September 16, 2013

Twtrland: Find the top influencers in your sector

twtrland
Some of the social analytics firepower that Twtrland provides.

Tool puts 60,000 topic experts at your fingertips

Target audience: Businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, social enterprises, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaOne of the most common questions we’ve received at Socialmedia.biz over the years is this: How do I find the influencers in my space?

It’s an important question — one that shows an awareness that the rules of digital marketing have changed. Today it’s less about blasting out your message and more about convening a conversation about your latest product, service or cause. But who do you invite into the conversation?

There are lots of new tricks up a digital marketer’s sleeve these days. Those just starting to get a handle on the influence landscape would do well by creating several Twitter lists. Make some of them public — who doesn’t like being called an expert in their field? — and some of them private, for your own eyes only. That way, you can follow hundreds or thousands of people and just ignore the firehose by focusing instead on the streams containing influencers’ tweets.

Being strategic beats being random, hands down.

Twtrland has managed to compile groupings of influencers in 60,000 topic areas, from sustainable agriculture to user experience, based on both machine and human intelligence

If you have even a modest budget, I suggest trying out some of the slick new social customer relationship platforms — such as Nimble, Zoho CRM, Sugar, Insightly, Avidian Prophet — which we wrote about in 5 top CRM tools for small business, alongside other favorites of ours like Sprout Social, Zuberance and SocialBro.

If you’re planning a serious marketing campaign, you may want to step up to a more advanced solution to find and engage with influencers in your space, such as Marketo, Lithium, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Social Toaster (which I wrote about here) or dozens of other choices. Social CRM platforms differ in their offerings, but they’ve matured to the point where they really offer a lot of value. (Please tell me you’re not just using an Excel spreadsheet!)

Whether or not you use one of these platforms to engage with your community, two relatively new tools have emerged to help make finding influencers a whole lot easier. One is Little Bird, still in beta, which I wrote about in May and still use.

The other, which I’ve become enamored with in recent weeks, is Twtrland, which bills itself as a social intelligence tool. More than 2 million people visit the site each month; it’s a Web platform, so no app yet.

Twtrland: Get insights, reach influencers, discover trends

Guy Avigdor

Guy Avigdor: “People use us for influencer marketing, to write blog posts, to generate sales leads, for community management — for any form of social media marketing.”

A few days ago Twtrland rolled out a new dashboard for businesses, which provides a new business emphasis on its offering. (Click “start free trial” to check it out for free for seven days.)

Guy Avigdor, co-founder and vice president of business development at Twtrland, gave me a run-through of the service. Twtrland has always billed itself as “a simple way to get insights about your social presence, reach influencers and discover market trends,” but its new features make it even more business-friendly.

Debuting in April 2011 and headquartered in Haifa, Israel, with an office opening soon in New York, Twtrland’s eight-person team has managed to compile groupings of influencers in 60,000 topic areas, from sustainable agriculture to user experience to almost anything you can think of. Through a combination of machine intelligence and human indexing, they identify influencers not based on, say, the description in their Twitter profiles but based on the content they actually produce.

What Twtrland offers, in a word, is context for your Twitter routine, giving you data about which Twitter users are most worth following. As I always advise in my social media webinars, you need to find your top influences and schmooze them up!

Who uses Twtrland? “People use us for influencer marketing, to write blog posts, to generate sales leads, for community management — for any form of social media marketing,” Avigdor said.

The basic service is free, with Pro accounts generally running from $20 to $100 a month, though the company does a subpar job displaying pricing options. Take the free seven-day test drive and decide what’s right for you.

A rich trove of social analytics

Here’s how Twtrland works. You sign in via your Twitter or Instagram credentials and register with your name and email, or just use Twtrland anonymously to conduct a search.

Twtrland can show you at a glance how often you’re retweeted, how conversational you are, how often you share others’ tweets, the demographic makeup of your followers and much more

Naturally, you’ll want to see how Twtrland sizes up your own Twitter account, right? (Go ahead, I’ll wait!) Plunk your Twitter handle into the big, fat search field and a few seconds later you should see a snapshot of your Twitter activity (you can see my Twtrland profile at top), displaying:

• The number of tweets per day you average

• The number of times you are retweeted for every 100 tweets you post (Avigdor said 62 is “way above average,” though Twtrland should provide a benchmark so you can compare it to a typical user — context, you know?)

• The number of replies you post per 100 tweets (an important stat — if the number is below 5, it means you’re using Twitter as a broadcast medium and not for conversation)

Twtrland also shows you your followers’ gender gap (for me it’s 54% women), their location (76% from the U.S. — you can also get more granular, with 27% of U.S. followers from California, 18% from New York and so on) and how many people you’ve talked with recently (wassup, Lil B From The Pack!).

