Blogs have a long history of development, it all began way back in 1994 when Justin Hall, a Swarthmore College student created Links.net, the first generally recognized blog. Although, it was only in 1999 when the term “blog” was officially used. And 5 years later, the Merriam-Webster officially recognized it and made it their word of the year.
A list by Jesse James Garrett, states that there were only 23 blogs on the internet back in 1999. By 2006, the number skyrocketed to 50 million blogs, and by the end of 2010, there were already 152 million active blogs in the internet. And with the rise of microblogging and development of other blogging platforms, these numbers are expected to grow even more.
This exponential growth in number was also coupled by the development of bloggers. From people who write their day-to-day lives on their personal blogs, bloggers have evolved into authorities in the subjects they blog about. They have grown to command influence over their readers/viewers, making them effective marketers and an integral part of the online culture.
Influence is the “implicit or explicit effect of one thing or a person on another”. In the online world, influence is can be the power of ‘someone’, usually a blogger or vlogger, to make other people think or do something through their words, videos, and other online contents.
Why does online influence matter for a blogger?
Online Influence is one of the huge determinant of a blog/blogger’s worth. This is a very important factor to consider especially when you want to make your blog get noticed by businesses and make money out of your contents.
For businesses, blogs which commands higher online influence means a better channel and strategy to make their brand more visible. As a result, their business will reach a greater number of relevant audience and the probability of getting bigger revenues is higher.
On a personal level, higher online influence can be a sign of having advanced digital skills and the capability to create relevant and interesting content.
How to be influential?
Building influence can be really hard considering the number of active bloggers there are now and how others are known to spread false information making readers more suspicious of the contents they see online.
Mashable presents this equation to better understand what it takes to be influential online.
Influence = Personal Brand x Trust x Expertise
Since, Expertise = Knowledge x Trust
This gives us:
Influence = Personal Brand x Knowledge x Trust2
This highlights the importance of trust in building influence, which is true since trust is what keeps a reader coming back to your site and it is what compels them to follow the things you suggest.
How to measure online influence?
A few years ago, we only consider a few things to determine a bloggers influence – the number of page views their page get, the number of followers they have on Twitter, or the number of likes they have on Facebook. Nowadays, there are actually a lot of ways developed to measure a bloggers influence.
They can be a little confusing especially when you are new in the blogging sphere or have no strong background on this subject. To make things clearer and more comprehensive, we will break down the categories into three: Website metrics, Social media clout, and the Intangibles. In addition, tools and programs used to measure the factors in these categories are also discussed.
A. Website Metrics
Website metrics is the measure of a website’s performance in terms of readership, search relevance, content, etc. Not to mention, this is also the most important among the three categories. When we talk about website metrics, it goes beyond the number of unique monthly visits. There are more factors to consider when it comes to measuring website metrics;
1.) Traffic volume
Traffic volume is simply the accumulated number of views of all the blogposts you have on your blog in a specific period of time (usually measured monthly). However this should not to be confused with unique page views which quantifies the number of unique visitors.
However, the problem when we solely base influence on traffic volume alone is that the traffic stats may come from a single post only and worse, it’s not even a recent one or is not related to the main niche of the blog.
2.) Content Engagement
Content engagement can include the number of visits from a particular location, the number of shares on social media channels, time spent on site, and bounce rate. These are all important metrics of content engagement.
Hotlinks are links that links back to your site posted by other blogs. Unlike other metrics, high quantity of hotlinks does not always necessarily mean a good thing. An important factor to consider is the amount of hotlinks the blog that linked back to you has. In other words, a single hotlink to your blog from an influential blog with a hundred of incoming links is better than a hundred of hotlinks from blogs which no one links to.
4.) Search rank
Page ranking shows how optimized your page is for specific keywords or search terms. Being on the first or second page of the results page for a keyword relevant to the topic of your blog can suggest that your blog is highly influential.
There are a number of tools which can be used to measure a blogs website metrics;
1.) Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google. It tracks and gives report about the website traffic of a site. It is the most common and widely used analytics service on the internet. It is also now integrated with Google AdWords which enables users review their online campaigns. However, the only downside with Google Analytics right now is its inability to update real time, but sources say that a real-time version is now on beta-testing.
