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Influencers are incredibly powerful, not just because of their reach, but because of their trusted relationships. They can bring your name and your services to a completely new audience. They can provide insights into your market – and the market’s view about you – that are uniquely valuable.  They can recommend you – or skewer you.

Clearly it is important to develop strong relationships with influencers – but how do you know who they are?  And more importantly, how might you assess the power of their influence? Here are ten tests that can help:

  1. The Google test: When you search for their area of expertise on Google, do they appear in the first few entries? Or further down the list? If you search for their name, are they referenced within a number of different sites, or just their own? Beyond Google, check the Bing search engine, as well as their website’s Alexa rank.
  2. The social follower test: While quantity isn’t everything, it is an important factor. How many followers/friends/connections does the influencer have on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn? And if there is a particular Social Network within your industry, how many followers do they have there?
  3. The activity level test: How active are they? How often do they post original thinking? How many shares, comments, likes, and retweets?
  4. The peer acknowledgement test: Have they earned professional recognition within their fields for their expertise and influence? If so, it suggests that they are both well known, and have made an impact – both indicators of influence.
  5. The economic test: How much do they charge for mentions, advertising, or sponsorship? The ability to charge for access is one indicator of the economic value of their influence: the more they charge, presumably the higher their influence. Be wary, however: many influencers see this practice as compromising their independence and objectivity, and don’t “sell” their name to anyone.
  6. The traditional media test: Perhaps we have come full circle, but too often influence is being defined narrowly as online influence. The traditional media test speaks to their recognition outside of the blogosphere and twitterverse. How often are they quoted – or write in – in newspapers and magazines? How often do they provide their perspective on radio or television? Are they regularly called by national media, or only by more obscure (or local) outlets?
  7. The longevity test: How many decades have they been doing what they’ve been doing? Expertise, profile, connections, and influence don’t “magically” come into being all by themselves – it builds over time.
  8. The fancy title test: Some people are given influence by virtue of their job. One definition of influence is an individual’s seniority multiplied by the size of their organization. If one of your goals is to build relationships with this type of influencer (a noble goal for a host of other reasons as well), remember that once they leave their job, you will need to start over with their replacement.
  9. The author/speaker test: How often do they speak on their expertise? Are they paid to speak, and if so, have they earned a CSP? How many books have they written? Are the books traditionally published, or are they self-published and of dubious quality?
  10. The community involvement test: Influence also stems from what people do beyond their day jobs. This may mean leadership in a professional association, faith community, neighborhood ratepayers group, school PTA, kids’ sports league, or their own baseball team.  The more active the person is, the greater their influence.

The most important test – relevance: The question of influence is not complete unless you address the question of who they are influential with. If a person or organization has influence with an irrelevant target audience, then why should you care? To you, that influencer is irrelevant.

This week’s action plan: Who are the influencers in your market? This week, spend a few minutes identifying them, and then put together a plan to build stronger relationships with them.

An alternative action plan: How might you become a more powerful influencer yourself? One clue: Look at the tests above, and consider how your current marketing initiatives move you up the scale on each.

Marketing Insight: In the publishing world, the degree of your influence is often referred to as the strength of your platform. The stronger your platform, the more books you will sell. In the marketing world, influence is both a driver of brand equity, and evidence of the brand’s strength.  The stronger your brand and your platform, the more successful any particular marketing initiative will be. This is true for organizations, and for individuals.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)


Marketing Insight: When Users Defect

by Randall Craig on January 31, 2012

Filed in: Blog, Blogging, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , , ,

Have you labored over your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for years, only to suddenly find a huge drop in your traffic?

As managers begin to probe the Return on Social Media Investment, an unexpected reversal is frustrating – and can have direct impact on the organization’s brand… and those responsible for it.

Determining the reasons for an abrupt change requires some detective work. For a blog, here are just a few of the possible reasons for a drop:

  • Another site that linked to yours no longer does.
  • You may have been dropped from a blogroll.
  • Because your content is duplicated on several pages throughout the internet, Google may be penalizing your search engine ranking.
  • Google is now increasing the weighting for the searcher’s location – if your content is hosted “far away”, this may be hurting you for a segment of your audience.
  • You’ve changed the domain of the blog, or you’ve changed the way the URL paths are coded.
  • The writing style on your blog has changed, and your readers don’t like it.
  • You’ve changed topics slightly, and your blog no longer appeals to certain readers… or to certain web sites: you may have lost both readers and links.
  • The blog design has changed, and people don’t like it.
  • You are now using too many (or too few) pictures.
  • The physical server your blog is hosted on is overloaded, resulting in a too-slow page load.
  • You’ve added more plug-ins, which have slowed your site even further.
  • The growing segment of mobile users don’t like your mobile interface.
  • A new smartphone or tablet was released, and your blog doesn’t take advantage of the platform.
  • A new version of a browser has been released, and your blog looks terrible on it.
  • The online advertising strategy (or spend) has changed, and fewer users are drawn to the blog.
  • The blog’s URL is no longer featured in off-web advertising, collateral, or communications.
  • A highly marketed competitive blog has started.

Key to determining the source of the change is a review of the analytics. For blogs, the key tool is Google Analytics; Facebook, YouTube, and other social platforms provide their own analytic tools as well.  Some questions to ask:  has the drop occurred because one particular source no longer providers users?  Or one particular browser is no longer supported?  (Or screen size?)  Is there less click-through to secondary pages?  And most importantly, did the drop happen all at once, or gradually over several months.  Pinpointing the precise time that the change manifested itself – the inflection point – is key to diagnosing the source of the problem.  And when the source is found, a prescriptive fix can be applied.

There are a number of situations when a drop in traffic may be expected.  For example, if the Social Media strategy calls for a change in the blog’s focus, then it is perfectly natural – and even desirable – for non-target readers to quit.

This week’s action plan:  If you are not reviewing your analytics on a regular basis, this is the week to start: 10 minutes is all it takes to quickly scan the numbers and charts.  Not only does this provide an early warning of potential problems, but it also is the first step in measuring ROI.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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