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Understanding the influencers in social media

by Christian Waldheim , 06.07.2015

Social media monitoring is an essential reputation management activity for brands around the world. “Listening” to consumers via social media is now standard practice for brands seeking to understand what is said about them online. But it is effectively a one-dimensional process that fails to take into account the ever-growing influence that social media channels and users have on consumers’ lives. With this evolution of influence, brands face a new challenge. It is no longer enough for them to understand what is being said. More importantly, they must understand where the spheres of influence lie.

Decoding the new power list online

Marketers have long known which individuals and outlets within traditional media have the power to make or break a product or brand and how to engage with them. But it is much more difficult to identify who the key influencers are on social media. The chances are that you don’t know their names. In all likelihood, some of these individuals don’t even know themselves the extent to which they can influence the fortunes of your brand.

Unpacking relationships in social media

To help brands understand where and with whom power lies, we have developed a new technique that enables brands to understand spheres of influence online. Network Analysis goes beyond the semantics of social media monitoring to understand the relationships between brands and users, audience segments and interest clusters on social media. This multi-dimensional approach allows brands to get to know the individuals who are influencing the purchasing decisions and loyalty of their consumers online.

Many brands often find this a surprising voyage of discovery with a significant amount of influence being detected in seemingly unlikely places. For instance, in a recent study on the dynamics of the German fashion market, we discovered that the group of consumers we identified as “Casual Dressers” have more influence on the German fashion scene than “Haute Couture” fashionistas.

The democratic nature of social media means that it is often relatively unknown individuals rather than big brands or names that hold the power online. The key is to understand the spheres of influence around your customers and to develop strategies that will ensure your brand makes and maintains the right connections: those that will enable you to flourish both on and offline.

To find out more about network analysis and how you can understand the balance of power in social media,