As long as sellers have sought buyers, it has been critical for marketers to find and nurture word-of-mouth influencers, but finding these buzz-makers has been elusive, difficult, and expensive.
But today, finding out who is influential about beer in Boston or Food in Florida is faster and cheaper than ever before thanks to social-scoring companies like Klout.
Klout handles “Big Data” from the social web to slice, dice, and dissect billions of pieces of data every day to determine influencers on a hundreds of topics across the world.
Who Can Really Determine Influence?
The service has come under criticism. Can the system be gamed? What does it really mean? And after all … who can REALLY determine our influence?
“Influence” has been one of the most studied aspects of politics, marketing, sociology, and psychology and yet it has never really been measured in a statistically valid way. Until now. People creating content is an action. Having a link clicked, or a message re-tweeted, is an effect. Finally, there is something to measure in this field. In fact there are billions of actions and effects to measure and compare every day!
It is undeniable that the ability to move an idea or opinion through an engaged online network creates influence. To the extent a company can measure content moving through this system, we would be able to quantify one sliver of influence.
Democratization of Influence
And that is historically important. This is nothing short of the democratization of influence. We no longer have to go to the “right” schools or be born into the “right” segment of society to get ahead. We all have the ability to publish and have voices heard. In my book, I explore this idea that we are now in the era of the “Citizen Influencer.”
You can imagine that companies would be all over this. Some of the biggest and brightest marketers and brands like Disney, Audi, Starbucks, and Nike have incorporated Klout influencers into their traditional marketing efforts. And this idea of finally unleashing the passion of customers is working. According to Klout, each influencer in one of their Perk programs generates an average of 30 pieces of content and millions of possible impressions.
Essentially, this is creating an entirely new marketing channel to complement traditional methods. And it’s cost-effective too. Early results from case studies show the cost per impression is as good or better than paid advertising and it is ORGANIC since it is being generated by people who already love the brands.
Creative and Profitable Use To Scores
How do you know if finding these buzz-agents will work for your business? I think one of the most eye-opening parts about the Return On Influence book are the case studies that document how these scores are being used in creative and profitable ways by large companies, agencies, non-profits, small businesses and PR firms. The ability to quickly identify influencer by region and topic opens up incredible possibilities in all these fields.
It’s certainly an interesting time. A revolutionary time. A time when we can finally begin to see a Return On Influence.