Take a look through your Twitter or Facebook streams. Are your friends talking about the products and brands they are using? Chances are, yes, they are. How about you? Have you ever asked one of your social media peers to advise you on whether a new restaurant down the road is worth trying or not? Have you ever steered someone toward one specific product or service and away from another?
This is influence!
Influence, on social media, is the ability to change how others think and act. Often people think the definitive characteristic of an online influencer is how many Facebook fans and Twitter followers that person has. That’s not technically accurate. It does not matter if you run a blog where you post content everyday about a specific subject. Influence is measured by a person’s ability to drive others to change their opinion and take actions.
So in truth, anyone has the potential to influence another. Influencers are not necessarily people with the most arbitrarily awarded +K on Klout. The challenge therefore is to find the right influencers to engage. Some people have enough pull to drive a spike in web traffic and sales with a single status update.
The point is: As a brand marketer, it’s important to understand that influence can come in several shapes and sizes. Sometimes influence is predictable. Some industry influencers have an established reputation that spreads far and wide. Other times, an algorithmic tool such as Klout or PeerIndex can help you find potential influencers who can sway others on a specific topic. This is of course not a surefire method but only a tool you can use for some help.
Connecting with Your Industry’s Social Media Influencers is a Multi-step Process!
1. Identifying Influencers
When researching your industry social media influencers, the most important consideration is that any influencer outreach should support your existing business goals. You can’t get started without knowing exactly what you want to achieve. Your objective may include one or more of the following:
1. Demonstrate credibility and thought leadership
2. Generate inbound traffic
3. Enhance your business visibility through content creation
4. Build customer relationships
5. Move community members through the purchase funnel
6. Test new products and generate honest feedback
To find influencers who align with your business goals,
- Keep an ear out for conversations happening in your industry’s community, sweeping the social web to find conversations that matter to you
- Search the communities you found above to identify who is sharing content and who is most active there
- Dig deeper into these influencers by checking up on them on LinkedIn and/or Twitter.
- With a good list of potential influencers, you can now narrow down on 10 or 20 so the number remains manageable. This may require further detailed information about your influencers or you can look at Klout for their influential topics and ensure they are relevant.
Before making a purchase decision, people read reviews, feedback, testimonials or opinions on the web. If the reviews are positive, there is a greater probability of purchase. However, if the reviews are negative, people are likely to move on to something else. Therefore, positive opinions or reviews play crucial role in financial gains of individuals, organizations, and businesses. But, unfortunately, this leads to shady practices, like the posting of fake reviews, or opinion spamming.
The term opinion spamming refers to unethical activities such as posing fake reviews that mislead the consumers, for example: writing good things about a product that doesn’t merit the glowing review. Fake reviews also come in the form of negative opinions about competing products and businesses. This damages the reputation of the competition. It becomes obvious why detecting fake reviews is critical for both the consumer, and a business.
Detection or identification of fake reviews or opinion spamming involves the use of relational modeling, graph-based methods, pattern discovery, and supervised learning. Some of the signals that can be used include:
- Relationships: The complexity of relationships that exists among the entities (products, stores, etc), reviews, and reviewers
- Product related features: Some of the features that could be considered include sales rank, sales volume, and product description
- Reviewer abnormal behaviors: The public data that is available from online sites, like first reviewers of the product, frequency of posting, time of posting, reviewer id, etc. In addition to these features, the opinion spamming detection algorithm can also discover uncommon characteristics of these fake reviews. Another indicator of abnormal behaviors is the private/internal data of websites such as the reviewer’s physical location, time taken to post each review, IP or MAC addresses, etc
- Review Content: Some of the important detecting features include lexical features like parts-of-speech, grammar, words and grammar, or other lexical attributes. Style or content similarity of reviews obtained from different reviewers can also indicate opinion spamming. Semantic inconsistency is another feature that can be used for detecting fake reviews.
In addition to the above, you can also avoid fake reviews by avoiding fake accounts that exist on social media.
This is done by checking for the blue verified tick prior to liking or following a business’s, celebrity’s or brand’s social media profile or page. Both Twitter and Facebook now feature the blue verified tick. The blue tick badge that appears next to the profile name shows that the profile or page has been verified. Therefore, you must understand that a profile or page of any business or individual having lots of followers, likes, or positive comments, does not necessarily indicate its validity or genuineness.
Vine, a video app, also features a verified tick. If the Twitter account of the business or the individual is verified, then the Vine account will be automatically verified. However, another renowned social media network, Instagram, doesn’t feature verified badges. If you are in doubt, you must check the account’s official website. Genuine Instagram accounts always show links to business’s official website.