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Using Data

A Better Way To Find Influencers

By May 19, 2010 2 Comments
Visualization of the Influence Landscape
Image by marketingfacts via Flickr

Let me start by saying that the word “influencer” has become a bit of a Holy Grail in social media speak. I don’t necessarily agree with how it is often used. Thus, the mere fact that I put the word influencer in the title of this post shows that my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

All kidding aside, I tend to think that there is a difference between somebody with a large audience, and somebody with a large audience of people with small to large audiences of their own. In other words, I’m far more interested in visualizing how news spreads among networks of people on-line, than I am in just finding the large nodes.

It’s kind of like the difference between velocity and acceleration, in my mind. Both are great things to know, but acceleration is definitely more exciting than velocity.

The Better Process

I had another demo with Social Radar this week that has led me to believe that I can map out on-line networks of people around the keywords that I care about. And it doesn’t start with monitoring the entire internets. The technique that we used, and are experimenting with is:

site descriptions and tags Searching all the content on-line returns a lot of SPAM. Social Radar has a function that crawls site descriptions and tags, and it seemed to drastically reduce the amount of SPAM returned.

start broad We used a broad keyword, health, and that returned 14,000 sites… which was around the number I had in my mind. Between 10,000 and 20,000 sites just seems right to me for now.

then search specific Once we had our list of “trusted” sites on health, we could query them with specific search terms, like exergaming and healthy games. Low and behold, the results that were returned were all quality and social radar provides a visualization of the sites that are linked to one another.

now make friends So the connected sites around your keywords have been identified, now it’s just a matter of importing them into your reader and following the bloggers on Twitter to find the ones that you can actually start building relationships with on-line.

Ready For Action

This is the theory I’ve been working on for the last month, and now that I’ve figured out how to do it in a semi-automated way I’m really excited to get going with it. I’m convinced that the way for organizations to spread information on-line in the future, is for their individual employees to connect with other individuals on-line who have the desire and ability to help spread messages.

The process I outlined above helps the organization identify the right people to try to connect with upfront, with the understanding that there is not yet a science to building real and lasting relationships with people. I’m also assuming that the organization truly wants to build relationships with these people for mutual benefit, as opposed to only being out to make a buck.

A Word On Ben

I think that it’s necessary to give a shout out to Ben Hagedorn for being a great salesman throughout this process. I started out by digging through Kevin Palmer’s extensive list of monitoring tools, to get to six that looked like they could help me find networked influencers. From that list I reached out to three companies, Infegy being one of them…

Two things that stood out about Ben were that:

A. Ben actually looked at my LinkedIn profile before our first call. That is such an easy thing to do, and nobody does it when they’re trying to sell me something. It made an impression.

B. Ben never gave up on the sale. I told him point blank last week that I didn’t think his tool had it. But because we’d been working together on my needs (he knew that I was blogging about them and actually followed along at home) he went back to his development team and found a feature that is currently hardly used, but that COMPLETELY SOLVED MY PROBLEM!

He then demoed it to me, and we walked through a couple scenarios and I was sold. Talk about going the extra mile to make the sale. Kudos, Ben… Now we just have to get through the contracting process on our end and we’re home free. 😉


  • benjaminhagedorn says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, I enjoyed our work together because it gave me a better understanding of what people are looking for. I'm really excited to continue together and push the limits of current technology.

    Talk soon.

  • marksysomos says:


    Our Heartbeat (monitoring) and MAP (analytics) social media services both feature the ability to identify and engage with key influencers. Our technology defines “key influencers” using a variety of metrics as opposed to a single variable. Let me know if you'd like a demo.

    cheers, Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.