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.
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%.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
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!