In part 1 of this series I posted about the core quality that I think serves as the foundation for someone to become an “influencer” – namely trust within their community.
The next logical step is figuring out the best way to track these folks down. Every community has talkers, movers and shakers that drive conversation and motivate others in the community to take action. Go find ’em!
Start by developing a basic excel or shared database to tier out primary and secondary influencers that includes: Name, Company/Position, Email, Notes and a last section to track correspondence with the individual.
It’s true, most influencers have a large online network and are active in engaging with their specific community in some type of social space. The important thing to note is that influencers will pop up in a variety of locations. There is no hard and fast way to track down every influencer you’d like to discover through one giant “Web Influencer” tool.
With this in mind, you should cover your bases by first examining the mainstay platforms where engagement is likely to occur by running keyword searches around your topic/issue/product on the following (NOTE – there are paid services such as Radian 6 that supply these services, but as a rogue, low-budget or baseline approach, I offer the following suggestions):
1. Google Search/Alerts – Yup, start here and dig 5 pages deep with your initial searches and use comprehensive alerts to track and trend who is driving conversation over the long haul.
2. Facebook – Scour searches around groups/pages/post searches to gauge who is actively heading up conversations.
3. Twitter – Look at reach (followers), engagement (replies, retweets), authority (people retweeting, sharing). Luckily there are some great tools out there to assist with this type of data including the following:
Klout – Another Twitter influence tracking tool but provides a very simple, graphical layout that makes it easy to get a snapshot overview of a particular user.
4. YouTube – Who is responsible for posting videos that are receiving decent views/comments, running relevant channels or managing particular groups?
5. Blogs – Influencers like to talk, connect and build relationships with readers. Alongside the use of Google blog search and Technorati, consider using Hubspot’s Blog Grader or a similar tool to begin building a solid analysis. Of course look to the frequency of posts, comments, retweets and other sharing taking place (Digg, Delicious, etc.) as benchmarks of authority.
6. Ning / Existing communities – There may be some existing active niche communities that are relevant to your goals. Don’t forget to check Ning as well as any additional existing active communities. For example, in my past work with Donate Life Illinois, it was important to remain engaged and build relationships (with the community manager and community members) on www.TransplantCafe.com.
7. Aggregate Social Search – As I mentioned, I still feel it is important to drill deep on each of the tools mentioned above but it also doesn’t hurt to use www.SocialMention.com or a similar tool for an aggregate keyword search.
Last, don’t forget to…
Hop Offline – Online is of course a quick, fast research resource but that doesn’t mean every influencer is hanging out online. I last posted about Jonny Imerman as an influencer in the cancer community. The man is on the go all the time and you’re much more likely to make a solid connection with him in person where he can put a face to your name. Take advantage of networking at key industry or community events to meet the “go to” connectors.
Specific tactics aside, as a general base of knowledge, I’d also recommend giving Razorfish’s Social Influence Marketing Report a good read. It’s long, but there is a wealth of good information and data compiled in there.
Feel free to share your ideas and any resources and tools below that you’ve used to identify influencers.
Next Up…The Art of Influence Part 3 – Connecting With Influencers…