Archive for November 2010

5 things to consider when engaging social media influencers online

Tweet

question-mark

Image courtesy of Jack Monson

With the launch of our social media influencers report this Friday 3rd December, we thought it would be useful to think more about how to engage with influencers online.

Our report road tests how well nine of the leading social media monitoring tools - Attensity 360, Brandwatch, Radian6, Alterian, Scoutlabs, Sysomos, Synthesio, PeerIndex and Social Radar - can identify  social media influencers. But once you have identified your influencers, how do you go about engaging them online?

Here a few things we feel that all brands and businesses should consider before engaging with their influencers:

1. Get to know your influencers

Before you jump in and start engaging with your influencers, be sure  listen to the conversation that is taking place on the blog, forum or social media platform where you are going to engage with them.

Read through previous discussion threads, conversations or any other relevant information you can find so that you can learn more about your influencer, what they are saying and how they are saying it.

Perhaps you could even segment by type of influencer, or the value they could potentially have for your brand (eg, spreading word-of-mouth about a product launch, reviewing your product or services etc).

This will help you use the appropriate tone and content for engaging with your influencer when the time is right.

2. Learn when to engage…and when not to

There’s no need to take part in all conversations with your influencers; sometimes the topic may be relevant, sometimes it might not. Sometimes it just won’t be appropriate for you to get involved with an influencer at all.

This will call for you to use your own judgement. Perhaps think about how much value you can add to a conversation or discussion. Or, assess how would you react in an offline scenario - would you join in the conversation or not?

Finally ask “what’s in it for me?”

If you can see no value in engaging with the influencer then don’t bother. Just because they’ve been identified as a potential influencer for your business doesn’t mean you have to engage with them.

3. Build an honest relationship with your influencers

As New Media Age commented in an article about engaging with “mummy bloggers“, it is important to be “authentic, accept criticism, not patronise and ask, not tell”. This is sound advice to anyone wishing to engage with influencers.

In order to build a successful relationship with your influencers you must think of all interaction as a way of building up a relationship. You should be looking at influencers as potential partners; as people who can champion your brand. Make them feel like an insider - they have a key position in your market place as they both speak to and represent your target audience, so treat them with the respect that they deserve.

Be mindful that influencers are giving you their time and expertise so make them feel valued and acknowledge their contributions.

4. Don’t go in with the hard sell

Yes, some influencers will be aware that you have a commercial interest in them.  And while some are commercially astute, there are always other who eschew all commercial influence.

Instead of pushing your own agenda, expand conversations beyond your specific products, brand or messages. Think about the wider topic at hand and then build up a relationship with them before discussing anything too commercial.

5. Be realistic about the results you will achieve

When  engaging with influencers it is important to understand the difference between affecting and controlling perceptions. While engaging influencers will go some way to affecting the perception of your brand and products, you cannot entirely control the outcome of your efforts.

UK Internet Statistics

Tweet

I am a sucker for uplifting videos about UK internet statistics. Particularly if accompanied by a happy jingle and sprinkled with start-up success stories. It’s warming for us little-islanders to occasionally  feel important “we’re on the map!” And here’s a video that delivers just that.

According to the film, produced by The Boston Consulting Group, “In the global internet league table, the UK sits at number six. Ahead of the US, Germany and France”. Nice.

I hope you enjoy it and the cameo from @Acton who is starting to look like a Moshi Monster.

Which tool is best at finding social media influencers?

Tweet

shutterstock_65038519While Social media monitoring tools are invaluable for helping with buzz tracking and for finding influencers, it’s important to take into  account the importance of human analysis.The results are not just about the quantitative metrics; it’s more nuanced than that and you need someone who can understand and interpret the data according to the needs of your business.

When choosing a tool, one of the most important things to consider is how the tool lets you sort, filter and drill down into the search results. This will help you identify influencers that fit with your overarching social media strategy.

Depending on your requirements, you may want to pick a tool that focusses in on one platform, like Twitter or Facebook. Alternatively, you may also want to look for a tool that gives you a broad understanding of influencers e.g. how active they are across different social media platforms, or their average level of engagement etc, which will really enable you to focus in on the type of influencer or influencer activity that is most suitable for your brand or business.

Our final report, released via our blog on 3rd December, will give detailed information about the ability of each tool to identify influencers, and we’ll also reveal which ones we felt performed the best across a variety of critera.

For now, here are a few of our highlights:

Brandwatch

  • Perfect for giving you an overall view of where your influencers might be located.
  • Allows you to drill down into results to find key information e.g. number of relevant posts.
  • Very well integrated platform with easy to view influencer metrics .

Alterian SM2

  • Drill down capabilities allow you to completely tailor results to focus on a particular site of influence.
  • Easy to compare data.
  • Well presented data with interactive graphs.

Attensity360

  • Integrates metrics well e.g. Klout scores.
  • Gives a broad picture about influencers and influence scores.
  • Ability to add customised “user-defined metrics” to influencer search.

Peer Index

  • Great for targeted influencer searches based on individual business objectives - results are very much tailored to your own needs.
  • The ‘results’ report gives you influencers both at an individual level and a site level.

Radian6

  • Allows you to drill down in to data in several different ways .
  • Range of ways to segment and sort data to enable you to customize the dashboard.
  • Easy to user interface to enhance user experience.

Scoutlabs

  • Gives key insights about influence at a glance, with the ability to also drill down into data.
  • Functions like “key quotes” and “frequently used words” give insight into the online conversations.
  • Simple and inviting user interface that is easy to use.

