European Development, explained in an interview that he granted me in December.
“The objective is to be able to identify who are the most important individuals and, therefore, which are the contents that have the greatest impact on specific subjects. Traackr makes it possible to find individuals from all of their public conversations, on the basis of a search by key-words that define the subject matter/the community in question.”
This sophisticated search engine is at the heart of the start-up activities located in San Francisco. “This unique search engine makes it possible for communication and marketing professionals to identify, get-to-know and monitor the main opinion leaders on the social Web, those that one would designate as influencers in their sectors. It makes it possible for them to implement their influencer marketing campaigns on the Web, concretely and easily, by having direct access to the most relevant content published by experts in their community. The way it operates, the tool incorporates as many blogs as it does social networks,” explains Nicolas Chabot.
In order to evaluate the impact of the influencers that emerge from the search results, the company has twinned it with an algorithm which creates a classification on the basis of the three main pillars of influence in social networks: reach, resonance and, in particular, relevance of the message. (read also: The Pillars of Influence and How To Activate Cause and Effect, from Brian Solis, of the Altimeter Group).
“As opposed to Klout or Kred, for example, the Traackr tool is not a social game. It is rather a means towards the three criteria: reach, resonance and relevance, which make it possible for us to classify the individuals that we find. The score for relevance (relevance in as far as it relates to the research carried out) is weighted because we are convinced that influence is deeply contextual,” maintains Nicolas Chabot.
An improved interface and a wealth of new applications
Up until last autumn, the Traackr search engine only took English content into account. Now, since January, the tool incorporates French content (and influencers), as well. In the course of the year, Traackr intends to develop other European markets, including Germany. The development team is currently upgrading on a geolocation functionality which will also make it possible to better target influencers by country and major cities of the world, more easily.
From the dashboard, the user is able to access the influencer’s detailed profile and to connect directly to one or the other of the influencer’s accounts on the social networks. At the same time, he/she can review the key-words and add new influencers who will complete and improve the list. He/she can also filter influencers’ conversations by key-words and sort the “A-list” according to one or the other of the three measurement criteria (reach, resonance, relevance), in order to obtain new lists. In the final analysis, the user also benefits from advanced functionalities that make it possible to obtain detailed graphic reports for each list.
Even if the “A-list” of influencers that emerge from the results of the Traackr search engine come at a cost, they nevertheless offer several functionalities that make the investment worthwhile. Traackr is proving to be a very flexible tool for Web professionals, in whatever sector they may be.
TOP 25 – Generation C: A personalised list of influencers
I suggest that you have a look at the personalised list of influencers that I drew up with the Traackr tool, in order to test its capabilities. It is an initial list of social media influencers who write and blog regularly on the subject of the new generation of trendy consumers – the Generation C prosumers.
Since my original aim was to find other influencers on the subject, I deliberately removed myself from the list. I also excluded bloggers who continually relay the same content or those who publish intermittently on the subject, using curation tools, such as Paper.li or Scoop.it. And, finally, other bloggers whose content relevance only crops up from one, single key-word in the original search list.
Here then is the list: TOP 25 – Génération C. I was particularly pleased to find Neal heading the list, as well as several other bloggers who bear an influence on what I think of Generation C, on it.
I would therefore like to invite you, in turn, to comment on it and to suggest new key-words that would help to improve it. Tell us what do you think about this list of influencers. Is there someone who is missing? Share us your suggestions for new entries.
I would also like to thank Liane Blanchette, Evy Wilkins and Nicolas Chabot, of Traackr, who have kindly helped me to refine this list.