Engage from the top: 6 ways to map influences on an influencer
To truly get on someone’s radar, you need to demonstrate that you both inhabit the same social space--but first you have to map it out. All the tools mentioned in this post are free and available without registration.
Where do they comment?
Not all bloggers have blogrolls (sidebar permalinks to other blogs), and even if they do, many of them haven’t been updated in months or years. It’s far more valuable to know which content your influencer actually engages with. If you’re already using a spreadsheet to keep tabs on your influencer outreach, add a column labeled “influenced by”. Your first step to filling in the “influenced by” column is to take advantage of a little-known, but powerful Backtype trick. Most blog comment systems link the commenters name to the website of their choice, and marketing-minded influencers rarely fail to leave the URL field blank:
Backtype lets us see the places where a particular URL has been submitted in this field across the web. Just enter the influencer’s website, without http://www after the following URL: http://www.backtype.com/url/. For example, if I wanted to see where uber-influencer Chris Brogan “hangs out,” I would go to http://www.backtype.com/url/chrisbrogan.com, and I would get something like this:
Add to your “influenced by” column a link to every post your influencer has commented on in the last 30 or 60 days.
What topics do they care about and who do they link to?
Reading someone’s Twitter bio or the About page on their blog is not enough to tell us what they really care about. People write about their interests, but rarely hand us a complete list of what these interests include. Luckily, there are several great tools to help us out. Create an “interests” column, and fill it with what you learn from the following.
To quickly gather the most-used words and phrases on a blog or RSS feed, use Wordle. This free site creates a word cloud for a given URL. For instance, here are the topics it associates with Robert Scoble’s RSS feed:
You can easily remove the “noise” from this cloud (words like cool, the, etc.) right from Wordle. Analyzing an RSS of an influencer’s latest Tweets is similarly informative.
Looking at a blog’s outbound links can tell you a lot about who and what influences your influencer. SeoQuake is a nifty Firefox tool that can generate on-the-spot reports, including outbound links. While it lacks anchor text analysis, it can still help you get a better sense of the other blogs on your influencer’s radar. Add the sites you see repeated to the “influenced by” column.
Who do they really follow?
It’s easy to see everyone a Twitter user follows, but this is empty data without more digging. Start with lists. Focus on the lists that your influencer has created. To locate their Twitter “inner circle”, pay more attention to lists that are exclusive. Create a column on your spreadsheet and populate it with these Twitter users.
Klout’s Influence Matrix is helpful, but not reliably accurate. Just enter a Twitter handle, click go, and scroll down to “Influenced by.”
Mentionmap visualizes mentions, per user, of both topics and other Twitter users. It isn’t comprehensive by any means, but it can certainly help inform your influence mapping.
Tweetstats offers the most complete look at two important metrics: who a user replies to, and who a user retweets. On Twitter, these are the nodes of influence you need to track most closely. Their names should be in bold in your Twitter column.
Social media brings users closer than ever to influencers, and with the right tools, can be a great way to get noticed. Do your homework to connect with influencers through the people and media that influence them.