More Than Just a Klout Score: How Marketers Can Detangle the Power of Influence

A staggering 50 million photos and videos are shared through Snapchat each day and 40 million photos are uploaded to Instagram in the same 24-hour period. Every day, Twitter averages 500 million tweets. Pinterest averages 1,090 visits per minute–that's 18 visits a second! Considering these statistics, how can marketers get their messages out to the right audiences? How can your company compete for the sliver of attention that your potential customers, dealers, distributors or other targets have to give?

"Sometimes, if you want to change a man's mind, you have to change the mind of the man next to him first." - Megan Whalen Turner, The King of Attolia

Influence Case Study #1: Disney's Movie Marketing

Influential Princess

Who gets excited about animated princess movies? Disney knew the answer to this conundrum: leverage the power of online influence. In 2011, for the launch of Tangled, its Rapunzel-starring animated flick, Disney partnered with influence measurement company, Klout. The two offered 1,200 influential parents and animated movie fans exclusive swag and an early screening of Tangled. The result? More than 400 influencers generated more than 15,000 tweets, of which 95 percent were positive. Overall, the campaign created nearly 40 million impressions. Even more valuable, Tangled clobbered Disney's previous animated feature Princess and the Frog by bringing in a $48.4 million opening weekend, compared to its royal predecessor's $24.2 million, according to Fast Company.

Some might dismiss Klout as simply a popularity gauge or even a glorified directory, but it is clear that Klout excels at connecting brands with influencers. Disney didn't need to reach all eight million parents of children 4-8 years old in the United States to achieve success – they just needed those 412 to get word of mouth buzzing.

Social networks and real-life connections make participating in authentic online conversations a requirement for today's brands and organizations. It's impossible to engage effectively with entire populations; astute marketers need to identify their advocates – the captains of the circles and the cheerleaders of their cause – and build those communities.

Influence Case Study #2: A Flixster-Like App

Flixster AppEconomists at New York University's Stern School of Business wanted to see the impact of peer influence. The researchers selected and tested random users of a film-rating application on Facebook similar to Flixster. They found that users who rated films and notified friends of the ratings (with links to download the app) were hugely influential. Over six weeks, 8,000 users sent more than 40,000 notifications to 1.3 million friends, and about 1,000 of those friends downloaded the Facebook app.

The NYU researchers discovered that the more friends who adopted the app after receiving a notification from fellow users, the greater the user's influence. They also found that a personal invitation was three times more effective in adoption than a broadcast message on the user's Facebook feed.

What's In a Number?

Klout Score

The challenge - and opportunity - for marketers is finding those influencers who will extend that prized personal invitation. According to HubSpot,  consumers are 71 percent more likely to make a purchase if it comes from a social media referral. Marketing is no longer about reaching all prospective  buyers, it's about reaching the right ones who are influential.

 At our agency, we use a mixture of online tools: Kred, Klout and TweetLevel. All have created proprietary algorithms to measure influence. Well, technically, the influence "in communities connected by interests and affiliations," "based on your ability to drive action on social networks," and "GPS for navigating influence," respectively. These services are a great way to get us started identifying the most influential advocates for our clients' products and brands, but that's not where we stop. Finding influencers is more than just assessing a number. It's not enough to just have a Klout score, Kred number or TweetLevel.

Top Influence Measurement ToolsThese numbers set the stage for more in-depth research and, ultimately, influencer identification. For example, additional human research will be required to assess whether or not an IT director with a Klout-generated score of 84 could effectively reach the target audience for a healthcare software company. Does this person have a frequently updated Twitter account? What does their LinkedIn say about their schooling? Does the IT director interact with mainly IT vendors or, even better, other IT influencers such as media, other company presidents and industry thought leaders? It's a matter of digging for the right data and then taking the time to apply it.

In sum, with the help of third party measurement tools, brands like Disney (and you) have the ability to quickly detangle the whole new world of influencers. Then, by personalizing the findings through additional research, companies can build community and buzz strategically and successfully.


Image Sources: Disney Store / Computer Dealer News / Wired 

About the Author

Deanna Boss

Deanna Boss is an agency operations manager at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.

Topics:  Social Media Marketing

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