Corporate Eye

Traackr: Spotting the King-Whisperers

Noon here means nearly breakfast time over in the States…

How heroic, then, of Derek Skaletsky to spend an hour taking us through the Traackr system – before breakfast.

And what an interesting hour it was for us. Traackr – in case you haven’t had the opportunity of a demo yet – launched their Authority List product at DemoFall09.

influencer social webWe all know that people are talking about you and your products online, or at least about your market and their issues with your competitors – or even just complaining about the problem that your product or service is intended to resolve.

Listening to what they’re saying is highly recommended. You can find out what they like/don’t like about you or your products, and about those of your competitors. You can maybe even uncover what the real problem is that they’re trying to solve – and how you can improve your product to meet that need. It’s like having a full-time focus group.

But who are your target audience listening to?

We all also know that some people have more powerful voices than others. These come in a variety of guises: some people are broadcasters, with a wide reach; others are conversationalists, who spark discussion; some are expert commentators on a topic, and seen as authorities in their area; others are connectors, who put topics and people together in an interesting way. Some are just plain mavericks, who touch on a topic briefly and move on to the next. And the different outlets people find to share their views have an effect too – some people have a strong video voice and impact but don’t use the written word; others talk a lot on one network about your topic, but very little on another.

And even the smallest voice can have a big impact online – if it whispers into the right ear.

This is the idea at the heart of the Traackr system.

The origins of the Authority List lie in a tool that was available a few years ago to help people assess their own influence on the internet. I’m sure you know the kind of thing; we’ve almost all played with tools like that to see how we’re perceived. (What, no-one’s even done an ego-search on Google? Not sure I believe you there.)

Then someone had a inspired idea: turn the thing around so that it could identify the people with influence, and sell that information to those who need to know.

That’s you. The business that needs to know what is being said out there, so that they can then connect with those people, and maybe influence them in turn.

Gaining the ear of the king

a word in the ear

This isn’t a new idea: if the customer is king, finding the right online influencers is like dealing with the royal favourites and courtiers, who potentially have influence over the king.

There’s been much debate about how objective online influencers can be when presented with goodies and freebies, so consider carefully your approach to the influencers, and bear in mind that courting the courtiers has always been a complex and sometimes dangerous affair in the cross-currents of a royal court.

But Traackr looks like a good implementation of a solution to make finding the right influencers possible – even easy.

You, the client, set up a project, agree how many influencers you want to identify, and work with the Traackr team to identify relevant keywords. (Not always as easy as it sounds).

The Traackr search engine then finds people who discuss these topics online – and then tracks those individuals across all their other outlets.

This, I think, is the really exciting bit: pulling together all the places where that person has an online presence to provide a unified view on that individual.

When complete, the information is available via an online dashboard. You can see a list of influencers, and a breakdown of type (activist, reporter and expert) and location. Each influencer has a profile page, detailing their latest posts, which social outlets they use, the extent of their network and their score (reach, resonance, and relevance). It’s up to you to make the connection, but you can note on the profile how well the contacts have gone, and what your next steps might be – the beginnings of a relationship management system.

Traackr doesn’t assess the sentiment of their discussions about you/your products, but at this point you know who the key relevant influencers are, and since you’ll need to tailor your contact approach to each influencer, you’ll want to check them out individually yourself anyway. And you do need to know the bad as well as the good news…


Can you track the effect of your contact/s with the influencers? That’s the point of Traackr’s Performance Report, which tracks the changes in coverage from those people from week to week.

Can you change your keywords? Once the report is generated, you get an interface to the Traackr system which lets you run a live search on keywords before setting up a new campaign, to be sure that you’re picking valuable keywords.

Are the influencers self-selected? Only by dint of their own efforts to become influential – the influencers haven’t volunteered to be included. All the material on their profile is publicly available, just not all pulled together in one place like this. As I said: this is the most exciting element of this tool, and Traackr does have plans to provide access to these pages for the influencers, so that they can make use of it too.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to have some idea of sentiment? I think it would, and this isn’t provided by the Authority List. I think you’d like it all: who the key influencers are, whether they are generally positive, negative or neutral about your keywords, and how this view changes over time – and even what triggers the change. Your contact with them, some independent event, a contact with a competitor, a discussion with another key influencer…?

Couldn’t you do this yourself? Well, yes of course you could, though it would be time-consuming. And the Traackr team have found that their system has identified powerful influencers in places it wouldn’t necessarily occur to you to look. You just need a bit of imagination to work out how to approach these unexpected influencers in ways they’d appreciate…

Thanks Derek!

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