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How to find social media influencers

14th October 2013

The PR industry needs to engage with social media influencers. Nearly one in four people worldwide will use social networks in 2013, and by 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion, according to eMarketer report, “Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates”. Danny Whatmough, associate director of digital at Ketchum PR reiterates the importance of influencers in today’s market: “There’s now powerful data that allows PR professionals to identify exactly who you should be targeting from an influencer standpoint. We can track an individual’s reach, resonance and relevancy across channels to piece together a 360-degree view of influence”. Nicolas Chabot, Vice President of influencer marketing platform, Traackr repeats how vital influencers in PR campaigns can be: “Influencers are important for PR. PR is going beyond just media relations and influencer relationships are becoming increasingly important for marketing. PR knows how to create and manage relationships with people so they are in a good position to provide brands with a very good service, but if they want to gear up they need to have data driven and analytical approaches”. There is a number of platforms that rank and help you find these influencers such as PeerIndex, Traackr and Klout. Aleem Iqbal, business development manager at influencer marketing platform, PeerIndex explains how they measure an influencer: “The PeerIndex algorithm recognises the speed and quantity by which users create, spot, share (and thus endorse) content on any specific topic within a certain context – such as a specific community, age group and geographic location. We also believe that the type of information users share reveals a lot about who they are, whom they know, and what they know.” A term that is used widely in this subject is ‘scoring’, which defines how influential someone is using a number of variables, which then gives them an overall score. But, Nicolas Chabot explains his dislike for this method: “Justin Bieber has the highest score. What does that mean? It doesn't mean much. At Traackr we use a different approach, first we assess someone’s authority on a specific topic using reach, resonance and relevance, while measuring their importance to the topic. We also look at their network connection. How these people connect and engage within a community”. Nicolas justifies Traackrs method adding: “When you search on Google you don’t always get the most popular page first. You get what is relevant to your key word”. Aleem also dislikes ‘scoring’ stating: “It is important to keep in mind that influence is not useful in a single score and does not exist in a vacuum”. While Danny Whatmough, Ketchum PR, adds that he would never trust a score on its own. One of the key points when it comes to influencers, is that it is all contextual. For instance, Justin Bieber has a huge following on Twitter, however, he would not be influential when it comes to a subject such as computing or crafts. It is also wise to note that although social media is global, influencers tend to be more localised. Danny Whatmough says: “Generally speaking, you need to think regionally when identifying influence. While you can certainly find influencers with ‘global’ reach, you’ll find that level of influence will often vary considerably”. This may be caused by a language barrier – something that is likely to be an issue when it comes to communicating with a global audience. Nicolas elaborates: “There is a lot of communication between the UK and the US, but in France, Germany and Spain they are much more engaged with content that is in their local language. So, in theory it is global, and you do have some influencers that can cross borders. But, the majority remains local, because people build relationships more easily with others that share their life and values”. However, perhaps the most important question to ask is how accurate can these methods be? For instance, can they measure every single social media user? Nicolas Chabot explains: “We can track anyone that builds content for the web. However, there is very few people that produce content for the web and have an impact, so although we can find anyone that is relevant, the actual number of people that can be called an influencer on a topic is very concentrated”. “Influence is extremely complex and it is impossible to predict. What we try to do at Traackr is provide a transparent and meaningful measurement of the position of people in your community and who would be most useful to you in what you are trying to achieve”. Danny Whatmough adds: “Accuracy really depends on what you are looking to achieve”. Nevertheless, influencers can still be hugely beneficial within public relations and if used well, can affect the outcome of a campaign massively. Ketchum PR’s, Danny Whatmough reiterates this: “Using data to support influencer campaigns is absolutely fundamental to modern PR. There’s just no excuse not to use this as part of campaign planning and execution”.

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