As a sort of experiment

How Much do ‚Social Influencers’ Matter for Brands

Since the ancient, early days of social media, people have been obsessed with certain numbers as expressed in almost existential questions: How many people should I follow on Twitter? Are enough people following me? Should I accept friend requests from strangers not to mention high school classmates I haven’t thought of in ages to pad out my Facebook social circle?

Lately, everybody’s been obsessing about yet another number a sort of meta number that is meant to tally your „social influence,” particularly on Twitter. Among the players in the cheap jerseys influence rating space: Klout (known for its notorious Klout Score), PeerIndex and Twitalyzer, while companies like PeopleBrowsr offer integrated solutions: ways to identify influencers („Find Your Brand Champions”) and means to further engage them. Confoundingly, though, all the influence grading companies use secret algorithms to judge you. In fact, given how ridiculously divergent influence scores tend to be one service can give you a high score, while another decides you’re basically a social loser you might decide the whole influence ranking phenomenon is a questionable racket.

Of course, all the companies insist that there are well thought out processes behind their parsing of various data, including how often you’re retweeted, the relative influence of your followers, etc. Some of the influence tracking companies also attempt to quantify your social influence elsewhere, including on Facebook and LinkedIn.

As a sort of experiment, Advertising Age decided to look past mere scores. And so we asked one company, PeopleBrowsr, to name names of specific influencers. We went with PeopleBrowsr not only because it was ready and able to do what we asked, but because of its deep history with Twitter: It started collecting, archiving and analyzing the tweet stream back in 2007, before Twitter even bought Summize, the company whose tweet search product became Twitter’s site search.

We gave a list of brands to PeopleBrowsr and said: Tell us who, on Twitter, is influencing the conversation about them. The ranked results, along with some opinionated responses from me:

I don’t drive an Audi as a Manhattanite, I don’t even own a car but in manually parsing these users’ tweet streams, my reaction is: Hmmmm. My suspicion: Its nonstop name checking of Audi (in virtually every tweet) misleadingly amplifies its apparently small Twitter footprint in regard to the brand.

For the AMC series „Mad Men,” PeopleBrowsr broke influencers into two self explanatory categories. In other words, is „social influence” about preaching to (and/or amusing) the already converted, or finding new converts?

Once again, PeopleBrowsr chose to subcategorize influencers here. On his linked Tumblr, he identifies himself as a 13 year old Australian; he apparently amassed close to 59,000 followers for being a boy who openly admits to being a fan of pop star Justin Bieber. But it’s okay because I will accept the pain to support Justin”), though nothing that I can see about „American Idol.” Is he truly influencing the Twitter conversation about „Idol” on Twitter? PeopleBrowsr says yes. I happen to be a Maker’s Mark man myself when you’re buying. Otherwise, I’m probably drinking cheap vodka. 1 is a delicious nectar made by gods. The other is Jack Daniels.”).