How to Identify the Influencers

For getting customer feedback, many companies are turning their ears towards the social media conversation about their brand. Many are also listening to identify analytics of social data; they seem to be focused mostly on understanding how messages travel in the social network, which may not provide actual actionable insight. For getting actionable insights, we need to think about sparking conversations among customers about their way of creating value. Companies are recognizing the importance of the influencers for sparking such engaging conversations. We all agree that identifying and engaging passionate, influential customers leads to core competitive advantage. However, identifying the influencers is a complex topic that involves lots of misconceptions. Market research techniques and social network analysis can be helpful in identifying such influencers. Different types of influencers can play different roles in generating actionable insights among the customer network.

Recently I came across a very insightful blog by the chief scientist of Lithium Technologies, Michael Wu, which explain the influence analytics. According to the blog, the influencer's power to influence depends on two factors: i) his credibility and expertise in a specific domain of knowledge, and ii) his ability to transmit his knowledge through a social media channel. Many times, a customers has knowledge and expertise, but if he is not well connected and lacks required social equity, he can’t transmit his knowledge through social media channels to influence other customers. On the other hand, a customer with very wide connections and high social equity can not be a real influence on the decision-making behavior of other customers if he lacks credibility in the specific domain.

Most of the effort has been focus on finding influencers who are good at transmitting his knowledge through social media channel of concern. Less effort has been focused on finding influencers with high credibility in the relevant domain. It is comparatively easy to find customers with high bandwidth, because there is a lot of data available about numbers of friends or followers, viewer ship and number of tweets, messages, blogs etc. However, it is more complex to find the customers who are credible influencers. The best way to find credible influencers is to use data on what others say about them in the particular domain of interest. This can be done by exploring rating data, data about re-tweets, or blog links, recommendations etc.
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