Today, the average consumer can elevate themselves as experts in a specific domain or topic and wield the same booming megaphone once reserved for large news networks. These influencers exert immense control over brands, public causes and corporate reputations. More importantly, influencers can quickly harness the power of social media platforms to disseminate messages to millions of followers, potentially impacting a brand or key issue. As a result, brands and organizations must incorporate these individuals within their communications strategies — yet identifying the voices that truly matter can be challenging process.

Zignal Labs has worked with some of the world’s largest brands, agencies and public affairs firms to help them identify the top influencers in their space and effectively monitor their social footprint. From this experience, Zignal has developed a three-step model that leverages data-driven insights from its media intelligence platforms to uncover hyper-specific lists of influencers around key topics related to a brand or issue. In this blog, we will break down the important first step of defining your “influencer universe.”

This formative first step identifies key influencers who have mentioned of your brand or related issue. Using industry standard Boolean keyword search terms, enterprises can filter the entire universe of media data to show only mentions focused around what they want to see. This could be related to their brand name or a pertinent issue. This way, the metadata from this information can be used to show who has been driving these mentions and when the traffic occurs.  For example, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and Time were the top influencers to mention General Mills over the past six months.


Volume vs Influence

Metadata associated with social media posts provides additional context. The extra information shows who sent the message, as well as where and when and where they sent it from. When all this data is enriched, the keywords from the messages can be extracted, as well as the sentiment of the message. The metadata can show the drivers of the conversation through two lenses: mentions and influence. Both serve a purpose, yet each reflect very different aspects around the brand.
Most mentions drive baseline traffic and generally come from the same vocal users who tweet about everything that happens about the company. These individuals tend to not have a large following, yet are often the origin for much larger stories. A larger influencer will jump on information from one of these high-volume individuals and elevate the story to the attention of a larger audience. These bigger influencers will post less frequently about a specific topic, but their message reaches a far larger audience.

High Volume

Bigger influencers use the daily chatter created by the high mention count to determine what the important stories are around the brand. News used to flow and escalate in a four-part sequence:

1.)   local TV –> 2.) local news –> 3.) national TV –> 4.) national news

Today’s online influencers act in a similar way. The local reporters now consist of Twitter accounts with small followings that post frequently. Their stories get picked up by larger influencers. The ubiquity and veracity of online media just means that stories now rise to national prominence much faster and can come from anywhere. This trend places greater emphasis on crisis communications teams to find these stories even faster than before.

High Influence

News outlets like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are some of the biggest influencers around. No matter what the measurement – Klout or some proprietary metric –  these publications all have the highest possible score. Because of this influence, prominent news outlets tend to appear as the top influencers of a brand over an extended period, even if there is only one mention.

Recognizing brand exposure on a large of scale is important. A feature in one of these publication can be the pinnacle of a successful marketing or PR campaign — or the pinnacle of a crisis. That said, it’s more important to know the chain of events that led up to these big influencers picking up the story. Next week, we will cover how to identify the influencers that bring stories to the attention of these big publications.

To learn more, click here to download our eBook “Identifying the Influencers that Matter: A Data Driven Guide to Building Trust in your Brand or Cause