With over a billion users on Facebook and hundreds of millions of active users on major social media services such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Quora – companies like PeerIndex and Klout are racing to leverage social media data into valuable marketing information. PeerIndex and Klout -along with several other emerging services- have developed algorithms designed to measure and quantify an individual’s online influence. Whether these metrics provide useful, actionable data to businesses looking to augment their existing CRM systems has been the subject of hot debate.
Why Should You Integrate Social Media Metrics With Your CRM System?
The new wave of social media analytics software scrapes user data across the major social networks to build profiles of a user’s influence. Klout – one of the leaders in measuring social media influence – boasts that they have profiles on over 100 million social media users. Although the exact algorithms used by services like Klout are unknown and differ from service to service, they estimate online influence based on factors such as a user’s number of friends, the level of engagement of a user’s audience measured through responses to online actions, as well as the influence and reach of a user’s engaged audience. Based on these metrics, users are assigned a score designed to reflect their online influence.
By integrating social media metrics with their CRM, businesses can apply this information to maximize customer value. If you’re looking to give away a limited number of products for publicity or reviews, a measure of a user’s online influence may be an invaluable piece of information. And whether you’re outsourcing customer services to a third party or you have an in-house team, being able to identify high level influencers means that you can target them with an added level of customer service. While all customers should be treated well, the ability to direct limited resources – in the form of incentives and customer attention- towards high level influencers can be a tremendous boon to a business. In an age where a handful of powerful influencers can each reach millions of people, identifying even a single high level influencer in your market could potentially allow you to leverage their audience and put you well ahead of your competitors.
Why You Need To Proceed Cautiously
While companies like PeerIndex and Klout offer an interesting and potentially valuable measure of social influence, it’s important to realize that any attempts – especially early attempts – to quantify online data into a measure of real life influence will have innate inaccuracies and context dependence. For example, critics point out that social media scores fail to accurately reflect an individual’s real-life influence. This is illustrated by the fact that President Barack Obama has a lower Klout score than many online bloggers. If a company were to place a single-minded focus on any social media metrics or measures, it could easily result in missed opportunities to target an important influencer whose reach extends beyond the virtual world of social networks.
Another criticism is that any attempt to assign a comprehensive score to an individual’s online influence will lack the context necessary to measure an influencer’s actual value to a business. For example, while celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton may have an incredible reach online, his significant online influence may be of little benefit to a company selling tractor tires. These criticisms are a good reminder that – like with any attempt to interpret data – it’s crucial to keep context in mind. But as these social media measures are refined and the systems are improved, they’ll continue to provide more accurate ways to measure influence with respect to specific markets.
While new social media metrics may provide valuable insight into your customers, as some the critics have pointed out, the data can be misleading if used incorrectly. A Klout or PeerIndex score should never be seen as a quantification of a customer’s value. Rather, it should be seen as one small piece of data – along with dozens of other significant factors – that, when used in the appropriate context, can help estimate a customer’s long-term value. At the end of the day, a Klout or PeerIndex score’s relevance to your business will depend greatly on how you choose to interpret the data, and more importantly – how you apply it to your business.
About the Author: This is a blog post from contributing author David Veibl. David is a start-up guest blogger who posted some articles on accountancy and business before, and now writes for Capita Customer Management, the best customer service company in the UK, offering a wide variety of customer relationship management services for businesses.