Measuring Influence Requires More than Counting Social Media Followers

Margot Sinclair Savell

While it's true that responding to every single tweet and being extremely active on social media can be a fruitful strategy, sometimes, having other influential users communicate your messages as brand advocates is most valuable. After all, that's why PR pros have focused on "earned media" as opposed to "paid media," right?

For brands concentrating on spreading their messages on social media, ample time must be spent focusing on the influencers that matter most in their respective markets. 

However, you have to be able to know—and, more important, measure—which journalists, bloggers and thought leaders have influence.

Margot Sinclair Savell, senior VP of global measurement, research+data insights at Hill+Knowlton Strategies,  knows how to both identify and measure who is influential in in certain markets.

Savell, a speaker at PR News' PR Measurement Conference on May 15 in Washington, D.C., provides some insights into how to measure influence. 

PR News: What's the biggest challenge in measuring and tracking influence outreach

Margot Sinclair Savell: The biggest challenge is determining who has influence. Influence is more than the number of friends and followers, or other quantitative metrics. Measuring influencer outreach requires two steps: first we have to make sure we are measuring people who have the ability to change another's opinion or behavior, and, second, we have to measure the results of our outreach to them.

PR News: What can PR pros do to track influencers in their industry, on social media and online in general?

Savell: PR pros can find online influencers in their industry by manual research or by using a vendor tool, and then manually researching the results to determine if these people are contributing to someone changing their opinion or behavior.

PR News: How can a positive relationship with an influencer be measured and presented to the C-suite?

Savell: A case study with quantitative and qualitative analysis could be presented to the C-suite, highlighting business metrics instead of [the] communications metrics that a PR manager or brand manager might be interested in reviewing. 

PR News: What’s one concept/idea you want to leave conference attendees with? 

Savell: Influencers change quickly, therefore lists should be updated monthly, if not weekly.

Hear Savell and measurement experts from brands, such as Thomson Reuters, GM and Allstate Insurance, at PR News' PR Measurement Conference, May 15 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg; Follow Margot Sinclair Savell: @margotsavell