Beyond Social Scoring – The Situational Factor of Influence

Influence marketing

If you thought influence marketing was a hot topic at the moment for marketers and brands, it’s only just beginning to really take shape.

While much of the conversation both here on this blog and across various networks has concentrated on where social influence is today, this is a just the prelude to where influence marketing will be tomorrow and beyond.

In the next few weeks, our book will be released and we’re excited to share the concepts and methodologies that we’ve come up with in both our research for the book as well as real-life case studies we’re documenting with our clients, using our framework.

Our goal with the book is simple – while early movers in the social influence space have provided a starting point for brands to understand this tactic, the real business value requires actions and solutions that go deeper than a score and an “influencer” based on amplification and popularity.

Additionally, online influence is just one component of a very large picture, and only paints a small part of that same picture. Let’s talk about that a little more today.

Decisions Based on Limited Information

Social influence data as it stands today is based primarily on one core metric: public social profiles and footprints. So if you have your Twitter account set to public, then companies like Klout and Kred will create you a “profile” and allocate you a score, based on their algorithm.

If you sign up and connect your other accounts, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, the score will change, since these companies now have more information about you. So far, so good.

The problem comes when the accounts aren’t set to public, or you have different privacy settings for different accounts. So, Twitter and Google+ may be public, but Facebook may be primarily for friends, so your sharing method on that network is very different.

But let’s say it’s these private conversations where the decisions on the majority of the choices you make are made, when it comes to making a purchase.

These choices are the ones that are defining the influence factor at that time:

  • Is it situational, where your current situation (financial, need for a product or service, etc) comes into play?
  • Is it emotional, where the desire for something outweighs the logic of not actually needing it?
  • Is it personal, where your partner/wife/husband puts the foot down and says no?

These are three simple factors that can’t be measured directly – and yet they have a direct impact on you as a person, because they influence your decision.

Because this process isn’t measured by public scoring algorithms, it can lead to distortion of data when measuring a brand influencer program.

You may have initially shown positive signs of interest in a new product launch, as featured on an influential blog, and that would go down as a success metric. But the truth is, the real influence was exerted when the situation came into play in your private conversation(s).

It’s this missed data that (currently) limits the reporting metrics on some of today’s platforms.

The Offline Influence Equation

Another part of this equation is the fact that most influence platforms don’t take into account what happens offline – they simply measure online noise and conversations.

While this approach still allows for a lot of data to be collated about someone and their influence, as well as who and what influences them in return, it’s still only half the big picture.

As Pierre-Loic Assayag mentioned when we interviewed him about the approach his Traackr platform takes, imagine trying to decide a large bank loan with only half the financial information about a person available to you – you just wouldn’t make that call.

In fairness, this limitation is being recognized by the influence platform developers. Kred, for example, allows you to upload your offline achievements (although they don’t validate them so you could still upload false information), while Appinions measures reactions and opinions from traditional media as well as online publications.

However, as much as we try and measure how offline decisions impact measurable public conversations online, there’s still the question of what truly impacted the decision to take an action or decide to pass at this moment in time?

To get to that stage, we need to move beyond just public personas when it comes to influence, and begin to look at the macro and micro influencer level, and where they sit in the influence circle around each of us.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be doing just that. We look forward to sharing with you.

A version of this post originally appeared on the official Influence Marketing blog.

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