Market Influencers: Identification and Analysis
Companies have dwindling direct influence over the public conversation about their products and services. At the same time independent influencers also drive buying decisions amongst audiences therefore identifying them and how they shape the market is a worthy and vital task for competitive intelligence organizations.
The Rise of Influencers in Shaping Market Behaviors
Internet-based information increasingly guides B2B and B2C customer behavior, from product web sites to discussions and reviews. Within that sphere, individuals ascend to positions of influence through public trust and their reputation for expertise married with objectivity.
The organic rise of influencers through channels such as blogs and social media means that they are not necessarily simple to identify, even if they have a great deal of impact over shaping the public discourse that surrounds a company, product, or service. Competitive intelligence techniques are well suited to determining who these influencers are and how they affect perception and buying decisions.
Identifying the Influencers with Significant Impact
In many companies, management regards the changing market landscape around these influencers as the province of PR or marketing organizations. While those groups certainly have a role, determining who influencers are and the sphere of their impact can be outside core PR or marketing expertise.
For example, using open source intelligence techniques, you can identify the people driving a given conversation. QA sites such as Quora and Focus.com are great resources for that effort, and measuring an influencer’s digital reach helps you quantify how important he or she is to your market. For example, a high number of Twitter followers, high follower-to-following ratio, and large number of LinkedIn connections suggest that an influencer has a substantial reach.
Deriving Value from Insights about Influencers
After identifying the pool of influencers that are important to a topic, the next level of analysis helps complete the picture. For example, NodeXL’s social network graphing tools can identify who those influencers are following, which enlarges the pool of influencers identified and contributes to a more complete understanding of the overall conversation.
As you choose which influencers to monitor and for follow-up interviews, start by reading their commentary, with an eye toward seeing how clear and substantive it is, as well as to better understand their points of view. Considering the factors in the acronym “AES” can help identify the best prospects: accessibility, experience, and perspective. Influencers with all three of those characteristics are good choices for your attention, as you identify how they are shaping the market and potentially driving your competitor’s sales.
By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart
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