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Key Insights from Altimeter’s Digital Influence Report

By Priya Ramesh (@newpr)

Digital Influence

Last week Altimeter’s principal analyst, Brian Solis released the Digital Influence Report to help us understand the tenets of digital influence marketing; how to identify individuals with a social capital to increase word-of-mouth for your brand and ultimately measure their impact or “digital influence” on your maketing efforts. I highly recommend you download the free report (see below) especially to understand the strengths and limitations of 14 digital influence software vendors like Klout, PeerIndex, Radian6, Traackr and the like. CRT/tanaka uses Radian6 as its agency standard of measurement and we keep our eyes on new social media measurement apps to evaluate what’s best for our clients who have varying needs in terms of digital metrics and measurement. So this report from Brian Solis definitely helped affirm some of our hesitations to use certain software applications that claim to measure “influence” and strengthened our  understanding of how to best leverage some others. I have tried to summarize what I think are some of the key learning points from a digital measurement perspective.

What is Digital Influence?

With the advent of social media, “who” says “what” online could have a positive or negative ompact on your brand sentiment. As explained in the Altimeter report, “When combined with the effects of social media, what people say in social networks can reach far beyond the extent of traditional marketing. Depending on the number and caliber of an individual’s connections in social networks, their reputation, and what’s shared, what they say about a company can go viral. The resulting word of mouth and activity will cause an effect, change behavior, and influence the actions of others.”

In short, “the ability to cause effect, change behavior and drive measurable outcomes” is called Digital Influence. 

Social Capital Predicts Influence:   So how do we go about identifying “influentials?” Influentials are folks who have a strong voice on a particular topic and/or have a good following online. As defined by Brian Solis, “influentials are individuals who possess the capacity to influence based on a variety of factors such as substantial or concentrated following in social networks, notable stature or authority within a community, and the size or loyalty of an audience.” The social capital of these individuals is a “direct resut of significant investments of intellectual capital, goodwill and goold old fashioned networking.” One thing to note is while brands die to get a simple re-tweet from Justin Beiber and Guy Kawasaki as they are clearly “influentials” based on their following, it is critical to also identify “influentials” who may not boast millions of followers on Twitter but command a huge social capital in a given topic or space.  

3 pillarsThree pillars of Influence:

Pillar 1 — Reach: Relationships form the union of the social graph and define how finformation can travel across the social graph and communities at large. Reach is a measure of popularity, affinity, and potential impact.

Popularity: The state of being liked, admired, or supported by many people.
Proximity: The location of an individual is taken into consideration where effect is necessary within a particular setting or environment.
Goodwill: Investing goodwill into one’s community increases appreciation and the probability for collaboration and action.

Pillar 2 — Relevance: Topical relevance is the glue of the interest graph and the communities of focus. Individuals aligned through subject matter create a series of linked relationships that send information along communities of focus.

Authority: As an individual invests in the subject of topical relevance, they naturally earn a level of authority on the subject matter. Authority levels also prompt respect, which is a reward for expertise or specialty.
Trust: Difficult to measure, trust is the source of most meaningful relationships. It’s also a word that’s difficult to describe. We all know what it is. Here, trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truthfulness, ability, or strength of someone.
Affinity: A natural liking or sympathy for someone or something. Connected consumers establish affinity within their communities, and it buoys their position.

Pillar 3 — Resonance: The culmination of reach and relevance serve as the foundafor “the score.” Here, resonance is the measurement of the duration, rate, and level of interactivity around content, a topic, or conversations. High resonance ensures that more people will see each post or update. In theory, this number determines the reach of activity and how long it can stay alive in the social streams of online consumers.

Frequency: The rate a social object, topic, or person materializes in social streams.  Typically, frequency is tethered to a given theme, conversational thread, or media related to a particular campaign.
Period: The length or portion of time it remains visible after the initial appearance.
Amplitude: The level of engagement within a network.

Don’t just rely completely on Klout Scores and the like to identify Influentials:  While the Altimeter des a good job of comparing some of the popular measurement software providersbased on key features like score, reach, topical relevance, resonance, list development, campaign management and engagement metrics (similar to Gartner’s magic quadrant format), the key takeaway from Brian Solis there is, “As connected consumers “live in public,” their activities are captured and measured. These actions, reactions, and the relationships that expand and contract as a result, contribute to the state of an individual’s social capital in each social network. Don’t just rely on a score or a report; see for yourself what makes someone valuable to his or her community.”

Digital Influence Metrics: Key metrics on digital influence as outlined in the Altimeter report include:

  • Brand Lift/Awareness — Benchmark where the company is today in social networks, and set goals and KPIs to improve brand awareness and reach.
  • Brand Resonance — How often is your business discussed in the social web today? Define how resonance will keep your business top of mind and to what extent can be driven through influence programs.
  • Reach Through Advocacy and WOM — Existing advocacy and WOM initiatives can be designed to influence customer behavior and decisions.
  • Sales/Referrals — Through special offers and promotions or exclusive incentives for engagement, brands can drive leads, sales, and referrals.
  • Sentiment/Shift — Negative or indifferent perception can be shaped toward positive or favorable views.
  • Thought Leadership/Authority — Tapping into the communities of expert individuals can help your brand tap its social capital to contribute to the stature within the community you hope to earn.
  • Demand — Invest in demand creation through exclusive programs and intentional outcomes.
  • Trends — Changing behavior is possible once you understand what it is today, how you see it evolving, and identifying the right people and value to help you get there.
  • Audience — Investing in the size of your community and its quality is a function of design and purpose, and its value grows through strategic alignment and engagement.

My word of caution to brand marketers is while you rely on software applications like Klout, Traackr and Radian6 to identify inluentials and yes this might be a starting point to your influential campaign, it might be helpful to also use a manual check to ensure you are targeting the right influentials for the right topic. According to Klout, Rick Santorum is an influential on “diapers” but thank God I know enough about him to not pitch him for a new diaper line coming out next month. http://mashable.com/2012/03/22/rick-santorum-klout-bomb/.

 To dowload the complete report visit slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/Altimeter/the-rise-of-digital-influence.”  

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2 Comments on “Key Insights from Altimeter’s Digital Influence Report

  1. Pingback: NEWS FETCH – MARCH 27, 2012 | Wine Industry Insight

  2.  by  Dallas

    Nice introduction to the Alltimeter report – I’ve downloaded and skimmed this before but you’ve iinspired me to read it again. Thanks!

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