We are at a wonderful tipping point in the business of influence analytics. For the first time ever, sociology and technology are colliding enabling us to identify the influence type of an individual by the patterns of their online behaviour.
Why understanding influence type is important?
In order for PR and marketing professionals to enable their message to resonate as successfully as possible they must engage with key influential people in a manner that complements them. For successful engagement, any interaction must follow three key tenants:
- Context: ensure that the topic you are discussing with the influential is relevant to them.
- Time: speak to them when they are receptive to the discussion. This could be because it is currently of interest or perhaps more significantly (and often forgotten) when they are awake!”
- Influence type: engage in the way that most close matches their behavioural characteristics.
All these points are included in the most recent major update to TweetLevel, a GPS for navigating twitter influence.
However, it is the last aspect that propels TweetLevel to a whole new dimension. TweetLevel analyses the twitter behaviour of individuals to determine their influence type and segments them into one of five classifications. Of course having an influence type in itself means nothing, it is learning from this so engagement with this individual can be as effective as possible.
What do the different categories mean?
This small collective of people are the creative brains behind many of the thoughts and ideas that other people talk about. Even though they may not necessarily have a large audience themselves, their insightful opinions often flow and are repeated throughout conversations long after they have left. They are typically well connected to other idea starters (where they collaborate on thoughts) and amplifiers (who they often rely upon to spread their views). Idea starters tend to be well connected to curators and amplifiers.
These people frequently have a large audience and following. Their expertise may be deep but often they rely upon other contacts to provide opinion to which they then let their readership know about. They often have professional or commercial motivations such as journalists or analysts but are also more often than not self-created experts and avid sharers of information. Their advantage and their burden is their huge number of followers they need to keep satisfied. This behaviour ensures that they need to receive pre-packaged content that they can easily repost, retweet or repurpose so that their audience does not diminish. Amplifiers are frequently well connected to idea starters as the source of their content.
This group though having a far smaller audience are perhaps one of the most influential groups. Long after the idea starter and amplifier have left a conversation, it is the curator that maintains discussion. This niche expert collates information about a specific topic and is frequently sought after for advice about this specific area. They often take part in discussions with idea starters and are avid readers of topic-specific amplifiers.
These people individually have little influence. Their behaviour often resembles little more than adding a comment without contributing greatly to the conversation. Their influence should not be ignored but should instead be viewed as a collective to measure the trend of opinion around a subject. An interesting factor is that this group are often self-moderating – when negative comments are posted often these contributors will often intervene to correct inaccuracies or a unfounded negative views.
In the conversation this invisible group who we call viewers don’t leave a foot print except through Google. Indeed it is through Google, and the impact of viewers on search results, that these other groups become influential and evolve their role within a conversation. Authority rests with the search patterns of those who simply observe in a democratic world.
With a constant pressure on PR and marketing professionals to deliver great success with limited time and budget, ensuring that any engagement that occurs is targeted and effective is critical.
Jonny Bentwood is global head of analyst and influential engagement.