Nothing like a really dumb post to get your blood racing in the morning. I of course forwarded this ridiculous drivel abut the value of Klout to my favorite gurus on the subject. My favorite response and the one with which I totally agreed came from Bill Paarlberg, editor of The Measurement Standard : "Given my low opinion of many lawyers, I don't really mind if they spend their time on bogus measures."
But a much more thoughtful response came from Philip Sheldrake in the form a great Q & A on the topic which is a must read on the topic.
I had the opportunity to cogitate at length on this topic for my upcoming book, co-authored with Beth Kanter, Measuring the Networked Non Profit and thought I might summarize some of those thoughts here:
Rule # 1: Differentiate between measuring your own influence and the need to identify influencers in your industry or marketplace.
How to measure people who influence your ability to achieve your mission or goals
There are three key criteria for determining who is influential to you stakeholders online:
- Frequency. How often are they writing about topic
- Relevance, i.e. are they writing about topics that are relevant and interesting to your stakeholders, are they producing content that is interesting to them.
- Resonance – do stakeholders find the content interesting enough to forward, share, like or retweet?
- Trust – do people actually trust the information that those influencers are putting out there
The first step is to check the data you already have. If you’ve ever done a survey or are about to do one, see if there you can ask your stakeholders where they go for information. Or if there are any reliable sources that they turn to.
If you are already monitoring your media coverage or your social conversations, look at the last three months of coverage and identify anyone who has mentioned you or the topic you are searching for more than three times. If someone is writing about you more than once a month they probably have influence on your stakeholders.
If you don’t have any survey data and aren’t doing any monitoring at all, brainstorm within your organization on ways that people might describe the field that you are trying to influence. First check out your own Google analytics to find the words that people use to find your site You can also tool like Google Keyword finder or WordTracker to check your list.. Write down all the words that you can think of that someone you are trying to influence might look for.
Once you identified any words that are relevant, you can start to find your influencers. Set up a Google Alert if you haven’t already and have it look for the terms you come up with from your brainstorming Track the authors of the posts that show up.. If you have a budget for this effort, you might want to a find a service that allows you search for influencers by topic like Traackr or eCairn. And if you want to know more, sign up for this workshop
Measuring how influential YOU are
Determining how influential your own or your organization is in social media is perceived by many to be simply ego gratification, But there are some legitimate reason to measure your own influence level.
- You want to demonstrate to potential funders or sponsors that you are growing your voice
- Your mission is to change minds about a topic and you need to measure whether your voice is growing on that topic
- Your mission is to counter another louder voice on the opposite side
There is no shortage of tools that help you figure out your “influence” score. Most base the results entirely on your levels of activity on Twitter or Facebook, and offer little guidance on what the score means or why it makes a difference. The important thing to remember is that it isn’t about the activity, it’s about the impact.
A perfect system to measure how influential tests perceptions along with activity:
Perceptions metrics might include:
% quotes in the media?
% shift or increase in positioning in media coverage as a “leader” as opposed to a “one of the pack”
% increase in invites to guest blog or post?
% increase in speaking invitations or solicitations of papers?
% increase in stakeholder perceptions of you as a thought leader?
Activity metrics might include:
% increase in influence/impact score over time
% increase in influence/mpact score relative to the opposition
Typically the free tools out there use activity levels as a metric, calculating the number of shares or retweets you get. The tool doesn’t matter, consistentcy does. What you need to do is track your score over time to see if it is improving or declining. You should also identify a peer group of influencers against which to benchmark your results.
According to a recent study of influence conducted by Brian Solis and Vocus  90% attribute influence to the quality or focus of a network, 85% stated the quality of content was the top attribute of influence
When they asked why people followed people, it was the same story became clear. 37% followed because they post interesting content, 62% follow because of relevant content, 43% focused on the personal connection.
So if your influence isn't what you want it to by, you probably need to improve the quality of your content.