How do you measure influence on social media? Is it the total number of followers that an influencer has across all of their social channels? Do they have to be verified? Is there a standard engagement rate required that determines true influence?
The truth is that these are all right questions to ask but there is no right answer. Everyone measures influence differently. Some are more sophisticated than others, but there’s no standard on measuring influence because influence itself is subjective.
But that will change. It has to change.
Influencer marketing continues to grow even in 2021. In fact, 68% of marketers in the U.S. will use influencer marketing in some way by the end of this year. The ability to identify and measure influence will be critical to that growth.
Here’s a video where I discuss the 1:9:90 influencer model which is a smart way to segment influencers within a particular market or topic area.
There’s a common framework used by marketers to measure influence. It’s based on three unique data points–reach, resonance and relevance. I have added an additional variable which I call reference.
Reach: What is the influencer’s true audience size?
From my perspective, reach is that one data point very similar to impressions. It’s not a real metric when you isolate it from other variables. It does have power though when used within the context of a larger influencer algorithms that measure influence.
To make it as simple as possible, reach can be calculated as the total sum of an influencer’s followers on social media. This includes the following:
- Twitter Followers
- LinkedIn Connections & Followers
- Facebook & Instagram Connections
- YouTube Subscribers
- RSS subscribers
At the end of the day, it’s just a number. I refer to it more as the “potential audience size” when talking about measuring influence on social media.
Relevance: What is the topical relevance of the content?
This type of influencer measurement can only be used when identifying topical influencers.
Relevance can mean so many different things to so many different people. What’s relevant to you may not necessarily be relevant to me. In this context, and when talking about how to measure influence, relevance is also just a number. It counts the mentions of keywords and phrases used about a specific topic.
I also want to add that the relevance metrics is kind of incomplete without analyzing the resonance of that content created and/or shared by the influencer.
Resonance: Does the audience engage with the content?
This is an authority metric. It goes hand in hand with relevance and measuring topical-based influencers. The best way to illustrate measuring influence is to give you an example.
Let’ say you are looking for Clubhouse Influencers. You certainly want to ensure that they have a decent following on the platform. That’s a given. You’ll also want to see how often they are talking about Clubhouse, the rooms they moderate or participate in or mentions of social audio platforms in general. The more they talk about, the more relevant they are, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have authority on the topic.
The way to identify if they have authority is by looking at resonance. Resonance answers the question, “Does his/her topical-based content resonate with their audiences?” Resonance is an engagement metric. It’s a like, comment, share, retweet, etc. It’s not looking at their engagement numbers in totality. It’s only calculating the data based on the content published about the topic.
Reference: Do people even know who they are?
Reference isn’t an easy metric to attain. But it does validate if the influencer is being “referenced” by a 3rd party. That 3rd party can be anything or anyone that’s important to your business. It could be other influencers, analyst reports, the Google search results or a specific audience.
I work a lot with B2B influencer programs. We identify influencer using a variety of different methods. This reference metric is one we like to use often. Here’s what we do:
- We build an audience first (e.g., IT decision makers, C-suite)
- We perform an affinity analysis and identify individuals that a high percentage of the audience follows.
- We track their conversation to see how often the audience mentions or engages with the influencer This data can be found by performing a conversation analysis.
There are a lot of different ways to measure influence on social media. The key is to do something. Find a metric you can use so that you can make smart decisions.