As PR professionals, we are constantly using the word “influence” in our conversations – but do we ever stop to think about what it means? Here’s a reminder:
[in-floo-uh ns] noun, verb, -enced, -enc•ing.
1. The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce efforts on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc, of others.
At the PRSA Northeast District Conference, I attended a session called “Beyond First Impressions: Getting to Real Online Authority, Trust and Influence” led by Jen Zingsheim, vice president, products and services, CustomScoop. Jill reminded us that influence is not defined by celebrity status, level of popularity, or the number of followers you have on Twitter. By definition, it’s about the power that a person or thing has to incite action, behavior, or opinions. In her presentation, Jen called out a handful of free and paid tools that have recently sprung up in attempt to help us quantify online influence. But remember, no matter how many tools are out there, additional research is usually always needed to supplement and refine your search for that perfect online influencer that will genuinely impact your target audience.
Klout - Klout is a simple and free tool that most of us are probably already using, but it’s one that we’ve grown to realize cannot be a sole form of influence measurement. Now, users have the ability to give others a “+K” on any topic they are listed as influential about – basically making your topics a popularity contest. An example that Jen shared about Klout had to do with Justin Bieber, who comes in with a Klout score of 99. With his influential topics including family, South America, and umm…himself, one would need to look past the numbers and take a deeper-dive to determine if he is actually the appropriate influencer for their topic or if his “popularity” is a result of him tweeting upwards of 20 times per day and all those +K’s.
PeerIndex – PeerIndex is another free and easy-to-use measurement tool that helps users “understand their social capital” by giving a glimpse at the users’ “topic fingerprint,” or rank in a topic community. This fingerprint is measured using three separate components – audience, activity and authority – among the following eight benchmark topics:
- AME – arts, media & entertainment
- TEC – technology & internet
- SCI – science & environment
- MED – health & medical
- LIF – leisure and lifestyle
- SPO – sports
- POL – news, politics & society
- BIZ – finance, business & economics
PeerIndex also shows a list of top content sources and allows you to click on any topic to bring up a list of additional users that are influential about that same topic – along with their PeerIndex score, Twitter handle and other valuable data.
TRAACKR – TRAACKR is a keyword-based monitoring service that can help users determine influencers in a sophisticated and automated manner. The tool combines three qualities when finding and ranking influencers:
- Reach – How many people does this person reach when they write something online?
- Resonance – How often are their posts repeated, linked to, retweeted, and shared? Do they get amplified by his or her network?
- Relevance – TRAACKR measures relevance based on the keywords the user is targeting in their search lists and how recent, often and important they are in the influencer’s content.
These high-quality influencer lists come at a cost with TRAACKR – upwards of $8,500 per year when you factor in that a single search that yields one top-25 influencers list can cost $499 per month and a one-time set-up, training and lifetime support fee will cost $2,500.