Influencer identification is probably the most important public relations activity brands engage in these days. Mapping and understanding who it is that can move and motivate your potential customers is imperative since consumers no longer rely mostly on mainstream news sources and, thus, the press release has become moot.
To succeed in “media” outreach in 2016, you need to know who your audience follows and engages with, who talks about you and who could potentially talk about you. From there, you try to build relationships, investigate their paid and earned media opportunities and find ways to funnel your messages, content or opportunities through them to the audience you hope to reach. Because influencers today are everything from YouTube stars to moms with huge followings on Pinterest rather than TV talk show hosts and newspaper beat writers, you’re going to need a tool to analyze influence online to map and perhaps engage these folks.
Sysomos announced a new influencer mapping platform, aptly named Influence, along with a paid targeting add-on called Optimize, as part of a larger, integrated toolset Thursday they call SET — Sysomos Everything Together. These new add-ons for influence and paid targeting, combined with their already impressive MAP and Heartbeat listening products weave a couple new features into a larger suite of services. For existing Sysomos users, the tool got better. For potential users, the capabilities are more robust.
Here’s my take on what this really is and means:
- Sysomos has added a new dedicated thing to help you map influencers. It can be a stand-alone product, but at $500 per month (roughly) is expensive for small and medium businesses. Used alongside the other Sysomos products, though, it can help you identify, then monitor these influencers over time (in MAP or Heartbeat). You can also pull those influencers into Optimize and generate targeted lists for paid social advertising that can help you increase conversion rates, impact of paid spend, etc.
- Sysomos continues — as do most social listening platforms — to have an inordinate focus on Twitter. This is largely because Twitter’s firehose is easy to get if you’re willing to pay for it. Facebook doesn’t offer such an animal and other platform APIs are more restrictive than Twitter’s. My concern with these new features is that while the functionality is pretty awesome, focusing so much on Twitter is focusing on a lot of irrelevant connections. People don’t see Tweets as meaningfully as they see Facebook posts or Instagram images or even pins on Pinterest. I’ve offered my concerns about focusing on Twitter before and these new feature sets just exacerbate that worry. Neither we nor they (meaning Sysomos) have good access to Facebook data for listening. No one does other than Facebook, for now, so it’s not a slight on Sysomos. But until we can pull in more networks that have more meaningful interactions, I’m afraid all this sexy functionality is kind of all for naught. Or at least little. So take that into context as you consider these tools.
- As an enterprise listening solution, Sysomos is inching closer and closer to becoming a robust research platform, not just a monitoring/customer service function with some cool reporting outputs. I would now — thanks to these integrations — put it both halfway between monitoring/listening (competing with Radian6 or Brandwatch) and a research platform (along side Netbase, Crimson Hexagon, etc.) I would also move it a little closer to the label of a true integrated digital marketing solution because the Optimize suite brings in some smart social ad targeting functionality. I’ve never cared for Sysomos’s “management” integrations, though the recent acquisition of Expion and re-launched Sysomos-Expion feature set is a nice jump forward for them. They’re closer to being an all-in-one solution, which only a few can really say (Sprinklr, Spredfast, etc.)
The Influence Feature Set
I actually got to test drive the Influence feature set and really do like it. It’s new, so there are some kinks to work out, but if you want to identify and map influential folks on Twitter for your brand or category, Sysomos’s Influence has a few features I haven’t seen elsewhere.
You enter your Boolean search for the topic you’re mapping and a list of “cards” appear showing influential users. You can see an influence score (1-100 with higher numbers showing more influence), the number of tweets that users posts per day and their follower count. That sits atop an authority score (1-10 with 10 being very authoritative, or relevant to the search terms). The cards also show the Twitter bio of the person in question. What the card lacks is some qualitative indication of why they’re potentially influential. To get that, you have to click into their profile.
However, when you get to their profile, you get some juicy goodness. The last 100 tweets and an array of their followers are available on tabs, but so are a Wordcloud and Sysomos’s unique Buzzgraph tabs. But in these, instead of a Wordcloud of that person’s tweets, or a Buzzgraph of that person’s content, you see Wordclouds and Buzzgraphs of their follower’s conversations. This is incredibly useful since you care less about what they Tweet and more about what their audience Tweets since those people are who you’re ultimately trying to appeal to.
In the image above, you see the Buzzgraph from the Twitter account for a bar and restaurant. Their followers most common topic is “party” and an off-shoot — “champagne” — has a significant number of sub-topics, which actually appear to be usernames. My guess is there was a significant number of people involved in a bachelorette party which slanted this data.
But you can start to see other sub-topics the fans of this particular bar talk about. And if you’re trying to reach an audience interested in partying tonight playing games with free drinks, perhaps served in mugs or buckets and drinking Fireball (disclosure: client), this is a perfect influencer for you.
Now look at the Wordcloud for this account’s followers:
This is a bar in Huntington, W.Va., and probably one frequented by Marshall University students and fans. Pretty useful to see if that’s a target market for you.
The hiccup here is there’s no option to see the Wordcloud or Buzzgraph of that influencer’s stream. Perhaps that’s a useful iteration Sysomos can add soon.
I also like the Tweet Life analysis which is available on individual tweets. It shows you a shelf-life view of the tweet to show how quickly it caught momentum, how long that momentum lasted, who was responsible for its movement and how “viral” it became. While rudimentary in comparison, it starts to get to the more sophisticated visualizations found in tools like Zignal Labs.
Overall, Influence is a nice influencer identification and mapping tool. It lacks some fluidity — no way to add a user to a list from the drill down, profile view, etc. — but it has some powerful new looks at the data that can be incredibly insightful for brands looking for pathways to certain audiences.
You can learn more about Influence, Optimize and the SET product offering at Sysomos.com.