In social media marketing, we often want to identify social influencers to understand who we need to be interacting with. However, our fellow marketers often obscure the landscape by filling it with marketing and promotion. Do a simple search in the social media monitoring tool of your choice and you’ll likely see 500% more promotion than conversation on public channels.

Here’s an example chart of conversations in social media about Google Analytics, with everything and with marketing messages taken out.

GA with and without marketing.jpg

What a huge difference. Marketing is clogging the airwaves.

Yet when we hear common social media advice, one of the most frequently repeated pieces of advice is to engage, engage, engage with our communities. Top influencers engage often.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know who was actually engaging, versus who was just mindlessly promoting all the time? What if we could dig into just the conversations and exclude the marketers from the party?

This matters more than you think. In a very, very simple word concordance (the counting method that forms the basis for word clouds), take a look at the difference in importance between words marketers use versus words used in non-promotional conversation:

Understanding meaning.jpg

The orange bars are the words that people use in conversation about Google Analytics. The blue bars are what marketers use, most often in promotional content. If you’re trying to reach influencers who engage, but you target your outreach using search terms that are blue bars, who are you going to recruit? Who are you going to reach? You’ll get marketers.

Bad marketing ruins everything.

Luckily, any decent social media monitoring tool should support boolean logic, boolean queries (such as OR, AND, NOT queries) that can help weed out your fellow marketers to identify actual engagement. In the monitoring tool of your choice, build in exclusions for:

  • Links and URLs
  • Sharing requests
  • Shares
  • Appeal language/calls to action

What you’ll be left with are the actual conversations.

For example, the above bar chart was generated with two queries, the first with everything:

(“google analytics” OR “googleanalytics” OR “@googleanalytics”)

and the second, without marketing:

(“google analytics” OR “googleanalytics” OR “@googleanalytics”) NOT (“pls share” OR “RT” OR “http” OR “https” OR “get your” OR “download now” OR “click here” OR “whitepaper” OR “webinar” OR “sign up” OR “subscribe now”)

In short, take all the marketing knowledge you have, all the best practices you’ve collected – and search for the opposite. Remove them. Clean them out. What you’ll be left with is actual conversation.

Apply this to your searches, to your conversational analysis, and most especially to your influencer identification, and you’ll see drastically different results for who is really influential in the industry or topic of your choice.


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