Social media white paper: is influence what we should measure?


As requested, I have republished the white paper into separate blog posts so that each section can be commented on. This post focuses on the fifth section – is influence what we should measure. You can still download the full paper by clicking the link: Distributed influence: quantifying the impact of social media (PDF).

Links to all sections:

  1. introduction
  2. why is it important to measure online influence?
  3. social media index
  4. defining influence
  5. is influence what we should measure?
  6. should marketers target influencers or the easily influenced?
  7. what can we be selling that is better to buy than impressions?
  8. what are the origins of influence?
  9. the move to micro communications
  10. be cautious 
  11. a formula to understand influence
  12. what makes this actionable?
  13. conclusion


Is influence what we should measure?

Using this theory, the roundtable concluded that in the context of social media, an influential person is not necessarily the individual who has the ‘bright idea’. Influence can largely be determined by the meme.

In Jeremiah Owyang’s Dow Jones White Paper on ‘Tracking the Influence of Conversation’, a meme was defined as: “an idea or discussion that grows and spreads from individual to individual into a lengthy commentary”.

Jeff Jarvis strongly believed that for someone to be influential they will likely be either a meme starter or a meme spreader:

1) The meme starter (Who? When? Where? Why? How)
This person typically is creative, forms opinions and articulates them well. They have the ability to state a view at the right time. Their readership is not necessarily large but views the individual as trustworthy.

2) The meme spreader (Who? How fast? How long? Where? Why? How?)
This person thrives by sharing opinions and wants to do it first. They are trusted and have a large readership.

Starters and spreaders of memes are the most influential people – Jeff Jarvis

However, following the roundtable, I believe that there are a further three types of influencer that should be taken into consideration. They may not be as strong an influencer but they still have a high impact in the community. These people are:

3) The meme adapter
This person reads what is going on outside their traditional sphere of knowledge. They take the opinions of others and reform them so that it is tailored to their bespoke niche group. This information is then published and spread to a smaller but highly targeted audience.

4) The meme commentator
This person does not create content but reads the views and opinions of others and takes part in conversation via adding comments. They are far more likely to share the knowledge of this topic with their peers through offline discussion rather than published content.

5) The meme reader
This person does not create any online content. However, they tend to be a vociferous consumer of information to which they read, learn and share with their peers in the offline world. Although not having the same reach as the meme spreader, their views are trusted and are able to promote these ideas in an alternative method.

The common themes behind the memes are:

  • Topics and context

  • Believability and credibility of message (both real and perceived)

  • Relationships. Number and quality of people in any one conversation and number of talkers and listeners.

  • Time. What happens now?

One Response to “Social media white paper: is influence what we should measure?”

  1. Now I feel like I learned something? What meme type are you? Now if this topic gains a wide and varying interest it would make an interesting fun test.

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