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Eminence, Prestige, or Popularity

What does it mean to be eminent? There are a number of online presentations and seminars on increasing your social media eminence, or “digital footprint.” What are some attributes of eminent people? They tend to be in a position of superiority or distinction. Often they are high ranking or famous (either worldwide or within their social community or sphere of influence) and have a tremendous amount of influence over those who hear what they have to say.

For example, if the president of the United States (or any world leader) makes a comment on some social or economic issue, that comment is usually picked up by the press and is on everyone’s lips by the time the evening news comes on (more so if it’s a controversial topic). These leaders are highly influential and can literally change the minds or perspectives of millions of people in a relatively short time span. On the other hand, if coauthor Avinash Kohirkar makes a public statement about the same topic, the results are vastly different. He may influence family and friends, but the net effect of his comments pale in comparison to those that are viewed with a higher degree of eminence.

So what do these users do to lay claim to being popular, prestigious, or eminent?

People who are perceived to have a high degree of social media eminence publish high-quality articles or blog entries. Other users rush to see what they have to say (and often repeat it or are influenced by it). Highly eminent people are seen as those individuals who add value to online business discussions. Their eminence is further bolstered by others who have rated their contributions as valuable and have tagged them for reuse by others. In Chapter 11, we talk about how social analytics can be used to determine eminence!

It stands to reason that we would want to know what these people are saying. We also want to know if something was said in the social media concerning our brands or products. It does make a difference if a comment was made by a simple techie (such as Avinash) or a world leader.

One of the challenges in using eminence (or influence) as a metric is determining how to quantify it. There is a lot of discussion and debate in the industry about this topic, and there are lots of tools and approaches that people are using to measure influence 11. To illustrate this point here, we are going to make some assumptions and come up with a simple formula.

In some of our work, we make the following assumptions:

  • Influential people are those who often have their comments repeated.
  • Influential people tend to have many people following them (that is, the interest in what they have to say is high).

Based on these assumptions, we defined a simple metric called “reach” that is a quantifiable way to determine how widespread someone’s message could be. Reach, to us, is simply the number of things that a person has said multiplied by the number of people listening. Is this metric perfect? No. But it is something to watch for: a person with a large reach is saying a lot and is also reaching a wide audience. Granted, someone could be blabbering about some topic on social media and posting thousands of messages, all being received by a small handful of listeners. If that’s a concern, simply look to modify the definition of influence to something like that shown in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 Simple formulas for calculating influence.

It is possible for a company to use the concept of influencers to effectively communicate a key marketing message broadly. Consider the effect a well-known industry analyst who is constantly talking about security in financial institutions such as banks could have on the perception of various institutions. In addition, if we follow this analyst, we will come to understand the social media venues that this analyst and others like him or her participate in. As an example, let’s assume that IBM acquired a company that specializes in fraud detection for banks. Our marketing teams in IBM will be served well by posting about this event on the venues that this analyst is already quite active in. If the analyst is impressed by the acquisition and chooses to “like” it or “share” it, that message will be received by a large number of his or her followers.

How do we measure how influential someone is? Or how do we measure how effective a person’s messages are? We can look to see if that person has talked about a specific product or service and then measure the sales of that product or service to see if there is an increase (or decrease). However, that would be a difficult measurement and, quite honestly, wouldn’t represent the image or perception of the product or service, which could, at a later date, affect the sales.

Instead, we chose to look at someone’s reach, or how far and wide this person’s message could be spread. Figure 3.4 shows an example of how reach could be computed in a message system such as Twitter (although it’s equally applicable to any systems where a post is made and others follow that posting).

In Figure 3.4, we show that an individual’s reach can simply be calculated in one of two ways:

  • Method 1—Multiply the number of messages sent by the number of people that could read that message. If someone sends 1,000 messages and 10 people are following that person, the combined message has a calculated score of 10,000 (see Table 3.2).
  • Method 2—Multiply the number of messages sent by the number of people that could read the message and then multiply that result by the ratio of followers to messages.

Table 3.2 Example of Determining Someone’s Reach in Social Media

Followers

Messages

Reach (Method 1) (Followers * messages)

Ratio

Reach (Method 2)

10

1,000

10,000

0.01

100

200

50

10,000

4

40,000

In method 2, we’ve add another factor to our equation: the ratio of the number of followers to the number of messages produced. Doing so effectively gives more weight to the person with a larger following. This produces perhaps a more meaningful score for our metric, where we might be more inclined to focus on the comments of the second user rather than those of the first.

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