Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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March 23, 2012

Exploring the issue of digital influence: Great research + report for PR researchers and practitioners

Digital influence is a key topic for many public relations professionals and researchers to explore in their business practices and how it impacts the level of credibility, trustworthiness, and perception of the client among key stakeholders.

Brian Solis recently published his report for Altimeter about this very subject and came away with some interesting pillars and variables to consider when looking at digital influence.  Some of the variables include resonance, reach, and relevance.  Within each of these three pillars of digital influence are several subcategory variables that are associated with the conceptualization of these main categories.

This is very useful to see how Solis and his team are defining each of these terms and the possibilities to use these in research projects.  In addition, the review of case studies and list of measurement tools for influence given near the end of the report is very helpful – especially for researchers and professors who are discussing social media in the classroom – definitely great resources here.  You can download the paper directly from Slideshare.

I believe that Solis and the fellow professionals and researchers who were part of this report were right on when it comes to the understanding of how digital influence is about having a similar connection with their audiences.  It would be interesting to explore if influence is indeed different if it is appearing across platforms and is there a universal formula or a set of best practices to initiate a comprehensive digital influence among audiences.  In addition, most of these conversations and discussions we are seeing with influence on social media are among corporations and brands.  What about other entities like agencies?  Does this also apply with individuals as well?  I would be interested in exploring this and determining if this is truly the case. :)

In addition, the report also acknowledges some of the growing issues with measuring influence with sites like Klout, PeerIndex, and other services is definitely a point for brands, companies, and researchers to take into consideration.  What is the difference between a Klout Score and one that appears on TweetLevel from Edelman?

Along with measuring influence – we have to take into consideration the different perceptions of what constitutes as being influential not only by the content, but also by the personality characteristics that are associated with the source of the information, the media channel being used, and the influence of culture and language into the equation.  Last point – we have to also look at the context of the situation being looked at when it comes to influence.  Is it for the long term or for how a brand deals with a crisis?  We need to further explore how influence is determined not just from positive scenarios, but we have an opportunity to test to see if there are certain fine tuned situations that need to be explored related to other potential situations like a crisis, natural disaster, and emergency to name a few.

In summary, the issue of digital influence will continue to be researched and discussed in both the professional and academic world.  Solis and the team from Altimeter have shared a very comprehensive report on the issue to stimulate this topic in these various circles while also providing a wealth of information and resources.

As technology grows, some things will continue to be the same, but some behaviors and perceptions may evolve. We just have to wait and see what happens next.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,


March 18, 2012

Cutting edge research and projects studying credibility & message strategies via Twitter: Microsoft Twitter Study & Project EPIC

The level of perceived credibility and trustworthiness on social media is becoming one topic of research currently being discussed in 2012.  Articles and books like Return on Influence by Mark Schaefer have been written discussing this very issue related to determining and measuring influence on social media. Researchers and practitioners have discussed what are some of the possible attributes that are part of the influential equation that seems to make some organizations and individuals powerful and credible above others.  I had worked on a research project along with some of my colleagues about the role personality played in determine influence among SMIs.

I would like to highlight two research projects and studies that have really put this topic in the minds of a lot of social media professionals, particularly crisis communicators.  The first is the recent study produced by Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon that looks at how to make your tweet updates more credible and trustworthy.  Mashable had a great overview post discussing the research and the main findings that the researchers found.  Several characteristics that were mentioned were the fact that individuals that had a URL, a profile picture, and the author is retweeted and mentioned are just some of the factors that came up in this particular study.

The other project comes from the University of Colorado called Project EPIC, which is a program and initiative to provide information about a crisis to the public.  This is exactly what people want in a crisis situation – a centralized location where they can get a range of information about a particular event.  What is also great about what the Project EPIC is the fact that they provide a guideline and feature called Tweak the Tweet on how to communicate and tag your tweets appropriately on Twitter for emergency managers and others to monitor. This feature allows users to be informed of how to use specific tags to get help, state where they are in terms of location (city, neighborhood, state, etc), and what information they can provide (ex. tree down, power out, flood, etc).  This is a wonderful tool for both crisis communicators and community residents to have as a resource.

For crisis communicators, this is invaluable information to determine how we can strategically frame our updates appearing on this particular social media platform to be effective in reaching our audiences and be perceived as a credible source.  However, while I think that these are important characteristics to consider – I do believe that the credibility and trustworthiness of the source comes before an incident hits.  Plus, it all depends on the situation that is at the focus of the view of whether or not a source is credible or not.  So, consistency of content and follower interaction along with subject matter expertise are other attributes that should be explored further in the lines of determining influence via social media.  Education and awareness of the features of Project EPIC need to be shared across communities before a crisis occurs – we have to make sure that people are aware of this site and make sure that they have the understanding and information needed to be able to accomplish the task of writing tweets to appear in the appropriate format with the tagged information.

