Enough with influencer lists! Let’s work on your impacter list

Nicolas Chabot
January 27, 2014
How to

Are you the same as me? Two types of content typically just invade my content stream these days: top trends and predictions, and top influencer lists.

Wait! There is another one: Number puzzles that read "99,9% of respondents have failed to answer this…" followed by a basic table that a 10 year old could resolve have recently joined that list of spam content on my LinkedIn feed. By the way, please stop guessing or sharing ;)

Coming back to lists and trends, I have to admit that we have ourselves indulged in predictions and in producing Traackr influencer lists as an easy and usually provocative way to draw attention to our technology and the concept of online influence.

However, such ranked lists are mostly nonsense! And every time I publish one, I get a kind message from Pierre Philippe Cormeraie who tells me that such lists do not properly reflect the value of our product: and he is obviously right! Making a list is not the point.

Influence rankings are wrong because the question of online influence is much more complex than that.

If – according to P Sheldrake – influence is the capacity to “change someone’s opinion or actions over something”, you have to admit that it is a tough prediction to make!Obviously the Klout and Peerdindex style abuse of the influence word have contributed to casting a shadow on the whole influence scoring theme. I even suggested in a different post that online influence might actually be a chaotic process.

However, beyond that “fuzzy” influence concept, one force cannot be ignored by brands. With the social web, select individuals can have a disproportionate impact on your brand.

A BCG Report on advocacy stated “The secret to a winning advocacy strategy is to find the right people and get them talking about the right things in the right places!”

We usually quote that 3% of people online create 90% of the impact. It might be even more concentrated. Let’s call them the “impacters”! The true insight is that the list of these individuals will be absolutely specific to each brand.

A brand needs to understand today who the individuals are who can have an impact on their business through their social media activities.

Such individuals can be prospects, recognized experts on a topic, popular individuals in a relevant community audience, superfans with an important social presence, politicians and regulators etc.

Impacters have always existed – what has changed is the sheer impact those few individuals can have through social media channels and amplification phenomenon. This means that brands also need to develop much stronger strategies and processes to manage the impact these people generate.

Impacters will be identified across a number of sources and methodology: analysing your own Facebook pages or Twitter followers, your CRM, people known by your existing PR team. Traackr will obviously play a key role also here by helping you identify potential impacters through their online activity on relevant topics and through the engagement they generate in their community of peers.

All these people will potentially impact your brand in a different way. Unique rankings will be mostly irrelevant and you will use multiple ranking methodologies based on your objectives. Individuals generating reach and awareness might not be the same as those generating leads. Monitoring the conversations generated by these impacters over time, and measuring the type of impact they each generate will be necessary to understand how they can support or threaten your strategies and will drive your engagement tactics.

Your objective will be to create the relationships within your impacters’ network, shape the conversations and eventually generate the positive impact that will help your brand. Only then will you start to understand who really has most impact for you over time.

What matters is not how individuals rank on a list. What matters is how selected individuals can help you build your brand by generating awareness and advocacy in your target audiences, generating leads and creating long term value for you.

So, should we stop producing public lists of influencers? Well, when put into context, they can deliver powerful insights on social communities. And you have to admit that they can be good fun: they are controversial and create a sense of community.

In fact we’ll probably keep producing such lists and I will probably keep receiving kind warnings from Pierre Philippe.

But don’t take them too seriously.

Because what matters to you is not the influence, it is the impact.

And that is exactly what we here to help you with.

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