2.) Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer is a website analytics service provided by Moz. If you’re not familiar, Moz is founded by Rand Fishkin, one of today’s top online marketing strategist. Moz’s OSE provides a wide range of feature from custom searches by search engine, city, region, or country. You can also access and compare link metrics across pages and asses authority scores.
3.) Spring Metrics
The good thing about Spring Metrics is its simplicity and comprehensibility. It gives a real-time conversion analytics, keyword analytics, landing page analysis, and many more. Its advantage over Google Analytics is its ability to track a visitor’s path from the keyword they used to land in your page to the time they left.
Outbrain provides a rating widget which collects scoring data. It has a sidebar widget which lists your top posts based on the collected data.
PostRank provides overview of the general importance of a bloggers specific posts by taking several metrics. Their widget surfaces those top posts based on their engagement metrics. Those metrics are derived from services such as Digg, Delicious, and Twitter.
B. Social Media Influence
When talking about social media influence of bloggers, the best method is to track their engagement, reach, leads, conversions, etc. Data like shares, comments, likes, and followers are also useful I tracking a blogger’s popularity and influence. But to make this simple, let us focus on the three main R’s in determining a blogger’s social media influence;
When we talk about reach, we talk about numbers. How many followers or likes does this blogger have? How many like does his/her Facebook page have? Although these numbers does not exclusively correlate to a blogger’s influence, having a larger number of followers or likers is a good indication of wielding influence.
A blogger’s resonance is the potential level of engagement a blogger can create with a reader/viewer. The higher the resonance or engagement created, the more influential the blogger is.
A blogger might have a lot of likers or followers, but is his/her content or niche relevant to majority of those? Relevance goes together with resonance since you cannot get your audience to engage if he/she thinks that your content as a blogger is irrelevant to them.
When it comes to measuring social media influence, there are countless tools available right now, but for this one, we will focus on the most relevant and widely used ones.
A Klout Score is any number from 1 to 100 that indicates a person’s social media influence – the higher the Klout Score, the higher the influence. It is calculated based on reach and resonance of a blogger to the audience. It is one of the most straightforward ways but it does not provide any other analytics or statistics to justify the score.
2.) Hootsuite Insights
Hootsuite Insights does not base the level of influence exclusively on the number of followers or likes a blogger have. It can determine the influence of a blogger on a specific search term or topic. This can be used to connect to find influential bloggers to connect to base on your niche.
Kred is very similar to Klout, it provides a score of your social media account based influence and outreach. Influence is determined by the amount of replies, mentions, and retweets sent to you. Outreach on the other hand, are the replies, mentions, and retweets made by you. It can also give a map to show where a bloggers social media influence on different parts of the region.
PeerIndex provides a score based on how active a blogger is on their social media accounts, how often does other users engage with them, and how influential their followers are. The app also provides the ability to search influential followers in the same field as you by keywords or hashtags, and filter by geolocation.
Klear, previously Twtrland, measures social media influence of a blogger based on the statistics of their social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). It is an influencer marketing platform which can show which field a blogger is influential on, overview of their top content, and other influential bloggers they have in their network.
1.) Voice of the content
The way a blogger delivers his/her content very important. A blogger might have a ton of social media followers or their blog might generate a lot of traffic, but all of this does not matter when their contents sounds like they have no idea of what they are talking about.
As mentioned above, trust is vital to building influence. Thus, a blog needs to align its content to the type of voice that would command respect from its target audience.
2.) Real world engagements
Nowadays, bloggers are frequently invited to a lot of product launches, press events, and other important social and corporate events. Some of them are even invited to speak in forums, workshops, and in lectures. These real world engagements cannot be measured by numbers or analytics but they can indicate how influential a blogger can be.
D. Hirsch Index/ h-index
The h-index as a measure for online influence of bloggers was just recently suggested and studied in 2014. The study was published in Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing Journal and showed promising result.
H-index is originally used to measure the impact factor and productivity of a published of a published work by a scholar or scientist. In other words, it can be a measure of how popular a scientific paper or study is.
As of the moment however, there are no tools available yet utilizing the principle of h-index in measuring the influence of online bloggers. But since it was able to show promising result, we may be able to see new analytics tool in no time utilizing this method.
A blogger’s influence goes beyond numbers, it is a result of the collective efforts and attention to quality they put into building their blog and personal brand. It is a reflection of their expertise on their particular field, and a manifestation of the trust their reader and viewers put into the words they write and speak.