The State of Influence Marketing and Scoring Platforms

The State of Influence Marketing and Scoring Platforms

As some of you know, Influence (or I should say the attempt of measuring influence online), continues to make waves in controversial waters.

The latest: a list of “top 50 influencers” in social media published by Forbes (no link love). The problem: a score by Peek Analytics is used to measure influence triggering an obvious and, in my opinion, well deserved negative reaction. Check out my favorite responses from Mark Schaefer and Jure Klepic.

Influence is a big part of the social media conversation and will continue to be as it, hopefully, shapes into something we can all live with. I mean, we’ve been talking about influence for a while now…

But how about “Influence Marketing”?

It’s important that we make the distinction between Influence Marketing and Influence scoring.

Influence Marketing has always been part of our lives, whether we recognize the term or not. Everyday, brands put their products in the hands of targeted individuals that have a clear impact in an specific niche.

I think this quote from the upcoming book Influence Marketing, by Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella, not only provides a clear definition of what the goal of marketing is but it also makes it pretty obvious that influence is a natural aspect of marketing.

The end result of any good marketing effort is to identify, engage, and nurture the most qualified prospects, ensuring the leads generated drive the highest customer acquisition rate

Is “Influence Scoring” a good idea?

Let’s start by saying that measuring influence might not be such an innovation as you think. When big brands want celebrities to endorse their products, they carefully study options, their current popularity, size of audience, body of work, credibility, etc., before determining who is the best fit for the brand.

The idea of brands and small businesses having a system to identify these individuals is not crazy. Even the idea of companies being able to better understand where a possible candidate for a position stands in a particular segment makes some sense, wouldn’t you prefer to hire a person that already carries a level of authority and respect in your market?

It’s clear that we seek social proof, on and offline, as an important factor for building trust.

Where is the epic fail then? Is it that we find it “unhuman” to carry a flashy score over our avatars online? or that the proposed systems and algorithms are broken?

What’s in the future of Influence?

One thing is clear, brands understand that with social media, they have lost part of the control to its consumers, they also understand the importance of channeling their message through individuals that can influence highly targeted communities.

These individuals exist, now, how are brands identifying them?

ArCompany and Sensei Marketing conducted a study that addresses some of the questions involved in how marketers approach influence, how they use it and whether or not the existing scoring options are really useful or not. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings.

Are marketers currently conducting social influence campaigns?

While 36.5% responded that they have occasionally used social influence, 28% say it is a key element in the majority of their campaigns.

Have you used social influence campaigns in the past?

Are marketers planning to invest in social influence campaigns?

I guess the future looks very bright, 14% say they plan to allocate 50% or more of their annual marketing budget to social influence campaigns and 53.9% plan on dropping 20% to 50%.

Budget allocated to social influence campaigns

Are marketers using a influence scoring system?

And here is the big disconnection. 64.1% say they do not use a scoring platform but have a manual process to identify influencers instead, and only 4.9% say scores are a key element in their online marketing.

Are you using influence scoring platforms in your marketing?

Do you trust social influence scoring platforms?

A massive 68.7% think influence scoring platforms can help as a starting point to filter potential options but they don’t consider them a standalone measurement. 25.2% say they don’t trust a system that has proven to be easily gamed.

Do marketers trust social influence scoring platforms?

Conclusion

  • Influence is at the core of marketing today more than ever, specially online
  • There is a clear need for marketers to implement systems to identify opportunities and individuals with clear influence that can carry and inject their messages into smaller and targeted communities
  • Marketers need to understand how data obtained from scoring platforms can be used and how they need to use other criteria to overcome their limitations
  • The main focus should always be prospect, not the influencer

The Forbes list?

A lot has been said already but I think the main lesson is that scoring algorithms alone are far from being a measure of true influence and, just as we suggest brands should conduct research to identify the right prospect for an influence campaign, a manual process with actual human criteria should have been in place. Simply relying 100% on an algorithm seems like a lazy and irresponsible approach.

Resources

If you are interested in learning more about this study and Influence Marketing in general, here are a few useful links:

  • You can download the full study here
  • You can pre-order the book “Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing” by Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella here (not an affiliate link), which hits the stores on May 13
  • And you can visit the official site for the book here

Your Thoughts

Where do you stand in this controversial topic? Has your company considered targeting influencers for your next campaign? What do you think of social influence scoring platforms?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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  • http://www.johnpaulaguiar.com John Paul

    Great post Francisco.