Social Radar

  • Gives a broad overview of what conversations are taking place about your topic.
  • Allows you to view the relationships between different sources of influence on the web using their infographic style “Visualizer” tool.

Synthesio

  • User can create an environment that is completely tailored to your specifications.
  • Strong multilingual performer.
  • Allows you to see influencers at both an individual and more general level.
  • Great data presentation including graphs and charts.

Sysomos

  • Unique feature include a tool that allows you to see the authority of people who are following influencers on Twitter.
  • Allows you to find both sites of influence as well as individual influencers.
  • Good segmentation of data.

How do social media monitoring tools find influencers?

Tweet

0Social media monitoring tools identify influencers through a series of algorithms. Each tool uses different parameters and metrics to help identify influencers online.

The different tools look at influencer in different ways. Some can help you find an influential person or influential people; some help you find a site of influence.

Not dissimilar to Google, most of the tools don’t openly talk about the algorithms they use to calculate influence, but the majority  do take into a account a number of factors that aren’t just based around popularity.

Most of the tools we tested, including  Sysomos and  Alterian SM2, use metrics that are dictated by social media channel or platform  - eg, the tools use “number of views” to find YouTube influencers, or “number of followers” for Twitter. Rather interestingly, Attensity 360 uses information from another influence identifier,  Klout, to identify Twitter influencers.

Some tools, like Social Radar,  determine influence based on the number of posts about a topic and the number of backlinks (the number of incoming links for external sites that link to a web page or website).

Other tools, like Brandwatch, not only look at the number of inbound links but also take into account the age of the site, the PageRank and traffic to the site.

As well as using some of the more standard metrics seen throughout the tools, some of the tool providers have also developed their own terminology and measurements to help brands find influencers.

Scoutlabs use an algorithm to determine what they call “importance”. This includes their own editorial opinion about a comment or post, as well as its relevance to the topic that is being searched for.

Meanwhile, Attensity 360 uses “impact” to define influencers. Impact is a proprietary metric created by Attensity to provide “a more accurate estimate of the impact/influence of coverage related to a specific topic”. Attensity also offer users the chance to add “user defined metrics” to their search, allowing clients to customize metrics to the needs of their businesses.

It is this ability to sort and customize influencer data for individual business requirements that makes the tools valuable.  Synthesio, Radian6 and Sysomos are the most flexible when it comes to to drilling down into information about influence as users can sort and interact with the data using a variety of metrics.

As the tools all identify influencers and then segment data in different ways, it is important to carry out your own research into the tools before you use them. Research the tools before investing time and money in using them. Talk to the tool providers about your objectives so that you can really find the right fit for your brand and your social media strategy.

The final version of our social media influencers report 2010 will include detailed information about how each tool identifies influencers.

The report will be released online on 3rd December following on from the launch of the report at our breakfast seminar on 2nd December. You can sign up for the event by clicking on the button below:

You can register for the event by clicking on the button below:

Register for How to target social media influencers in London, United Kingdom  on Eventbrite

4 steps to finding social media influencers

Tweet

five-stepsIt’s all very well knowing what an influencer is; the real value only comes when you can identify them for your brand or business.

Here’s our four step guide to helping you find social media influencers:

1) Set clear goals

The most important step to finding influencers is to have clear goals for why you want to engage with them, and what you want to achieve. Take a step back and really think about this.

Do you want to increase visits to your website or ecommerce site? Or would you prefer your influencers to spread word-of-mouth about a new product you have launched?

Do you want to increase conversion? Or would you rather influence consideration/decision making?

Influencers can play a part in several different points of  interaction with your brand, so it’s important that your goals align with your overall social media strategy.

Whatever you decide, it’s important that you develop a two-way relationship with your influencers; it’s not just about transmitting your own brand messages.

2) Listen to your target audience

Once you have your goals in place, listen to your target audience.

For those brands who are already using social media monitoring, you may already have the insights that will help you find the right influencers for your business.

For those companies that are not monitoring social media: get going NOW.

Unless you know what your audience are saying about your business or market, where they are saying it, where they go to find information, and whose message resonates with them, you will not be able to identify the most appropriate influencers to reach your target audience.

3) Choose your tools carefully

There are an abundance of social media monitoring tools on the market: both free and paid-for. Do your research into the tools - our social media monitoring tools report may help with this.

The tools vary quite considerably and there are many nuances involved in selecting a tool. So when you decide which one is best suited to your goals, keep in mind who your audience is, as well as how and where they communicate in social media (we’ll be covering how the different tools perform in a later blog posts, as well as our final influencers report which will launch on 3rd December).

4) Be realistic about time and resource

Think about what resources you can dedicate to the task of identifying  influencers - don’t underestimate the manpower involved.

While social media monitoring tools certainly reduce the manual work involved, you’ll still need someone who understands your social media strategy and can choose the most appropriate influencers from the results returned by the tool.

Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, that person you choose will also need to know the right way to engage with them online.

Our next blog posts will look at influencer scores.

To find out more about social media influencers look out for our detailed social media influencers report 2010 which tests nine of the leading social media monitoring tools to assess how effective they are at identifying influencers. The full version of the report will then be released via our blog following an exclusive launch at our breakfast seminar on Thursday 2nd December.

You can register for the event by clicking on the button below:

Register for How to target social media influencers in London, United Kingdom  on Eventbrite

Our readers can also get 10% discount on the ticket price for Monitoring Social Media 2010, taking place in London on 22nd November – please use the discount code “fresh”.