All Influencers Are Not Created Equal


To effectively measure source influence, it is essential to understand the ratio of influencers to followers on an individual social channel. Large followings do not always equate engagement.

Businesses should measure how many reactions influencers receive when sharing brand messages as a percentage of their overall followers. An online channel that engages with an influencer is far more important than a large number of passive followers.

Developing an understanding of how effective influencers are on social channels at driving value for a business is critical in an era where reputations can be elevated or eviscerated by a single trending thread. Understanding what any of that means for a business requires an understanding of the social platform environment, the evolution of “buzz agents” and their role as brand ambassadors, and how to weight and evaluate the enormous amount of data generated daily.

Word-of-mouth influence is well established as the most effective marketing referral method. Social media has altered and amplified this and weighing its impact is something that private equity firms largely dismiss or consider marginally when examining the health of their portfolio companies or potential acquisitions.

My experience has been that the reliance on singular tools, like Klout, to measure social media influence provides a limited view for companies and their investors. Any one tool will fail to grasp rising social networks. Now well-established channels, Snapchat and Pinterest, were slow to be monitored in their early years by tools that businesses believed to be accurate in proving their “online credibility.” This left brands unaware of how those channels were affecting the voice of their customer.

Understanding a company’s Source Influence Score (SIS) addresses this shortfall. The SIS measures the value and trust of a message being sent by a brand to an audience. It helps to identify channels where influencer engagement exists and where the brand messages will be best received.

Channel communication plays an important role in any business to inform and influence behaviors. Companies can gain a competitive advantage in a market by selecting effective channel sources to communicate their brands, products or services to end users.

For private equity, this represents both actionable intelligence for how and where to monitor, advance, or protect a portfolio company’s brand, but also the ability to evaluate if current or planned investments in brand development, competitive marketing, marketplace positioning, etc. are worthwhile.

The influx of spending on community channels represents an awareness that customers (both B2B and B2C) are active on these platforms, but not necessarily an understanding of what ROI is being extracted and if it is being done with the greatest efficiency and impact.

When you know who is carrying the message, you can know its value, its relevance, and its potential for impacting your company’s bottom line.