Every week there are multiple articles and posts on measuring Influence in social media. The vast majority of these focus on assessing who are the ‘Influencers’ – those analysts, pundits, micro-celebrities and visionaries whose words and actions influence others in their online communities. Influencers are an important element of your audience targeting strategy. (Here’s a great post from Todd DeFren on audiences and influencers).
Influencers are a potential social media strategy, but we should measure social media objectives to determine whether or not programs are working as planned. For that we have to turn to the other type of online influence, audience influence.
With audience influence, we want to understand what influence, if any, our social media efforts have had on audience opinions, attitudes and behaviors. Here’s a social media measurement model that shows where audience Influence fits with the other major measurement stages, Exposure, Engagement and Action.
- Exposure – to what degree have we created exposure to content and message?
- Engagement – who, how and where are people interacting/engaging with our content?
- Influence – the degree to which exposure and engagement have influenced perceptions and attitudes
- Action – as a result of the social media effort, what actions if any has the target taken?”
In the model, successful relationships with Influencers would be represented as an aspect of Engagement – i.e. Influencers have the ability to influence if and how consumers engage with brands.
To measure audience influence typically requires primary research to quantify attitudes and opinions and to assess the role, if any, social media efforts had in any attitudinal changes and subsequent behavior. Once we understand how Exposure and Engagement are impacting Influence, and whether or not Influence is motivating Action, we are well on our way to the understanding and data necessary to demonstrate the true ROI generated by social media.
In summary, determining who has influence should be part of your audience targeting strategy, determining whether or not you are creating audience influence should be part of your measurement strategy.
See it a different way?