Influencer or Celebrity?

Posted on November 11, 2008. Filed under: Business, Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , |

Paparazzi by David Shankbone

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There has been a lot of discussion recently about how to attract more followers on Twitter, how to drive more readers to your blog and how marketers can and should be reaching out to key influencers in the social media world.

As the number of Social media platforms increase and the number of Social media users increases with it, so will the numbers of people attempting to reach “influencer” status. Estimates suggest that 50% of adults in the US who are online, engage in or consume some form of Social media. 1.2 million blogs are created everyday in the US. With all of this traffic how can you spot the Influencer from the Celebrity?

Metrics have always been key in business. The need for hard numbers to prove a position is drummed into students at business school and repeated mantra-like in board rooms across the country. But what numbers really apply to “key influencers”.

If we take Twitter (no secret I am a big fan) as one example of a Social media tool and blogs as another and look at the numbers available to gauge Influence it is easy to see how numbers can be deceiving. The two main numbers that people notice on Twitter are Followers & Following. For blogs RSS subscribers would be seem a reasonable number.

I did a little research, and many thanks goes out to the writers of these blogs who either have their RSS numbers posted on their site or responded to my question asking them for their subscriber numbers, if it is has a question mark in the box its because I either couldn’t find the number or didn’t get a response before posting, no inference should be drawn from that, these folks are busy and probably get hundreds of these types of requests daily.

Influencer RSS #’s Twitter Following Twitter Followers Ratio EF
Robert Scoble ? 20,950 38,011 0.55 2.57
Chris Brogan 11,710 16,767 19,363 0.86 1.14
Darren Rowse (aka Problogger) 67,101 5,271 14,495 0.36 0.76
Heather B. Armstrong (aka Dooce) ? 60 19,069 0.003 0.00
Brian Clark (aka Copyblogger) 44,141 199 7350 0.02 0.77
Guy Kawasaki 200,000 25,244 25184 1.00 0.39
Gary Vaynerchuck ? 2,204 18,852 0.11 0.20
Steve Rubel 45,584 418 10,433 0.04 0.07
Simon Salt (aka incslinger) 5 411 438 0.93 3.61

The penultimate column in the table shows the ratio between Followers & Following. The nearer to 1, the nearer to a reciprocal relationship. As you can see the only person who makes a 1 on the table is Guy Kawasaki, he admits he uses an autofollow to follow all new followers, but note that he actually follows more people than follow him, so his number is not due only to his method of auto-following.

So these are the numbers, what can we draw from them, well as one esteemed British Prime Minister said, there are three types of lies, Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics. We can draw whatever conclusion we want from these numbers and that is the point. The blunt instrument of Social media metrics is just that, it lacks finesse and the fine edge that is needed to really assess whether a person is truly an Influencer in Social Media circles or simply a Celebrity. Of course, Celebrity brings with it an ability to Influence, we are all familiar with the “Oprah effect”.

I would argue that the better measure to be applied to Social media users is their “Engagement Factor”. What percentage of their messaging is directed at their followers specifically and what percentage is simply “broadcasting”? I reviewed the last sixty Tweets of the folks on the table above and counted how many were directed at a specific Twitter user or group of Twitter users and how many were just statements. The results as a ratio are in the EF column. An EF greater than 1 indicates that the user Tweets directly to people more often than they simply broadcast. An EF less than 1 indicates the reverse. Now of course this is just a raw number and needs some refining. It doesn’t include direct messages nor does it include quality of Tweet. If Guy Kawasaki Tweets something then there is a fairly high percentage chance that its actually worthwhile reading. I also did not distinguish between straight tweets and those containing links to sites other than the Tweeters own blog. Information sharing should definitely be a factor in the EF measurement. Using sixty tweets is hardly a representative sampling of the total number of tweets any of these folks have made, but it did provide enough data to make a start and test the theory (and I was doing it by hand!). I included my own metrics simply because I am not a superstar/A list/Celebrity blogger so I felt it might provide a reasonable benchmark.

What elements do you feel should be included in the Engagement Factor calculation?

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2 Responses to “Influencer or Celebrity?”

RSS Feed for the IncSlinger Comments RSS Feed

Engagement factor is something everyone (from small to large followings) should think about. Some key things that i take in to consideration concerning engagement factor are: the quality of the links given, the wisdom of the advice shared, the transparent interaction between community members seen, and the promotion of the great/ vilification of the gross. Everyone is a celebrity in their own small group. How you use that celebrity is more important than being a celebrity. If it just feeds your ego and is a self-perpetuating cycle then you need to ask yourself exactly what is your central cause for being.

In today’s day and age of quick communication, words of your presence- good or bad- spreads quickly. It is up to you to control the image that you put forward. People ARE talking about you especially when you arent aware of it. Put forth your best intentions and there will never be an issue.

[…] I wrote about the metrics that are often applied to determining who the “Influencers” are in Social Media and how flawed I believe those metrics to be. I also proposed a new measure – […]


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