As I understand it what Dr Michael Wu saying in his most recent blog is that using social network analysis (SNA) to find the right influencers to influence target users’ purchasing decisions (bearing in mind the value of the targets’ first online activity around a product as the indicator when to start the persuasion process) relies on the finding the right type of influencer – which is not the one with the most friends as the connection, or with the most discussions around a product, but the one with the most recent discussions about the product: relationship + product discussion + timely = best chance of success.
What this strongly reminds me of is my own blog post (‘Greg is one way to make money out of social media’) about how communities managers can potentially play a role as influencers if done properly:
What I want to say for the benefit of companies trying to see how to make money from using social media in the marketplace is to see your own community manager if you have one, and other partner’s community managers, as influencers in their own right.
I pretty sure I’m not breaking any ethical code by saying that, after all your community manager isn’t just going to start spamming the community with product messages – that wouldn’t work. Quiet the contrary, what I’m talking about is the subtle, patient task of persuading members of a community of the value of a particular offering – which requires both intelligence & integrity.
Now after reading the latest piece from Dr Wu, this suggests to me is two things. Firstly that your community manager using SNA tools for large communities, or their inside knowledge coupled with community anayltics for smaller ones, can ‘lead the charge’ to find these right influencers.
Secondly it suggests that they themselves take on this role indirectly by nurturing debates around certain products, nurturing influencers who command attention, and then helping them reach the right users at the right time.
This avoids them directly playing the role of influencer as such, but does give them the power of delivering this tool as a means of creating revenue which has long been the holy grail of community management.
Practically realizing that tool is a combination of the SNA/analytics, plus consultancy work with the community manager to help deliver this.