Originally posted on Technobabble 2.0.

TweetLevel and BlogLevel are two purpose-built tools for the PR industry that aim to be a GPS for navigating influence. At its heart is an open and transparent algorithm that seeks to measure who is important within each social media channel.

Resting behind the methodology are several key insights:

Influence without context is irrelevant

Understanding measurement is more than simply putting a name into an algorithm. It’s a process. If you are looking at influence, then go for Justin Bieber – however, if you are looking to get the right people to speak about you and engage on your behalf then understanding context is critical. The first step in TweetLevel that we always recommend anyone follows is context. Using Boolean logic, anyone can enter a search term to identify who are currently the most influential people about a certain subject. Only when you have identified who these people are can you source relevant measurement metrics. The process that it follows is:

  1. Which people have the largest share of voice about a specific search topic.
  2. Ranking the top 100 people by their SOV, we then import these names into TweetLevel to identify their influence score.
  3. We recommend that brands should focus on people with a score between 65 and 85. Above that score people are significant but are in the realms of the Today Show and PR pros must question how likely is it that their message will want to be heard by this target.

Much as we would like to engage with every relevant person, the sad truth is that most people do not have the time or resources to do so. We therefore need to prioritize which people to focus on. This process explains how to find them.

Popularity does not equal influence

The above statement is bold and almost 100% true. I am not naive that if you are popular then by default you are more likely to be influential. However, this is just one factor that can measure how important someone is. The numbers of followers someone has is interesting to me but not as key as how somebody engages in relevant conversations or create ideas that then resonate through the social web.

Engagement is not the same as activity

People have long understood the difference between broadcasting and engaging. As communication channels become more dynamic and interactive, true influence is derived by having two-way dialogues, asking questions and by posting interesting and informative content.

This is the time of the new influential – idea starters and amplifiers are both influential in their own way

If you compare the lists of top tweeters from TweetLevel with other tools on the market, there will be a marked difference in that in our lists you will see some people with comparatively few followers and yet with a higher influence score than their peers who may be extremely popular. The reason for this is that TweetLevel identifies which people create ideas which are then amplified. This isn’t to say that both types of people aren’t important but more that they are both key targets and should be engaged with.

We are at a tipping point where sociology and technology can assist us in engagement

Continuing the argument above, we are at a wonderful position whereby sociology and technology are merging to assist us in understanding how to engage with different audiences in the most appropriate manner. TweetLevel can identify what type of person an individual is by their online behavior. We call this the “Topology of Influence.

We believe that influence is derived by how information flows between different people. Backed-up by the Web Science team at the University of Southampton, influential people can be: idea starters, amplifiers, curators, commentators or viewers.

People within these different categories all portray behavioral attributes that when complemented are more likely to promote the spread of a message. For example with Idea Starters I would engage in a deep structured discussion and with amplifiers I would understand their need to satisfy their readership and provide them with pre-packaged information that they can easily re-purpose.

TweetLevel measures influence and more…

Understanding which people engage with is just half the story. Nothing irks me more than hearing someone has emailed their boss saying that “so-and-so has just retweeted us and they have 30 thousand followers.” Big Deal.

What is more important is ‘has there been a significant change in the amount of conversation that you have catalyzed’ and ‘defining whether people are talking and sharing the points you want them to’. These are key measurement metrics which Tweet and BlogLevel also measures.

However, I would always counsel having a consistent measurement approach:

  • At the beginning of a campaign: to set a benchmark and ensure your message is relevant
  • During the campaign: are there peaks at the right time? Do we need to course correct, issues hijack or amend our message?
  • At the end of the campaign: how have we done? Have the right people engaged? Has the right message been echoed and spread?
What the tools can and can’t do

TweetLevel and BlogLevel are tools that help PR pros take what would be either an expensive or time-consuming process into a free (these sites don’t charge) and quick job (reduces the analysis time from days to minutes). However, they don’t fully automate the identification or measurement role – this is intentionally done as a human mind always needs to validate and sanity check the results.

There are of course other excellent tools in the market. However, TweetLevel and BlogLevel are not trying to compete with them. These are purposefully built to mirror the way we work so we do not need to retrofit our work to complement their tools. These aren’t games or perks but simply a way that we can do our job better.

Of course, there are some added extras that go beyond measurement – for example identifying what individuals most frequently discuss, who they influence, who influences them and other people who talk about similar subjects.

I like to say that these tools are in continuous beta. As new developments arise or demand for specific features are required, we will update the tools accordingly.

What’s next?

To answer this simple question I would like to refer you to a simple quote that Jeremiah Owyang once said to me:

“If you want to influence me, be in a conversation with me – wherever that conversation takes place.”

I will be discussing both TweetLevel and BlogLevel at the forthcoming #measurePR chat on 30 August at 12-1 pm ET. I hope you can participate and join the debate. @jenzings will be hosting and my thanks to @shonali for organizing.

Image credit: wwarby

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