Influencers That Matter
There has been a lot of discussion lately about measuring influence online, and influence scores from services like Klout, PeerIndex and others.
One recent book, Return On Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing (Zowee, what a title!) provides details on how influence may be leveraged effectively by marketers, “this eye-opening, action-ready guide shows you how to reach the superconnectors who ignite epidemics through word-of-mouth influence . . . and become one yourself”
For example, if I were to introduce you to “Bob” at a party and say, “Bob is highly influential in music” you’ll want to know what kind of music?, what are they into right now? and do they like my music?. That’s right, “highly influential in music” has little context.
So what does all this mean to an artist who’s grappling with social media tools and trying to effectively build meaningful relationships with fans?
Influence scores may be useful in a high-level strategic way, but they are only a first step and they don’t necessarily identify fans. Artists still need to focus on:
- Building experiences for small, connected communities of fans
- Creating a strategy around multiple, lightweight interactions with fans
Self-Identity and Social Identity (Fan vs Influencer)
A relevant whitepaper, ‘The Influence of Personality on Active and Passive Use of Social Networking Sites’, had an interesting insight on these issues.
Basically, people can express themselves online in two ways, through “self-identity expressiveness” and “social identity expressiveness” (Thorbjørnsen, Pedersen, & Nysveen, 2007).
Self-identity expressiveness is said to indicate how and to what extent users of social networking sites display their own identities and values.
Specifically, any actions that are taken just for the benefit of themselves, for example:
- listen to a song
- watching a video
- read a album review
They do so because they want to, and enjoy it. They are not explicitly communicating to others within the community what they should do, though they may still be a trusted filter.
Social identity expressiveness is said to indicate the ability to communicate verbally and skillfully when engaging others in social interaction. Examples could be:
- Check out this album – it’s awesome
- You have to get tickets to this gig on Friday
These actions are taken explicitly to encourage the behavior of others.
What I think is interesting about social-identity actions is that they can cross many social spheres & different groups (friends, schoolmates, co-workers and family), so their expressions may not necessarily reflect that person’s identity or values. They may actually be saying what they feel is ‘appropriate’ for that group, or just not express themselves at all – think peer pressure.
So, while self-identity can reflect what fans actually do, social-identity expressiveness is what many influence scores are currently measured by.
Strong Communities with many lightweight interactions
General influence scores in the context of “music” may give you some insight, but you also need ‘affinity’ for your music as well. The most important context is you and your music.
If a fan is a trusted filter on Rdio or Youtube, you need to know that just as much as you need to know if they are effective on Facebook, perhaps even more so. Their friends & followers are in turn watching this trusted filter and checking out what they like.
Identifying and interacting with these fans is key.
Build a community. Its important that you get to identify and choose what actions across these networks are important. What actions do you want to recognize, and what weight do you want to give them. Every community is different, so again how can generic high level influence score give you everything you need?
Interact with this community. React to actions taken by fans and recognize those actions directly. For example, a simple ‘thank you’ message, a couple free passes to a show or however you feel is appropriate.
Define your own influencers within a community that belongs to you and your fans.