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What Does Influence Mean?

During MSLGROUP North America’s analysis of the Target credit card data breach, we spent some time discussing who had the most influence in the social media sphere. Breaking down “influencers” into different groups, we had deep discussions on who was saying what and why they mattered in the scope of the breach.

From top tier media to local press to non-media, just what does it mean to be an “influencer?”

Target Data Breach Influencer

For starters, “influencer” is not found in all dictionaries. Online you can find vague definitions here and there that direct you to the word “influence” and make the connection that way. One of the most well-known social media influencer ranking tools, Klout, defines influence:

“Influence is the ability to drive action. When you share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence.”

Social media research tool Nuvi measures influence by analyzing an individual’s Twitter account. Nuvi pulls together information from their bio, the industry he or she tweets about most often, and topics and themes from actual tweets. That analysis is the core of Nuvi’s algorithm which is then laid on top of Klout’s algorithm to create a unique influence score.

What this technical description means is there is a complex math problem that spits out information on who leads the discussion on a certain topic. Simply said, influencers are discussion leaders. They are the individuals or groups who dominate conversation and can drive stories and change perceptions.

In a crisis, it’s those discussion leaders – or influencers – who should matter most. Monitor what those influencers are saying. Top influencers, whether media or non-media, can provide critical information on how a company is perceived and what is expected of them. While it may not be appropriate to directly engage, knowing what influencers are saying can help guide messaging.

Following the disclosure of the Target breach in December, the MSLGROUP Technology Practice evaluated more than 70K social media posts and engagements about Target. We published an eBook outlining what we learned, and it’s available for free here.

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Amanda Fountain

Amanda Fountain

Account Executive at MSLGROUP

Amanda works on a mix of technology and healthcare clients with MSLGROUP. A social media lover, you can usually find her tweeting.

Amanda Fountain

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