Social media and the business of influence










Only people who have been living down a hole with no internet access for the past couple of years can have missed the effect social media now has on what we think and do. Tabloid newspapers base whole articles on celebrity tweets and Twitter wars and here in the North East, The Journal has been running the #NETwitterati campaign to find the region’s most influential social media users.

Influential in social media marketing terms basically means who matters most and if you’re wondering why this is important, well, if you can isolate the really relevant people in your business area, you can target them with your marketing efforts. A few positive words from the right person can be extremely valuable in terms of generating brand awareness, good will, enquiries and even sales (or the very opposite!) – just think about the effect that one retweet from Stephen Fry can have.

The difficulty to date has been how to identify who holds true influence. I’d argue this isn’t simply down to popularity and who has the most followers, or whoever shouts loudest and most frequently – instead this is whoever has a relevant voice in a particular sector and whose authority usually goes beyond social media. Do the proper research and the results can be pretty startling.

I spoke to Adam Parker, whose Gosforth-based company has come up with Lissted – a useful app for marketers to identify the most relevant people they want to target on social media based on real world authority. Tagged as the new ‘superhuman social listening tool’, Lissted allows you to research, create and manage lists, which can be exported directly to Twitter for monitoring and engagement.

Adam said: “Too many online tools claim to help you find influencers using hundreds of complicated signals. Lissted is much simpler and starts with human-moderated lists of the people who really matter to an industry – whether journalists, politicians or brands themselves. From here, its algorithm maps their relationships to other accounts and predicts who they listen to the most.”

The result is a fuller picture of who speaks authoritatively about an industry, not based on 100% internet-defined machine signals but derived from the seeds of a more powerful source: real world relevance.

Need an example of how this can be helpful? Well, Lissted can help identify the people who influence the policy makers so if you’re lobbying for change, you may well decide to target those people initially, knowing that their opinion will be heard by those you’re trying to reach. Very powerful, especially if you can’t get direct access to a minister or decision maker – or they are ambivalent towards your business or sector.

How about you find yourself in the middle of a crisis? Lissted can immediately draw down a list of who is talking about the issue and update this in real time. Speed is always of the essence in this situation so knowing that you are focusing your efforts on the most relevant stakeholders as the news spreads is invaluable.

Different people are recognised as influencers in different industries. Ultimately it’s not how big someone is, it’s what they are saying that counts.

“The big data approach is: listen to everything and then build a powerful machine to try and filter out the noise, with humans then sifting through the results to find the people and conversation they are interested in,” Adam said.

“Our small data approach is fundamentally different. We focus on only listening to people and organisations we know really matter and then listen to who they tell us matters too. We call this recognition not reach. Being recognised in your field suggests that those who matter think you do too, whereas reach suggests simply numbers and popularity.”

Lissted is a subscription app, starting from £149+VAT per month with no tie-in. It’s a great tool to help you target your marketing efforts effectively at the people who really matter and get them on your side. You can find more information at

And who knows, if you’re serious about developing your own social media relevance, you might find yourself Lissted as well – sooner than you think.



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