Ari Osur: Avoid Relying Solely On “Canned” Scores For Influencer Targeting — But Don’t Write Them Off Either

Ari Osur of Forrester has just posted this on the Forrester site:

Influencer marketing is on my mind these days. In addition to working on a report about how interactive marketers should collaborate with different resources to execute influencer marketing, I’m also speaking about the topic at Forrester’s Consumer Forum in Chicago later this month.

Talking with marketers, agencies, and service providers, everyone (yes, it’s been everyone) has voiced opinions about “canned,” algorithm-based influence scores available through providers like Klout and PeerIndex. Detractors say that black-box influence scores focus too much on reach and not enough on context or topics, and that influencer identification is too complex to boil down using an opaque calculation. For example, Charlie Sheen may look like a valuable influencer based on his high Klout score, but a marketer of diapers would probably prefer to tap a mommy blogger with a lower top-line score to advocate its brand.

The supporters’ rebuttal: why would you use these scores in a vacuum in the first place?  The score providers themselves dissuade marketers from looking only at an individual’s top-line number with no filters for topic or brand relevancy – and those filters are available. Count me in this camp.

So how should interactive marketers regard off-the-shelf influence scores?  Keep in mind that:

  • These scoring systems are evolving. Companies like Klout and PeerIndex are in their early stages and certainly do have their limitations. But their capabilities to mine scores for topic, category, and brand influence continue to improve.
  • Off-the-shelf influence scores can be helpful inputs. The scoring providers have made strong advancements in how they understand and define influence. The scores can serve as components of a larger identification process and also help marketers looking to scale their influencer programs.
  • There is no “easy button.”  Influencer marketing is complicated and requires collaboration with different roles within your organization.  Don’t rely solely on off-the-shelf scores as a short-cut for identifying and segmenting influencers.  Instead, work closely with your customer intelligence, PR, and other colleagues to discover and target influencers.

Originally published 03 October 2011 on Ari Osur’s Forrester blog