Altimeter Open Research Report: The Rise of Digital Influence

Altimeter Groups’s latest Open Research report (available on creative commons for you to download, use, and share) is now available from analyst Brian Solis. This report, which challenges the way that companies measure influence points out how tools like Klout, Kred, Empire Avenue and beyond.


[Physics Measures Both Potential and Kinetic Energy. Similarly, Digital Influence must measure Both Social Capital (Potential) as well as Actual Influence (Kinetic)]

In fact, companies are quick to add influence metrics into their social support systems, and marketing prioritization despite having full understanding of how these measurement tools actually create their indexes. This report, written as a playbook for businesses focuses on how to benefit from desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence. The report also helps consumers and academics understand how influence is scored and how these scores affect online reputations.

Open Research Highlights:
We practice Open Research, and hope you use it, share it, which enables us to create more. Here’s some key insights from the report, that drew my attention.

  • Influence is largely misunderstood, in fact the report makes a nod that these tools like Klout, Kred actually measure social capital — not your influence but instead, your potential for it.
  • None of the vendor services evaluated in the report measure true influence. Today’s software algorithms track social capital and topical authority based on online activity
  • The report helps companies understand how influence spreads, and includes case studies in which brands partnered with vendors to recruit connected consumers for digital influence campaigns.
  • The report evaluates 14 Influence vendors, organizing them by Reach, Resonance, and Relevance: the Three Pillars that make up the foundation for Digital Influence as defined in the report – not every service is designed to provide a total solution for every business need.
  • The report includes an Influence Framework and an Influence Action Plan to help brands identify connected consumers and to define and measure strategic digital influence initiatives.

Figure 2. Social Capital's Path Toward Actions and Outcomes
The report demonstrates a path how businesses should properly measure the impact of influence –not just look at an index number. Note how the further to the right, it actually demonstrates the outcome of the influencer, their network, and what actually happened.

Figure 7. Influence Tracker Features: Reach


Above is a sample: Dive into report to see feature comparison of all vendors, which breaks down feature comparison by: Score, Reach, Influencer Relationship Management, and beyond.

Related Discussions
I’ll cross-link to thoughtful discussions reviewing the report below

Learn about Altimeter’s three business disruption themes and upcoming report agenda to learn how our research will the industry forward.

Edit: I updated the post to include the phrase about potential and kinetic energy based of a conversation with Richard at Dell.

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  • http://twitter.com/jbell99 John Bell

    Not sure that your paper clarifies much of the business relevance and application of measures of influence more than simply evaluate some of the companies who have tried to create an all-purpose index of popular voices online. There are three big problems with the Klouts and Peer Indexes of this world. The first is widely commented on – they do more to index popularity than they do influence. Those who actively work to increase their Klout score are likely demonstrating their ability to do just that than any true influence. 

    The second problem is context or lack thereof. We have been identifying digital influencers, building relationships and engaging with them on behalf of large multi-national brands for over 7 years. We always identify and connect with folks that have an influential track record and the potential for influence in a specific category for a specific brand. That context does as much to define influence as many other metrics. One person can be highly influential about car technology while it will be a completely different person who is influential on infant nutrition. One person can be influential for Ford but not for Chevy.  You cover that in your “relevance pillar” just as we cover it in our relevance measures in our own influence mapping model. Yet it is so bespoke to a brand situation as to defy the type of operationalizing that these index purveyors are promising. We maintain a database of over 450 North American influencers for a large auto manufacturer – all of who are engaged in long term relationships with us. They represent different affinities and subject expertise. They could never have been found by simply looking for ‘auto influencers.’

    Lastly, developing your own framework may be intellectually interesting but it defies how we work. God knows, we have a rigorous model that we have been evolving ever since Technorati launched with an “authority” score (that, like Klout, meant little.) But practically speaking it must be streamlined as it is only one piece of an actionable model. For any marketers with experience designing and executing influencer engagement programs, you quickly understand that it is more useful to build a pool of influencers who fit into broad quadrants in a Influence x Relevance matrix and then engaging with all save for the lower left (low influence x low relevance). We have a model that is just as rigorous if not more and, yet on an everyday basis our job is to apply that model quickly and effectively to determine clusters of influencers.  We use our model everyday because we trust it. We cannot hand that trust off to a black-box algorithm nor to someone else’s idea of what the word “resonance” means. 

    It’s interesting that your analysis focused on index sellers and academics as you might have gone in a completely different direction had you examined what strategists and practitioners are doing.

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  • http://twitter.com/chrisdowsett Chris

    Agree with John – the business relevance is missing. I feel like there are few holes that are crucial to influence, particularly as practitioners use influence in day-to-day projects. The indexes themselves also have black holes in their metrics/measurement that is more about broader headlines than actual, specific influence measurement.

  • http://twitter.com/arthuranswers Arthur Huynh

     This is absolutely right. Context is a huge part of it and more effort needs to be put into the strategy behind targeting and engagement. We can’t just base out decisions on the metrics at hand, but the data and insight we can gather beyond the influence score. eCairn is taking steps in that direction, and I thank Mr. Owyang for mentioning our blog post in the links below his post!

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  • http://www.telemartnetwork.com/ Teleshopping India

    Thanks for this useful sharing. Companies are quick to add influence metrics into their social support
    systems, and marketing prioritization despite having full understanding
    of how these measurement tools actually create their indexes. Nice post. Keep It Up.

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  • http://cyberlinkmedia.com/ Vasko Tashevski

    I admire Brian Solis work and follow him regularly. 

    Skimmed through the report..It’s a fact that companies will look for ways to stimulate the high power users or the ones with established social capital even more as the social web evolves and takes more of our time everyday.This program can be a great framework for shaping specific action plans.

    Thanks!

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