The Rise Of Digital Influence In Marketing

Social network users are rethinking how they connect and communicate to improve their stature within each network; at the same time, brands are using services like Klout and PeerIndex to identify individuals who are connected and relevant, to expand their reach into new media and markets.

The Rise Of Digital Influence In Marketing


About three weeks ago, I celebrated my first anniversary as principal analyst of Altimeter Group. And, it is with great pride that I mark the occasion with the release of my first official Altimeter report, “The Rise of Digital Influence.” Not a traditional market report, it was written as both a primer and a how-to guide for businesses to spark desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence.

We live in a time when social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, et al., not only connect us, they become part of our digital lifestyle. But it’s not just about how these networks help us connect and communicate with others. Whether we know it or not, our social activity now contributes to our stature within each network. New services such as Klout and PeerIndex among many others not only measure who you know, what you say, and what you do, they attempt to score or rank your ability to influence those to whom you’re connected. As a result, social network users are now starting to rethink how they connect and communicate to improve their stature within each network. And at the same time, brands are taking notice, as these services also help organizations identify individuals who are both connected and relevant to help expand reach into new media and markets.

The potential for social influence is enormous on both sides of the equation. Services that rank and identify “influence” open the door to new opportunities for businesses to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with digital tastemakers and authorities. Brands extend their reach into new networks and consumers earn recognition and reward for their online status. These new paradigms also present a number of unforeseen challenges as businesses and digital consumers alike come to grips with what influence is and isn’t.

Figure 1. Framework: Pillars of Influence

“The Rise of Digital Influence” takes a deep dive into digital influence. It explores the emerging landscape for digital influence to provide businesses with a lens into how it’s earned and spent in social networks. Additionally, the report lays out an Influence Framework and an Influence Action Plan to identify connected consumers and to define and measure digital influence initiatives using an included step-by-step process. Through examples and a review of the digital influence tools available, businesses will possess a stronger grasp of how to develop effective engagement strategies and supporting processes.

Stephanie Agresta, EVP, Managing Director of Social Media, Weber Shandwick, leads one of the newly created roles emerging to help businesses better understand the world of digital influence. “Influence is much more than a score,” she says. “This is about reaching people not just because they’re connected, but because they serve a role within their online community. It’s up to brand managers, marketers, and communications professionals to use influence tools to learn more about the social landscapes and the people who affect their markets. As the findings here point out, brands cannot think episodically about influence or influencers. This is not a campaign based discipline. While tools are helpful, the practice of IRM (Influencer Relationship Management) is about ongoing engagement and community building. Today, that can happen at scale.”


“The Rise of Digital Influence” includes qualitative reviews of 14 influence vendors and also insights from domain experts including: 

– David Armano, Executive Vice President, Global Innovation & Integration, Edelman Digital,

– Dr. Bernardo A. Huberman, Director, Social Computing Lab, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories

– Molly O’Donnell, Director of Influencer Marketing for Windows Phone, Microsoft

– danah boyd, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research; Research Assistant Professor, NYU

Not only does it help you explore the emerging landscape for digital influence, it finally explains how it’s earned and spent in social networks. 


Download the report…

About the author

Brian Solis is the author of The End of Business as Usual, a book that explores the changing consumer landscape, its impact on business, and what companies can do to adapt and lead. His previous book Engage is regarded as the industry reference guide for developing effective social business and social media strategies.