The Future Laboratory

Mat Bickley : Quantifying online influence

27 : 02 : 2012 JOYN : Matt Bickley : Digital Research

As celebrity-endorsement, and social and new media becomes ever more important in your marketing mix, they are throwing up many questions. How do you choose which celebrities, bloggers, Tweeters, Tumblers or any other social media-ers to work with? Once you’ve chosen, how do you know if you’ve chosen the right ones: by checking how many followers they have, or how often they update? A brand such as Klout or a service such as Google Analytics might provide clues, but there is no definite answer – yet.

Mat Bickley, founder of London-based consultancy JOYN, believes he has the solution, a tool that accurately measures online influence. Using a digital research tool called Linkfluence, which measures social media data, he filters responses to any celebrity, campaign or website on social sites. He looks for clusters of activity. Bickley then personally analyses the data, ranking users by the number and nature of comments they make, building a picture of the blogger, and working out who is influential and who is not. ‘We filter out the noise of the internet,’ Bickley says. ‘After all, a brand could have 1,000 Twitter followers – but what does that really mean?’

Listening and segmenting
Bickley helps brands work out what that means by listening and segmenting the conversations people are having about the brand online. ‘I help brands see the influence they have,’ he says. ‘And who their followers are, what they’re saying, what most interests them, and what other brands and celebrities are most relevant to a brand’s peer group for tie-ups. By doing so we help them be more strategic and effective in their digital activity.’

Know who is most influential
In 2011, JOYN published a report that ranked the most influential fashion blogs, online magazines and websites in the UK and US. To do so, its analysts noted the numbers of inbound links from other websites and, within that, the popularity among relevant peer groups linking to them. The report, which will be updated on a monthly subscription basis, placed Scott Schuman’s the Sartorialist, followed by Style Bubble and Jak & Jil, as highest in the ranking. Next, the company is developing a celebrity directory. ‘But you could apply the methodology to anything,’ says Bickley. ‘From beauty brands to booze.’

Top five take-outs
1. Be a social media brand.
2. Marketing campaigns are easier to track, and easier to understand, online.
3. Choose your bloggers wisely.
4. Try JOYN’s technology to see if it can help your brand choose the most influential bloggers available.
5. Segment your customer base, as consumer societies develop at different paces.

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