One thing to take into consideration for both of these research projects is the fact that both focused on Twitter – and each social media platform has their own equation to who is influential or credible on the site. Each platform has a specific audience they are reaching – some are larger than others – but this also has to be taken into consideration.  I believe that there are variations of influence levels for each social media platform site – and the key that organizations may want to consider looking at is see what is their range of influence across social media platforms and determine what message strategies they need to adapt and frame particularly for the social media platform in question.  We need to further explore other tools that would be helpful like both of these projects for other platforms and continue to discuss this growing issue in the professional and research community within public relations and crisis communications.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,


February 29, 2012

Got Influence on Pinterest? New services calculate influentials on new visual social bookmarking site

The question that a lot of marketers have when they are looking at potential audience members on the new social bookmarking site Pinterest is – do you have influence on this particular site.  I was surprised to see that Klout has basically every other social media platform out there to be included into their calculations, but they have not yet integrated Pinterest into their influence calculation service.  Well, there is one site that has gotten here first, and this is PinClout.

What exactly is PinClout?  Well, it look at discovering who does have the most repines, likes, and comments on their various assigned boards based on topic or issue they are sharing and uploading content to.  It basically looks at the network analysis of when you upload or share new content whether that creates more interest, sharing, or conversations among your followers.

It is interesting to see what your PinClout score and see what are some of the deciding factors for the calculation of this score.  The score that I got for the site was 38 – and the only thing that I would have liked to have seen would have been a breakdown to what is considered to be influential or not.

In addition, I would have liked to have seen a breakdown based on the topics being shared and repined.  For example, Klout does allow you to be able to determine what topics you are influential in (ex. PR, Social Media, Louisville, etc) – why can’t the same features be applied to Pinterest?  There are going to be some users that are going to be influential across the board (ex. brand names like HGTV or Whole Foods) whereas there may be others that are influential based on one topic or feature.

However, this is not the only site that is calculating influence on Pinterest.  Pinpuff is also another site that has done this for Pinterest that was actually started up by a 20 year old. What Pinpuff does differently is that it not only gives you an influential score, but breaks it down to you on how much your pins are worth financially.  They also have a breakdown on the overall score you have on the site based on a 0-40, 40-70, or 70+ range.

There are several ways that both of these sites can improve and continue to grow their presence in this particular influence measurement and evaluation market for new media.  First, I think that the inclusion of influential board calculations within Pinterest would be very insightful.  Second, I think that this also brings up an interesting point about exploring the role of influence on social bookmarking sites – is this similar or different from FB, Twitter, or even YouTube?  What are some of the characteristics and attributes that people look at when they determine who to follow and repin their items that they upload on Pinterest?  Is this due to the content or the user uploading the information? So many questions and research opportunities here. :)

Lastly, I think that it would be good to have the ability to track the level of influence and provide some good analytics and data to review.  Insights into main sites people are sharing and repining information from, time and day of the week people are actively posting and sharing information, and network analysis of how one pin has been shared across many followers (similar to some of the applications that have been used on Twitter).  There are many possibilities to do some great research and analysis if we had some of these findings when looking at influence on Pinterest.

In summary, influence will continue to have a strong presence on new media platforms, including Pinterest.  These two start ups are approaching it proactively – but it will be interesting to see when powerhouse Klout comes into this particular arena.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,



November 2, 2011

readings in social media and pr for November 2nd 2011

Friends at this year's Halloween Party. I was dressed up as 'Boo' from Monster's Incorporated

Here are my readings for today:

“Social networks are an information gateway that allow people to share and connect in ways that were never previously possible. They can also be a pretty clever way to rob your neighbors. Burglars are starting to realize the criminal possibilities of social media. For example, Foursquare or Facebook can show when somebody is away from their home or traveling for the weekend. What better time to ransack when your victim is in Aruba? Credit Sesame, a personal finance tool and website, conducted a survey of 50 ex-burglars in the UK Nearly 80% of them said they had used Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to target which properties to rob. Another 73% said they used Google Street View to scope out neighborhoods ahead of time.”

“This week, my firm received possibly the worst job query I’ve ever seen. That’s saying a lot, given the stacks of résumés and letters sent to our firm each year. Given the tight job market and need for skilled workers in our field, this applicant sets the bar for how not to conduct a job search and sell yourself. Here’s the letter, with some details excised to protect the applicant. All misspellings and missing words are preserved:

‘I am a student from XXX State University I plan on graduating this spring and was very interested in applying at your firm. My major is public but I have had experience in advertisement, campaign management, and social media. I will of course sent you a portfolio and resume upon my graduation I just find it appropriate to contact you early. I extremely respect your business and I feel I have the ability to add to your already sterling reputation.
Thank You
Sent from my iPhone'”

“Since launching a program to put products in the hands of influencers a year and a half ago, Klout has done more than 100 deals with brands such as Starbucks, Audi, Secret and Microsoft. And now it’s ramping up the program, its main revenue stream for which it charges between five and six figures per program — it did 25 deals in September alone. “

““There are so many conversations taking place about careers, leadership and management that it’s hard to decide which one to be a part of.”   I hear this from people all of the time; especially those out of work who just don’t know what to believe or which voices to follow.   As we transition from a centralized to decentralized workplace, one thing is certain: you must be actively involved with conversations that will advance your career and your influence.   In today’s economy, influence is the new job currency and without it you are now more vulnerable than ever.”


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