At the top right is a pie chart with a color-coded breakdown of your tweets: retweets that you posted (in my case, 28% — again, you shouldn’t make Twitter all about you, so RT generously), replies (aka conversations, 26.7%), links (tweets containing a link, 30%), mentions (7.8%) and plain tweets (6.3%). How does your breakdown compare?

sloane davidson

You can see at a glance how chatty someone is: Chris Brogan, for instance, tweets an average of 51 times day while Tesla Motors tweets once a day. And you can get even more granular. Want to know how many top Twitter users from Germany follow you or how many 20- to 40-year-old celebrities follow you? Twtrland gives you a way to parse the data.

Further down the profile page you’ll find “Famous words,” some of the top tweets from the account over the years, Followers Analysis, a breakdown of your followers’ demographics (marketing, social media and business top my hit parade), Business Insights, photos and videos shared, endorsements and more. And this is cool: A section showing which brands the person interacted with (see the Sloane Davidson example above).

Keep in mind, you can do the same search on any Twitter user’s handle — including brands, small businesses, celebrities, nonprofits, friends. And you can also conduct searches by location, which comes in useful for small businesses, geolocation-specific start-ups or brands with a campaign in a specific region of the country.

How to home in on the top power users

Influencers who are entrepreneurs in California.

Influencers who are entrepreneurs in California.

But the most impressive feature of Twtrland is its ability to bubble up influencers, or “power users,” as they put it, in a particular niche. Marketers have long understood the power of identifying audience segments, and Twtrland offers some top-flight social analytics. Check out the data in some of these searches to get a better sense of Twtrland’s capabilities:

Influencers who are California entrepreneurs (see at 100% resolution)

Women 20-40 from NYC

Marketers from Florida

Fashion Influencers 

• Bloggers from the UK

One of the most interesting slices of data is the list of Top Followers for each profile that appears in the left sidebar.

Prepare to spend some time with Twtrland, because it takes some practice to master all of the power under the hood. Looking for influential people in travel such as journalists, bloggers, writers or editors? Avigdor suggests the following options:

• Use the twtrland search (NOT the tracker) to search for: Most influential people in Travel, Travel Writing, Traveling, etc., OR

• Use the tracker to track mentions of keywords you think people that are relevant would mention. such as #Travel, #TBEX, Italy vacation, etc.

• For a simpler search, you could use traditional boolean search terms — “travel writer” OR “travel journalist” OR “travel blogger.” For a deeper dive, see the site’s search instructions.

Summary: One of the best social discovery tools on the market

For whatever reason, Twitter still limits you to creating no more than 20 lists. As someone who maintains both private and public lists in varied sectors — startup entrepreneurship, social marketing, nonprofits, journalism and other big, fat verticals — I find this limitation absurd, pointless and frustrating. But with Twtrland, you can create as many lists as you’d like. You can, for instance, create a list of power users who follow Robert Scoble on Twitter. Or identify the top influencers who follow a brand like Nike or Coke.

In addition to creating umpteen lists, you can also create private comments or notes about a person so you can refer back to it later. And while the service is not a full social CRM tool — it doesn’t show you a history of your interactions with a customer — Twtrland is integrated with both HootSuite and Nimble, so you can now use all three to good effect (as I do).

Twtrland is not a one-trick pony, despite the name (for the record, they lowercase it as twtrland). Today you can search out influencers on Twitter and Instagram, but in a few months they expect to add Facebook and the experts’ Q&A sites Quora and Stack Overflow, Avigdor said. Also coming soon: dashboards for brands.

The service isn’t perfect: It’s not crystal clear when you’re better served by using the Tracker instead of Search. The demarcation on searching on your Twitter followers vs. everyone on Twitter isn’t clear. You can’t copy and paste many of the fields. I wish I could see at a glance which of the top influencers following me I wasn’t following back, or which of the top influencers in a sector I was already following. There are a few technical hiccups: “Add Top-50 to List” buttons didn’t work for me in Firefox or Chrome. And the data is sometimes incomplete: Where’s Jason Calacanis or Kara Swisher or Om Malik in the list of California entrepreneur influencers?

And, most importantly, why are Joan Rivers and Ann Curry on the list of women ages 20 to 39 from NYC?

But it’s getting better all the time. All in all, Twtrland is perhaps the most affordable social intelligence tool you can add to your arsenal. And shouldn’t you be increasing your social IQ?

Related

Top 5 CRM platforms for small business (Socialmedia.biz)

Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business (Socialmedia.biz)

• Little Bird: A game changer for tracking influencers (Socialmedia.biz)

SocialToaster: Super fans unite on behalf of brands (Socialmedia.biz)JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

  • Alyson Stone

    Thanks so much for mentioning Nimble in your article. We think influencer marketing and reach marketing in general are absolutely essential in today’s global, social business model. Thanks again for helping spread the word!