Post-SXSWi, I've recovered and even dug out a bit. There's still a metric ton of content I want to post. But I will point you to some posts I wrote as a contributor to The Cincinnati Enquirer's SXSW blog during the event.
During the melee in Austin, David Binkowski, Krista Neher, Saul Colt and I sat on a panel to discuss the topic of influence. Below is the director's cut of slides. We did not get through all of them, so I added a few as well as some links for reference in the speaker notes. I went long in the Slideshare version as we addressed some of the questions folks were asking on Twitter. We just ran out of time before we could answer them.
In discussing what Influence is NOT, we got into celebrity influence. This brought up everyone from Charlie Sheen (popular vs. influential), Ashton Kutcher (broad/absolute influence) and Kenneth Cole (did his errant tweet have a positive impact?), to Klout (one site can't do all the work), Chrysler (a missed opportunity for the brand to be human) and Kim Kardashian (relative influence with a specific group).
Fast Company Throws Down
One reason we ran long was a special, unexpected guest. Fast Company Senior Editor Mark Borden discussed the panel singling out the Fast Company Influencer Project in our session description. "Influence 'experiments' like Fast Company's project do more harm than good when it comes to defining and measuring influence." Borden's point is that the project was test and learn...and Fast Company did learn from it. Good point. And in hindsight the fact that we didn't ask Mark to sit on our panel is a miss. We're glad he stopped in.
But we stand by our comment. I have more of an issue with social voting projects as a whole. As I've said here previously "When we ask consumers to vote, generate content, watch a video or otherwise, we need to ask if we're merely creating a transaction to generate a metric. And if the answer is not clear, well, it probably is clear.
Social efforts like voting campaigns can be executed well and can have an impact. They can also do nothing more than preserve one-way communication between a brand and a consumer. We tend to over think this to achieve an easily-generated quantitative metric."
Recaps, Cases & Tweets
In addition to what we did talk about, one case study I wanted to discuss focused on how to find influencers. A team of folks at my employer used a process we have in place to create a blogger outreach list. It was trained on the top 20 influencers discussing DIY, home design/improvement projects. You can see more in the slides on how the list was created and the impact it ultimately had on the results.
We got some great questions and some great feedback from attendees. You can get some more back story from the discussion via our Twitter transcript if you want to dig. Or check out recaps from Christophe Jammet and Kellye Crane. I'm also looking forward to doing a point/counterpoint on "Content is King" with Bazaarvoice's Ian Greenleigh in the near future.
"Instead of counting the people who reach, reach the people who count
My colleague's quote helps me conclude this post. There's no silver bullet, automagic shortcuts for finding influencers. While we'd (always) love better data to measure at a more exact level -- to identify different influencers at different points in a consumer's brand interactions for example -- it's a mix of qualitative and quantitative measures.
Key influencers are more than likely different for each situation/brand/project. Tie it all back to business goals and you'll be able to focus your efforts if nothing else.