When it comes to teaching social media, one of my goals this academic year is to continue to improve and update my focus on using social media software such as listening, analytics and metrics tools.
One area where tools can help us is the search for identifying digital influencers.
I require my students to research potential digital influencers for the primary audience in our topic focus (our primary audience is current and potential students of our department).
In my Comm 322 Social Media class, I’ve been talking about these concepts for several years. But, unfortunately, many of the tools for identifying influencers that my class has used in the past, such as Topsy, no longer exist.
I recently discovered 2 free add-ons to Hootsuite that I incorporated into the class this year in an effort to help students identify key influencers. I’d like to share them with you.
Because my students all participate in Hootsuite Academy, they all already have Hootsuite accounts and are learning how to use it for social media listening.
Installing these add-ons is easy.
Here are 3 quick things you can do within Hootsuite to identify potential influencers.
- Search By Follower Count
But before we talk about those, students can also quickly filter an existing stream in Hootsuite by the # of followers. You used to be able to filter by Klout score. But, that option is no longer available (Not to worry – I’ll show you how to search for influencer score with one of our add-ons).
Simply select a stream in Hootsuite. In the below example, I’ve selected my tab which displays my “academia” Twitter list. I simply click the magnifying lens. Then, from the drop-down menu i select “followers” and use the scroll bar to select the total amount.
Simply relying on follower count is of course flawed. We know that the total number of followers one has does not correspond to the influence one has nor the engagement that an account receives. So it is a crude metric. But a starting point.
A good read on digital influence is Brian Solis’ 2012 article: “The Pillars of Influence.” I discuss these with my class.
2. Finding Influencers with Right Relevance
Let’s expand beyond those people we’re already following on Twitter and try to find others who might be influencing the conversation about a particular topic.
One tool to do this is the Right Relevance add-on for Hootsuite.
You can find it here: http://appdirectory.hootsuite.com/178/right-relevance
This is the free version. There is also a paid pro version.
With this tool installed in Hootsuite, you can create a new tab for your Right Relevance search. Simply search topics to find influential accounts, profiles, and articles. In class, we searched different music genres, for example. But in the below GIF, I search lacrosse. And it turns out that Inside Lacrosse is a top influencer.
And, I can see their score. It isn’t a Klout score. It is Right Relevance’s score based on their influence in that particular topic. So, Inside Lacrosse gets a score of 98/100 for their influence on the lacrosse conversation.
Altogether, it is a quick tool for finding accounts and articles related to particular topics.
Note that the above search can also be done directly from the Right Relevance website for free as well. Here’s a lacrosse search on Right Relevance.
3. Assessing a Potential Influencer
The last tool we’ll look at is Riffle. It can be added to Hootsuite here: http://appdirectory.hootsuite.com/88/riffle-twitter-insights
Let’s say you know of a Twitter account that you identified through the means above and you want to do a little research on it. Maybe you want to see the Klout score. Riffle lets you do this and more.
Let’s use Kim Kardashian as our example – which is the person my students asked me to search when I showed them this tool in class.
You can quickly see Kardashian’s Klout score of 89, her top Tweets, hashtags, accounts mentioned, URLs shared and more. You can see the % of Tweets she sends to RTs (it is hidden in the below image but if you mouse over the green / purple section about 1/2 way down). You can see the # of Tweets per day and how those Tweets are sent – via Buffer, Twitter for iPhone and web client here.
Here I conduct a search for our department’s social media account, @ShepComm.
Taken together, our first two tools (sorting by follower count, and Right Relevance) enable you to search for and identify potential influencers in a topic area. Then, you can quickly see info about the potential influencer with Riffle.
While certainly not all encompassing, these tools give you a start. And they are easy and quick tools that you can incorporate into your class to help students begin searching for, identifying, and thinking about what makes someone a potential influencer.
It is important that any conversation about in class isn’t simply focused on showing students tools. You must augment any tool with readings (there are plenty of articles online and in books about digital influence) and an in depth conversation about digital influencers, what makes for influence and what doesn’t (e.g., reach, resonance, relevance) , the pros and cons of working with them, etc. Getting students thinking critically about these concepts is important.
I’d love to hear what tools you are using in your class to teach digital influence and how you are talking about it and/or what readings you are assigning. Please feel free to share them with me via the comments in this blog post or via Tweeting me @mjkushin.
Note: If you’d like to know how I made the above GIFs, please see my earlier post on micro-screencasting for educators.