John Della Volpe: Using social media measurement to identify and empower your influencers — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Peter Wiley of

2:05 —'s Don Vanderslice introduces SocialSphere and Harvard's Institute of Politics' John Della Volpe.

2:06 — John: My background comes from three different places: politics, technology, and strategy. I'm going to talk about my experiences in these fields.

2:08 — John: It's not about technology, it's about understanding people, technology, and sociology. In 2003, Howard Dean raised over 20,000,000 dollars overnight via social and changed politics forever.

2:09 — John: Similarly to Dean, Deval Patrick gained 100,000 supporters and went from worst to first without a TV ad. He eventually became governor of Massachusets.

2:10 — John: Through working with my students at the Institute of Politics, I learned a lot about millenials. In 2007, almost half of all millenials would be likely to engage in a campaign if their friend asked them. They make up 25% of our population.

2:12 — John: How can we find the 10% of the population to influence in other realms than politics?

2:13 — John: We need to identify the advocates, empower them, and ask them more. How do we identify? We use an algorithm called ORBIT: onsite engagement (focusing on specific conversations of the thousands of conversations going on total), reach, bias, influence (tweeting, retweeting, linking, etc), topical frequency (how frequently an influencer is sharing).

2:15 — John: Once you identify them, the next thing to do is to engage. Case study with the LA Kings hockey team. Johns' team was tasked with studying four different segments of the population: national hockey fans, local hockey fans, latin music fans, and food trucks.

2:16 — John: Hundreds of people said they became fans of the Kings just because of the engagement on their Twitter account. Empowering users through engagement.

2:17 — John: The Kings had the five highest levels of engagement in all of the NHL. In 17 days, they added 27,000 followers. The key to that was the change of point of view of replying.

2:18 — John: It was about finding the right people to reply to. The Kings campaign was only focused on Twitter, so we can only make inferences in the realm of Twitter.

2:19 — John: What happened to the Kings can also happen in other industries, such as the movie industry.

2:20 — John: We're currently working with the Boston Globe to identify the top week's influencers. There were ‘normal' people flying under the radar that were some of the top political influencers in the state of Massachusetts. We have to be aware of these people that are not typical celebrities.

2:22 — John: How we think about engagement: Every organization ought to do three things. They need to find the top 5 percent of people who are influencers and look for an opportunity to engage with them. They need to be recognized as being influencers. The second thing is to take this list (perhaps 10,000 people or so), and to create targeted campaigns for these heavy influencers. The third thing: when there's a calendar event (e.g. sports event or holiday), to broaden outreach during these times.

2:24 — John: Help the influencers help you.


Q & A

Q: Did you see a difference between the effectiveness of a brand account vs. a personal account (such as an expert).

A: It depends on your engagement strategy. Campaigns have different segments that they're testing, it's important to A-B test to see what is effective for which segment.

Q: About the example regarding movie screenings: what if one of your influencers hated the movie and their response went viral?

A: It happened last week! We try to make sure that the movie has been vetted. But that's what happens, sometimes people don't like it — not everyone is going to like every movie. But in general, it's more strong for an individual to engage with a movie studio.

Q: How many people managed the LA Kings campaign?

A: Two people. Two marketing folks told SocialSphere to watch the segments during games, then during the game whenever someone from a particular segment was engaging with the game, the marketing guys tweeted to them. Sometimes people make mistakes with the tweets to influencers, but that happens.