Digital Influence Part Two: Influencial DNA

What started as the following in-game post:

Here's an interesting article debating the likes of #EA and others regarding digital influence: http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/social-media-a-bad-measure-influence/227557/ - while well rounded, I must say to think that #SoMe is the (by no means) not the only measurement. Most current metrics are flawed to begin with as there's no defined standards and regulatory compliance. I practice #SoMe and don't hold nearly the stock in klout and other services as this article seems to portray. What are your thoughts?

turn into yet another robust discussion found from within the confines of the social media game "Empire Avenue":

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Dave Gilbert* of (http://kooiii.com/) says: As i see it there are many factors that make up what I consider to be a good Influencer for business, these are:

Traffic:
How much TARGETED TRAFFIC can an influencer create for my business.

Cost:
How Much do I have to invest in the influencer and what will my ROI be?

Regionally:
Many businesses can only ship to local markets therefore an influencer delivering traffic and Prospective clients from outside my market reach water down the effects of my campaigns and lower the ROI on my marketing and advertising investments.

Time:
How long will it take from the time the influencer becomes involved in my business promotions to when I will begin to see results? Again the shorter the time frame the higher ROI I can expect to receive.

Historical Data:
How has this influencer affected other similar companies, has it been successful in promoting comparable products in the past and how long has it been influencing the markets I am interested in.

Style:
Is the influencers style or mode of operation Aggressive or Passive, while for some markets an aggressive approach works best, in others a more passive approach is required, what fits best with my modus operandi.

There are probably many more factors I could list here that need to be considered when measuring and determining the influence a person or site has. For instance Google has for most been the main influence on how they develop their online presence, getting high ranking and position in the serps has been the main focus. However, using a search engine as an influencer is not always the best way to go, especially if your market is in a large and globally active niche. It would be much faster and more cost effective to target your efforts within the sites already portrayed at the top of the niche listings than try to compete for their position, as they will have greater influence than the search engines.

Social Sites on the other hand lose a lot of what should be seen as influence, simply by the sheer diversity of their membership and the fact that the majority of users on a Social Site are there to socialize rather than talk business or discuss metrics. Even this site could in some ways be included in this last group, as a portion of the membership here would be simply to play the game while other members would have a different set of reasons for participating, thus affecting its influence scores.

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From this discussion, I began to think what would my items be in addition to this. The possibilities are endless from what a business might seek in an influencer. I could see the need for:

Effect:
This would outline measurement against an influencers actions/statements.

Social Graph:
The social media game "Empire Avenue" has made great strides in opening up other social touch-points (e.i. Flickr, blogs, Youtube and user-generated RSS outposts) as valid social contributors. This to me personally is critical. If I as a marketer am releasing a photography application, I would want someone that lives in a deeper 'photography graph' than someone that might spend a large portion of their time talking within automotive forums, etc.

I'll prognosticate that the next few years will spout dozens of services (not that Facebook doesn't already have a huge leap on most in this prediction) that will simply aggregate, rank and produce ranking criteria for people's social output.

Ripple Effect:
An influencer makes a statement, does it spin into further conversation? This metric will need great clarification for businesses, not to simply watch the messaging, but to see how it distorts with the natural degradation of content the further it drifts from its original source.

Follow Up:
A true influencer's effectiveness should largely be measured by maintaining the conversation that she/he started.

Cost:
Let's be frank. As digital influence really becomes an effective tool, so will be the propensity to purchase the influencer talents. Just as I would as an advertiser seek highly subscribed bloggers for an outreach program, so will we for big influence metrics. The outline of 'cost' will end up being the final budgetary variable for future clients. Great influencers will simply come at a premium and therefore need to be positioned for the greatest amount of impact.

Perceived Value:
Much like the ripple effect, I think we'll see more of a need for sentiment than ever before. It's not simply the discussions that are important and what radiates out from them, but in what context are the discussion being perceived. Much like the Presidential approval rating, you need to know (especially if I've just rolled out a blogger or sponsored campaign) how said influencer is being perceived. Both positive or negative perception could be good. This would be largely dependent upon how you intend to use their talents, but every great story needs a villain and don't ever forget it.

*PLEASE NOTE: Requested consent of the this content to be a published blog was given prior to post.

What are you thoughts? What do you think goes into the makeup of "digital influence" and what would you look for first? I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you found this article helpful, stupid or possibly beneficial to a peer please feel free to pass it along to others using the tools below!