    What I find funny is the people “complaining” about the Forbes list, are also the people that if they were on the list would promote it like crazy all over their blog and social profiles.

    Also these are some of the same people that have 100 thousand followers yet have blogs that been around for yrs and their Alexa are still in the millions.

    If your a self proclaimed “social media expert” yet you can not drive shares and traffic to your own content and your own blog, then YOU ARE NOT INFLUENTIAL!

    It really is that simple.

    All this is a joke man. If being on a list like that is that important to you, that you get upset when your not on it, then you have some issues.

    Finding influential people is very simple. yet people seem to over complicate it. You don’t need useless online tools that “find” influence, all you need is to do some work..

    check that persons blog
    are they getting shares?
    are they getting traffic?

    watch what that persons does online
    are they in the conversation?
    are they creating conversation?

    If they answer are yes, then you found someone with influence, whether they have a “name” OR not.

    If they answers are no, then they have NO influence, no matter how many of their friends say they do.

    Sorry to jack your post man… your good post got me thinking. :)

  • http://www.socialmouths.com/ Francisco Rosales

    Hey John,

    No problem man, your opinion is always valued. I agree with you on simplifying processes, not sure if it’s that easy when you’re talking about big brands. And also, if you are a “player” in an specific segment, shouldn’t you know who the influencers are?

    Which is also a point going back to the list, if the author has the authority to publish a list like that on a publication like that, wouldn’t you think he knows the market? I don’t need an algorithm to name 50 influencers in social media…

    I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t expect the list and I didn’t expect to make it in that group, who are we kidding… I don’t speak at conferences, I don’t have 100k followers, hell, I’m not even a full-time blogger. I can’t make the list and that is clear to me.

    I’m part of the Top 50 SM Bloggers according to Kred and never hanged the badge on my sidebar either… http://topsmbloggers.kred.com/

    But I do see a problem with many people that were excluded. You and I know this is social proof and whether we care or not, the reader/prospect is impacted. Let’s be real, the only reason the list is important is because is published “on” (not even “by”) Forbes, it becomes almost “THE” official list in the eyes of the reader.

    Going back to determining who is an influencer, I agree 100% with you, that’s why I say the author should have used additional criteria (or simple common sense). I didn’t want to do any name dropping but, if you are part of this industry, you probably know Mike Stelzner IS in that group and probably in the Top 10 too.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people in that list that I follow and respect and even some friends, you included.

    All I’m saying is, simply relying on an algorithm is lazy and irresponsible.

    I bet you and I could go online and research any industry and have a pretty good idea of who’s who in a couple of hours.

    Thanks for your comment dude

  • http://www.johnpaulaguiar.com John Paul

    I agree 100 % that he should have used more then just the criteria that he did. and I also agree that because it was put on Forbes, but not by Forbes, it get’s respect. Like I have said before I was on the list, and now that I am on the list, is is cool but it would be 100 times better if the list was done by Forbes.

    Would I rather be on a list my peers I respect put together because they came together and brainstormed who’s who in the industry regardless of who their friends are?.. Hell yes, that would mean more to me, because it’s coming from the people I respect and see are doing the same things as me, and getting real results.

    To be clear man, my rant wasn’t targeted towards you, haha just a few people I have noticed over the past couple weeks complaining.

  • http://www.socialmouths.com/ Francisco Rosales

    Yup, that’s why I have respect for a list like the one @smexaminer publishes every year, public nominations + a panel of “recognized” individuals.

    That’s actually the closest to the process you described before.

    Thanks man and, I didn’t take personal, no worries. =)

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/michaelqtodd Michael Q Todd

    Off to check out the list guys and will be back to complain like crazy if I was missed out LMAO.
    No but seriously. My wife goes online for 10 mins 2 or 3 times a week and barely influences anyone. I drove her Klout score from 36 to 77 in 6 days simply by tagging her in 5 or so FB photos that several other people (who had probably inflated their scores in the same way) with high scores had also been tagged in. It really is that simple

  • http://en-gb.facebook.com/michaelqtodd Michael Q Todd

    Darn missed again. And I have 4 times as many followers as allowed for their free “pull” (LOL) analysis. So I cannot even see how their system works. I would not lose any sleep over any of this Francisco. I am pretty sure that it will all die out soon enough. Also missed the Kred sm bloggers list even though I am 969/10 (should have had me 5th or 6th). No idea what I have done to piss them off…

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