The Protégé Project

Four Tools for Scouting Social Media Leaders

Twitter

By Jennifer Wang

Congratulations. You finally have a handle on the social media thing. Now the real work begins: pinpointing the most powerful people in your online networks and cultivating those relationships into more business wins.

Big brands like beauty retailer Sephora and giffgaff, the U.K.'s fastest-growing mobile network, have called on enterprise social media suite provider Lithium Technologies to help launch and sustain their strong online communities. According to Lithium's principal scientist Michael Wu, a key part of that process is identifying top influencers and turning them into company advocates.

For small businesses with smaller budgets, there happen to be a number of low-cost (or free) social analytics companies--several with targeted business offerings--that provide scores and reports to help you find and engage your network superstars.

Many of them are still works in progress, Wu cautions, with an overemphasis on "bandwidth," or activity and quantity of followers, friends and fans. "Even if you make a lot of noise, you're not guaranteed to be influential," he explains. "But of course the algorithms will get better."

Below, we take a quick look at a few of the most influential influence rankers.

1. Klout
Tagline: The standard for influence

Score: Based on more than 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure "true reach," "amplification probability" and "network influence".

Features: In-depth score analysis; list of most influential followers and their topics of expertise; list of influences; achievements for tweet and retweet benchmarks @barackobama vs. @ladygaga: 88 to 93.

Advantage: Free and arguably the most high profile, Klout has partnerships with foursquare, Google Chrome, The Huffington Post, LinkedIn, Spotify and about.me.

2. Twitalyzer
Tagline: Serious analytics for social business

Score: Measured by 10 criteria: influence, impact, engagement, velocity, generosity, signal, clout, followers, followees and lists.

Features: User-type classification (thought leader, social butterflies, trendsetters, etc.); Twitter integration with view of followers, commonly used hashtags and recent topics; map of location @barackobama vs. @ladygaga: 73.9 to 74.3.

Advantage: Comprehensive data reports (subscriptions start at $4.99 per month) that facilitate geographically targeted outreach efforts and offer a slew of add-on features like weekly e-mail reports and API access.

3. PeerIndex
Tagline: Understand your social capital

Score: Measures a combination of "audience," "authority" and "activity" in eight distinct subject categories (business, politics, sports, news, etc.) across various social media accounts

Features: Breakdown of areas of expertise; list of popular topics, top sources, friends and groups @barackobama vs. @ladygaga: 86 to 82

Advantage: The general scores are free to all, but the "bespoke" paid service can find influencers specific to an industry or community.

4. Traackr
Tagline: Relevance drives influence

Score: Evaluates eight types of media (blogs, reviews, social networks, photos, etc.) to discover users' "reach," "resonance" and "relevance"

Features: Constantly updated report of top 25 influencers; web presence information, including recent posts; user contact info, location and stats; filter capabilities to track certain mentions and conversations; ability to add tags, tasks and notes @barackobama vs. @ladygaga: N/A--no universal score since it's dependent on market or industry context

Advantage: The most established of the bunch, the subscription service (plans are $499 a month and up) helps clients like Honda identify and then engage top influencers relevant to a specific brand, product and campaign

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