Finding who is influential is crucial for promotion in any content publishing strategy. There are many ways to figure out who is influential and who is not, the trick is not to rely on one source but to steep yourself in the niche and those who are influential will become self-evident.
It is important when you set about creating content that you know and understand the audience which the content should be for. Rather than producing broad content that tries to please as many people as possible, it is more effective to focus on a specific group of people. Even targeting just one person if that person is influential enough to promote your message or have the ability to give you a powerful link.
A journalist, or other media person is a good example of the type of singular people you could target. Other types are power bloggers which have huge followings and have a tribe which follows them. Individual tribes within a niche will have their leaders and they may represent opposing tribes within the nice. The SEO world is a good example of this as there are a variety of systems and strategies, which leads to great debates but can often confuse the person new to the world. This aspect is useful to the content creator and leads us to our first theme.
Influence the Influencers
There are key influencers in almost any industry, and the internet is where you will find the major players. The potential for links from stroking these egos is simply huge.
The most influential bloggers will have thousands of followers, and if you can get any one of them to notice you, then your egobait will not only put you on their radar, it will get you an initial boost via a link or social media mention.
It’s very easy to find people who are worth creating content which appeals to a specific group. If you know your niche then you should have a very good idea of who are influential.
However, some people have to do specific projects in areas that they are not familiar with. It’s quite easy these days to isolate those who are influential and in a way it’s self-evident who is influential because if you have not heard of them, then they cannot be that influential.
Spend any time in a niche and you can soon see who the influencers are. Quick ways to identify influencers are:
- Is the person cited by multiple blog posts?
- Do they have a regular, popular podcast?
- Have they published a book that is cited on other bloggers lists?
- Do they speak at multiple conferences?
- Do they have a high number of followers to people they follow on Twitter?
- Do their blog posts garner comments?
- Do other people engage with them on Twitter and other social media?
- Do they head any industry bodies?
Is the Person Cited by Multiple Blog Posts?
As Oscar Wilde once said, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about.”
To have influence, people first must know who you are and then must talk about you. This does not always have to be positive, many people take to social media to mention someone they dislike and then be influenced by them. It’s a fact that some people’s intent is to be talked about, underlines this method. Such controversial figures win when you talk about them, and will even link to them which of course is a win for the influencer.
Some people deliberately make statements specifically designed to get links and social signals, even though it may be that the majority of the people talking about them don’t even like them. This is because people find it irresistible not to talk about such characters.
Obviously positive people get mentioned too, particularly in smallish, business niches like SEO and social media. But don’t make the mistake that people only get cited because the author thinks they are cool or “nice”. They get a mention because the author deems it worthy that they have a mention.
Do They Have a Regular Podcast?
There are of course many influential people who do not have a podcast, but very few people who have a regular, long term podcast who are not influential. Therefore, this is a highly effective way to quickly identify those who are influential in a niche.
A podcast takes time, effort and confidence to produce. The bar to entry is incredibly high. I would also include regular video broadcasts in this too, let us not get too hung up on terminology and focus on the fact they are producing audio/video content.
Have They Published a Book That Is Cited on Other Bloggers Lists?
It is incredibly easy to publish a book these days, even I have been able to do it. But unless you can create a train of thought which lasts for more than 10k words it’s going to be tricky. Again, not everyone who has a book published is influential, but if they have it’s another tick in the box, and Amazon makes it very easy to find out how many books the author is currently selling by looking at the “Amazon Bestsellers Rank”, which has its own algo. Any book over 500k is really not doing very well. Likewise if the book is at 10k, then lost of people are buying.
Another good place to track an authors influence is Goodreads.com, where you can easily find if the author has genuine followers.
Do They Speak at Multiple Conferences
It’s actually not that hard to speak at industry conferences. I have spoken at several, but you do have to have some recognition or following to be considered. Someone with no blog, no social media presence or no other perceivable fame is going to be considered. Therefore you can be confident that if they are speaking at a conference then they are at least worth checking out.
If they are speaking at multiple conferences throughout the year then this raises other signals worth investigating.
One thing worth doing when you know someone is speaking at that very moment is to track mentions of them on Twitter. Most people these days sit in a conference with a smartphone, tapping away on twitter, making comments about the speaker’s performance. If there is a lot of chatter, then they have more influence than if there is nothing. Of course the chatter can be negative, but at least they deem the person of interest enough to be talked about. And if someone is live Periscoping a conference talk then this indicates even higher influence. Note, this does not count if the individual works for the speaker.
Do They Have a High Number of Followers to People They Follow on Twitter?
Most people look at someone who has 200k twitter followers and think, “Wowsers, this person is very influential”. But then if you note that they are following 200k people then doubts begin to creep in. Whilst someone who has 10k followers and is only following 500 people, could be deemed as being more influential, as the tried and tested technique of getting people to follow you by following them back has been much abused over the years.
This is not to say that a 200k/200k follower, followed ratio means that the person is not influential. But it does raise a flag that requires further investigation and raises the issue of potential sock puppet account created for the explicit reason to boost numbers. There are a number of agencies online which offer such a service, but as I do not agree with this practice I wont be linking to them here.
One good example of this is Kim Kardashian.
Note, that the reality queen only follows 129 people and yet has 33 million followers. You may not like it, but this woman has true influence.
Do Their Blog Posts Garner Comments
If people when they blog attract huge amount of comments, then they probably have a lot of influence. You may think that it is what the person is saying is attracting the comments, and this is sometimes the case if the content is exceptional, but most of the time the commenters are reacting to the power of the individuals brand. This is quite clear when you track lessor influential people who produce just as good content but do not tick all the other boxes.
Which is why “quality content” is all you need, is a fallacy.
For content to be influential it matters just as much who is producing the content than what it contains.
Which is why personal brand is so influential and why someone like Kim Kardashian can tweet a picture of a cat and it get thousands of retweets.
The counterpoint to this is that it is possible to be influential and get no comments, but that those who do have comments definitely have comments.
Therefore zero comments does not equal zero influence, but it could.
Do Other People Engage with Them on Twitter and Other Social Media?
This is a good way to figure out if those 200k followers a person has on Twitter are sock puppet accounts.
If they have constant, regular discourse with their Twitter followers and you assume these people to be real people, then this is a great flag for being influential. You will often note that some quite important people who previous to social media would never speak to the masses, now involve themselves in lengthy chats. There are no gatekeepers now, so if you want to speak to Lord Sugar, Stephen Fry, Piers Morgan, Cailtin Moran, etc. you can.
Of course some people are Twitter addicts and by their very nature invite conversation. But does this increase or decrease their influence. Does their openness for dialogue make them more influential, I think it does. A lot of people were already influential before they took to Twitter, but it’s useful to note how they have used the platform to increase their influence.
If you are trying to increase your own influence online, take a look at how a lot of these Twitter celebrities act and the attitude they take to social media discourse. Most have other things going on other than twitter, and so have something real to Tweet about.
If someone gets little to no one engaging them on social media, then it is self-evident that their influence is little to non-existent.
KLOUT and Other Tools
I know people love to ask about which tools to use, but in my view there are no definitive tools and each tool has the possibility of being artificially manipulated, but if you take your evidence from a number of sources and filter it through your own knowledge you will find the results far more effective.
Trust your own eyes. Bury yourself in the niche, read everything, the more you know the more acute your perception of the niche will be. Don’t trust one or even two sources, get as many as you can get your hands on.
* Photo 1