How To Identify Social Media Influencers? (Part 1)

This was the big question that Vocus attempted to answer in 2011 with the publication of their report, “Influencing Grudge Match: Lady Gaga versus Bono! – What Makes An Influencer”. In August-September 2010, Vocus partnered with author, Brian Solis, to conduct an extensive survey of 739 marketing and communications professionals to gauge their perceptions of influencers on the social web.

Telling Survey Results

The survey questionnaire was sent around the world. 79% of respondents were from North America and 14% in Europe. Other professionals who agreed to participate in the survey were from Asia, Australia, South America, the Middle East and Africa. Among the participants: 35% were marketing managers and 28% were PR professionals and 17% were social media professionals. SEO specialists and publicists each accounted for 2% of respondents.

According to Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, all users of social media have the opportunity to stand out and be themselves as influencers in their network. This leads marketers and public relations professionals to re-evaluate the notion of influence. In his study, Brian Solis defines social media influence as “ability to cause desirable and measurable actions and outcomes”.

Five Major Trends Are Emerging

Through a series of relevant questions, the team at Vocus and Solis have identified the factors of influence on social media and the following five major trends.

1 – The influence is not popularity, but …

Nearly 90% of respondents made a clear distinction between “popularity” and “influence”. “Popularity is the expression of volume, while the influence is an expression of value” writes one respondent. 84% of respondents said that there is a correlation between the “reach” and “influence” on social media.


2 – Networks, content and amplification are the three most important factors

Amongst the most important factors of influence on social media, the results were very mixed:

  • 60% rely on the quality and focus of the network to identify influencers
  • 55% rely on the quality of content
  • 55% rely on the “capacity to create measurable outcomes” as defined Solis

In contrast, 40% rely on relationships with influencers.

3 – If content is king, then context is revealed to be the queen

Over 50% of respondents said that the only way to increase its influence on social media is to create, disseminate and share quality content. In the same vein, when asked to explain how influencers attract their “followers”, 62% say they follow one influencer for the quality of content, 51% say because it is considered an opinion leader (i.e., thought leader) and 40% say it is due to the relationship with the influencer.   The quality accounts for so much.

4 – The efficiency measures vary greatly depending on the objectives

If the quality of content remains the cornerstone of influence on social media, then there are different outlooks in terms of to how to measure it efficiency. Respondents are rather mixed: while 29% prefer “action” as the primary measure, 36% ranked it as the least popular.

5 – Executives are willing to pay for the services of influencers

Contrary to what some experts suggest to marketing agencies, 57% of executives are willing to pay for consulting services influencers in their approach to social media. CEOs and senior CMOs (both at 63%) are the most likely to hire influencers.

The ultimate question … HOW TO DEFINE  INFLUENCE in 140 characters?

The last question received no fewer than 611 responses. Based on a quick analysis of keywords, the authors noted that the words “ability” and “power” were used by 70% of respondents. The words: “action” (45%), “people” and “person” (38%) were the other keywords used most frequently by respondents. The results and customization of relationships are therefore very important.

Amongst the set of answers, authors have identified more than two dozen suggestions on how to build influence on social media.  Here are few:

  • Engage in dialogue, listen and reply to comments
  • Be relevant in your approach
  • Create original content and be interesting as an expert
  • Be unique and stand out
  • Respect the right of users to take part in the conversation
  • Build a relationship of trust
  • Be passionate about your work and have good content to share

The authors extracted 25 interesting answers in the attempt to define the concept of influence on social media in a professional context. Here are a few that can help in reevaluating our outlook:

  • Ability to lead and inspire others
  • Prompt engagement and  conversations with user
  • Build confidence that inspires others to make the best decisions

To conclude this first part, I prefer to define influence as, “the power to give confidence”.

What do you think? Share your thoughts!!!

Next Post: How To Identify Social Media Influencers? (Part  2):

The ultimate fight of web influencers: Lady Gaga vs Bono!






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Source: Paul Labelle, Photographer


Author of the books, “Culture Web à la portée des PME” and “Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0” Raymond Morin has written for several magazines over the past 10 years. Very active on social media, he has contributed to several online publications as guest blogger, including Trinity College School, Locita, and Intelegia. Raymond is a corporate trainer and is regularly invited to give lectures and training workshops to companies and organizations. In collaboration with Intelegia, and Ian Smith, Raymond is preparing for the release of a new book, “Comment devenir un influenceur dans les médias sociaux”