Don Martelli, Director, Social Media Strategy
June 27th | 2011 By
Ah, social media measurement; the holy grail for those of us who are working in the space every day and have clients who continually ask the question, “well, how are we going to measure it?”
Some things in social media are cut and dry: followers, friends, likes, retweets, +1’s, +K’s, etc. Those are tangible metrics that indicate popularity of a brand, individual or content. And while these metrics are important to track, they might not help businesses move the proverbial needle.
Influence does and that’s why it matters.
Think about the last time you purchased a major item for your home. Yes, you might have conducted some basic research; checked out some reviews and watched a couple of product videos. But, you’ve also asked your friends on Facebook and engaged with your connections on Twitter. You want their opinions. Why? Because you value that relationship and trust them to help guide you in your decision.
This is the basis of why influence in social media matters and is the foundational factor in driving success of programs for brands.
The concept is better understood when it’s broken down to three key elements: brand, expertise and trust.
- Brand: The stronger the personal or business brand, the more influence one has online. The consumer or the brand reaches a mass volume of people and has the ability to influence decisions in some way.
- Expertise: While one can be an expert in a specific field, that title is bestowed on them by others. It’s not a self-proclaimed thing, similar to “social media guru.” Let others tell you your the expert. Don’t state it.
- Trust: This is where influence really comes into play. After you’ve established a brand, are known as a subject matter expert, you start to earn trust. Same goes for brands. Trust is earned over time and is a precious commodity, especially as it relates to social media.
When a company has put effort into the three buckets above, they will start to experience the influence they have over those they are targeting via social media. One and done programs, like the Old Spice Guy, are funny and gain attention but they aren’t sustainable (he’s already looking for more work). Social media programs that have a framework that’s entrenched in influence will help brands build stronger relationships with the core audience; keep programs moving with fluid and engaging ideas; and, impact the bottom line, which of course, is measurable.
So while influence is a fluffy, somewhat mythical component to social media, it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to understand it; know how to measure and analyze it with tools like SocialDash, Klout, PeerIndex, Sysomos and a slew of others; and, more important, know how to leverage it for success. This is why we advise our clients to look at influence in a holistic manner and help them understand that numbers aren’t the only thing to look at. Tools like SocialDash can help provide a snapshot, but only with deeper analysis will brands truly understand the context.