Influence has risen as one of the topics of the times. With Empire Avenue, Klout and others gaining attention and significance for their promises of determining just how much sway an individual has on the thoughts and opinions of others, the right way to determine influence will be a topic of conversation for some time to come.
Size is Not Strength
Traditional media has given us a mass mindset. The value of a platform is in the number of consumers it can potentially reach, but when it comes to measuring influence value isn't that superficial.
The power of an influencer isn't the number of people he or she reaches (although, it may be part of it). It's more his or her ability to have weight when it comes to a consumer's decisions. Influence is a combination of specialization and trust, which most of the platforms and individuals with mass reach don't have.
Tap the Specialists
It's a bit of mind shift, but focusing on specialists within a vertical who have prioritized earning trust over mass numbers is how marketers can win.
The issue is that this isn't as easy as taking a look at the numbers. We must join communities and be a part of them to identify the big players and why a brand's message might be relevant to them. This is an analysis with the brain, not an algorithm because the right fit is rarely at the surface.
Tools are simply that, resources that allow us to complete a task, but they aren't the answer. Language is too complicated, and the nuances are endless. Influence is far too complicated to be taken at face value.
Know your audience, how they gather information and the communities they're a part of. Then it's a matter of identifying those community thought leaders who have the unique ability to talk and have others listen.
They may not be massive in reach, but they have power with those that matter. What they lack in numbers, they make up for in power over the hearts and minds of potential customers.