There has been a lot of buzz around social influence scores as marketers, PR professionals, and even customer service teams increasingly turn to these tools to help better understand their communities and to facilitate decision-making. But not all influence tools are created equal, as they often measure different things and may even be irrelevant when it comes to a particular initiative or brand effort. So what are the major ways to measure influence and what tools are best for your needs? Well, it depends, and that's why I've developed a Community Influence Pyramid to help you select the tool that's best for your particular situation. The pyramid starts with the most basic and broadest influence measurement tools and ends with the Holy Grail - a highly customizable approach that can have you engaging with key brand advocates around an individual brand, product, or topic in the channels that are most relevant to them. Also, check out the brand relevance grade for each type of influence tool, as I scored each based on how relevant each tool may be to an individual brand's need to identify, engage, and influence the influencer.
Personal Influence Measurement Tools
The broadest and most basic of all influence measurement tools are the personal influence measurement solutions such as Klout, PeerIndex, Kred, TweetLevel, and PeekAnalytics. They serve to identify individuals, rely primarily on social networks as the source of their data, and create scores and profiles based on a particular user's activity. Many of the tools mentioned here rely on consumers to provide access via an account sign-up in order to gain access to their social profiles to calculate the influence "score." Marketers may also see these tools (e.g., a Klout score) integrated into their social campaign management solution in an effort to provide marketers and customer service departments with some additional context around individuals who may be talking about or engaging with their brand.
Brand Relevance Score: C
Contextual Influence Measurement Tools
Next up are contextual influence measurement tools, which start with content and attempt to identify and analyze the influence of individuals around a given topic and/or conversation. These tools often employ sophisticated text analytics to scrape the web around key content areas and to identify users who have created or interacted with that content. User scores are assigned to individuals around content or topic areas and can be helpful to marketers looking to reach or engage groups of users around a particular issue or brand strategy. Sample tools include mPACT Pro, TRAACKR, and Appinions. Here again, marketers may see many of these tools integrated into their social campaign management solutions.
Brand Relevance Score: B
Brand Influence and Engagement Index Scores
Taking it up a notch in both relevance and usefulness are brand influence and engagement index scores, which might be calculated via third-party tools (e.g., CalmSea) or via proprietary algorithms developed internally. These tools may leverage an API connection or feed such as Facebook Connect to look at an individual's activity and influence. Individuals are scored based on their sharing and ability to get others within their network to the brand's page/campaign or website. Scores may also be calculated around engagement by looking at the individual's likes, shares, and posts/comments, and often use recency, frequency, and the volume of each to create a score (e.g., 0 to 100). These scores are extremely relevant to identify brand advocates as they reflect activity tied directly to the brand and within the community.
Brand Relevance Score: B+
Custom/Cross-Channel Influence Scores
Looking for influence and advocacy nirvana? Well, it will probably have to be a custom solution. For the ultimate solution for finding influential individuals who can advocate for your brand around a particular topic or issue, leverage cross-channel CRM data and activity (opens, clicks, likes, comments, retweets, @mentions, etc.), third-party influence scores, brand specific influence/engagement scores, purchasing and loyalty data, and history. These solutions may also allow brands the ability to sort, weigh the individual components selected, and can also give the brand the ability to analyze and score the data to create custom scores and/or models. As a result they are also the most expensive to develop and maintain and are for the most part proprietary solutions. However, having built and seen these solutions in practice at leading Fortune 2000 brands, I can honestly say the results and use cases/applications are powerful. Imagine you're a product manager preparing a new product launch. Looking for advocates to test the product and provide feedback, query your CRM system for individuals who currently own an existing product, have opened/clicked a relevant email campaign, liked/commented/shared a relevant post on a social community, and have loyalty scores in the 90th percentile based on their points. Download the segment and begin your conversation. This is the future of building conversations with advocates around specific products or efforts and it may even change the way we as marketers think about our marketing launch and roll-out plans in general.
Brand Relevance Score: A
Given the rise, and increasing importance of social media, influence scores will no doubt be here to stay. However, what remains true for much of marketing in today's world is that the best and most accurate solutions will most certainly be customized around an individual's unique data and a brand's specific needs. For more information around influence measurement tools, check out The Realtime Report's Guide to Influence Measurement Tools, one of the more comprehensive reviews of the various influence tools on the market today.
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Michael Della Penna is senior vice president of emerging channels at Responsys. His responsibilities include spearheading the overall strategic direction, partnerships, and solution offering across emerging channels including social and mobile for the company. Michael is a seasoned marketing professional with a long, proven track record of launching successful marketing, branding, and sales strategies for leading public and private companies. Most recently, Michael founded SuiteDialog, a full-service email and social CRM agency that helps brands ignite conversations and cultivate relationships with customers across the social web. Prior to SuiteDialog, Michael founded Conversa Marketing, a social CRM company that was acquired by StrongMail Systems in 2010. Before branching out on his own, Michael served as chief marketing officer for Epsilon, a leading provider of multichannel, data-driven marketing services. Michael's other key marketing leadership roles include CMO at Bigfoot Interactive, VP of strategic development at CNET Networks, Inc., and VP of marketing at ZDNet. Michael received a B.B.A. and an M.B.A. from Hofstra University.
March 19, 2014