As more and more businesses start using social media to market and talk to customers, understanding the reach and influence of those customers is becoming more important. This has seen a wave of start ups developing algorithms to help brands, social media managers and PR agencies identify influencers and highlight their online reach. However measuring online influence is no easy task and can’t be seen as a one size fits all solution; instead it should be taken as a benchmark to help inform but not dictate your social media plan.
Here are the main players:
Probably the most well known site for measuring online influence, Klout looks at activity across all of the major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare and Tumblr) and assigns a Klout score between 0 and 100. At this stage Klout probably has the most comprehensive coverage of social networks in its algorithm, however it has come under criticism for not being transparent and easily gamified (people can manipulate their social media activity to increase their Klout score). Klout has also implemented Klout Perks, allowing businesses to offer products or services to individuals with a certain Klout score or influence in a specific topic. The idea is to get that product or service into the hands of the people who will then talk about it through their social channels and influence their audience.
A relatively new player, Kred launched in September last year and is trying to differentiate itself by transparently outlining exactly how your Kred score is broken down. Every tweet, mention or retweet is given a score (which is all visible from your dashboard), which is then totaled and averaged across the Kred network to give an idea of where an individual sits. Kred gives two scores, a measure of Influence, which is based on how often you are retweeted, replied, mentioned or followed on Twitter, and a measure of Outreach, which is reflective of how often you engage with others. Outreach is calculated from how often you retweet reply and mention others.
PeerIndex aims to measure influence in the context of authority on a particular subject. Its main point of difference is that as well as an overall PeerIndex score, topical PI scores are allocated based on category, making it easier to pinpoint people with authority in a particular subject. This could be quite powerful because targetting the right audience is crucial to seeing ROI from your social media outreach activities – after all touting a sports related product or experience to someone who is influential in beauty or fashion will not be relevant to them or their audience and will not be talked about.
These are all free tools but there are many more out there, including some more powerful but not so-free options, and they are all offering different features. My thoughts are that you should trial a couple of different tools and find what works best for you. Most importantly, remember that popularity does not always equal influence. Use influence scores as a starting point and back them up with your own research into who is an authority in your industry, who your online advocates are and how they interact with their friends and followers. Building solid and personalised relationships with customers will always result in greater returns for both you and your customers.
Are you using any social influence measurement tools? If not why not?