The skeptic has always been quick to remind that popularity is not necessarily a measure of value. In a report detailing the most influential authorities on blog marketing, Onalytica, a UK-based analytics firm, illustrates that popularity is not always in line with influence, either.
In marketing, there are as many psychological factors as monetary. A car salesman knows a family’s decision maker is often not the one signing the loan papers. She (yes, she, ask any dealership) holds more sway than the celebrity endorser. While the pro football player has popularity, the wife has influence.
It stands to reason then, that identifying Web-based agenda setters (those who influence) may become a weightier task than measuring buzz. Google recognizes this concept, as Andy Beal recently noted, weighting link quality (reputation of referrers) far above link quantity.
Flemming Madsen, founder of Onalytica, compares the process of measuring influence against popularity to the way academic journals and universities are measured. “It typically means more to any of us to receive the endorsement of someone we regard as an authority in the field than from someone we know hasn’t got a clue,” writes Madsen.
With that mind, Madsen describes his company as one that measures who has influence on issues, markets, and brands. In the past, Onalytica has measured who on the Web has the most influence on company image and brand; who are the most influential authorities on business blogging; as well as other topics like stem cell research.
The most recent report measures influence versus popularity to illustrate the principle that the two measures don’t always go hand in hand. News sources and blogs are assigned a score in both categories.
The Top 20 most influential authorities on the topic “blog marketing,” according to Onalytica:
1. New York Times (the most popular as well)
2. Hyku (the 3rd least popular)
3. Seth Godin
7. Wired News
8. Next Level Biz Tips
10. Search Engine Watch
11. Fast Company
12. Top Rank Results
13. Marketing Sherpa
16. Gaping Void
18. Church of the Customer Blog
19. Twist Image
The analysis also took into account the 20 most popular authorities on blog marketing and to illustrate how the influence level changes the ranking of some publications:
1. NY Times
4. Seth Godin
6. Wired News
9. Search Engine Watch
10. Wall Street Journal
14. Marketing Sherpa
18. Top Rank Results
20. Marketing Profs
Note how the less popular but influential sources on the topic at hand are eliminated from the top 20 list if popularity is measured alone. The Wall Street Journal, ZDNet, BBC, and Forbes, all famous and established business sources are absent from the first list where influence is stressed above popularity.
It is also interesting to note how the Internet can level the playing field in the information industry, putting bloggers and recently established Web-sources on a par with traditional media powerhouses. Measuring popularity and influence is a valuable test for online advertisers and brand managers seeking to maximize their campaigns.
In early 2005, frequent WebProNews contributor and author of the weblog Micropersuasion (nos. 4 and 2 above) wrote of pegging bloggers for product endorsement deals:
Sports marketers have been doing this for years. They identify a personality who they feel resonates with their audience and then pay him or her a nice hunk of change to use their product on the field or court. You could easily do the same thing with a blogger.
The keyword there is “resonates.” It matters more to a certain audience what former Microsoft employee and celebrity blogger Robert Scoble says than, say, Paris Hilton. And Paris’ crowd is less likely to care about what Scoble is talking about.
As with all marketing channels, this is about effectively using a medium to build relationships, whether it is a seller-buyer relationship, an image-audience relationship, or job hunter-employer relationship.
Nurturing that relationship has the same basis as career networking: getting your name out to the right people. While buzz can be effective, it is also fickle and unpredictable, and can turn against you. But the right endorser has words that resonate.
Here’s a great tip-list for blog marketing, contributed last summer by Lee Odden (TopRank Results nos. 12 and 18 above).
About the Author:
Jason is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.