By Taylor Lancaster 

This week we had the pleasure of hearing from Bill Calder and Jenna Galbreath, who work for WE communications. Bill and Jenna both work with data to understand insights, threats and issues in order to provide recommendations to their clients based on their findings. One thing that Jenna asked us that particularly caught my attention was “how do you define influence on social media?” 

We all seem to be familiar with social media influencers and the reach that some individuals or brands have through their social media accounts, but how do we actually measure their influence? To answer this question, there are a handful of factors that play into discovering how this “influence” can be measured.


The first, and seemingly most obvious way to measure influence is to look at the individual’s or brand’s number of real followers and how frequently they post. This is becoming easier to do now, as many social media platforms such as Twitter have started to eliminate over 70 million “suspicious” or inactive accounts. By looking at how many real followers someone has, it can be a great indicator of public interest. The more active followers, the higher indication that people are interested in your content. 


Understanding a brand of influencer’s reach is a crucial tool in accessing how much influence they have. “Reach” is the number of people who can potentially view your content.

For instance, while someone can have a large following online, this doesn’t necessarily mean that their posts are being viewed by all of their followers. Reach can be measured through impressions, how many people viewed your post, how many hashtags the post generated, keywords mentioned, etc. 


Arguably the most important aspect of measuring influence on social media is assessing engagement. If your posts are not curating a conversation or any measurable actions online, you’re not really influencing your audience to take action. How many retweets, shares, comments are you receiving on your post? This plays a huge factor is highlighting the interest and engagement that your followers are creating as a result of your content. Essentially, what are they doing as a result of your posts? With that being said, it has also been proven that a brand or individual’s engagement with its audience is crucial in creating a loyal following. Research commissioned by Twitter showed that 71% of its users expect a response within an hour. This tells us that its super important for brands and influencers to engage back with their audience in order to keep conversations circulating online. 

Overall, measuring influence on social media comes down to looking at the data surrounding who is following your accounts, how many people are reacting to it online and who is actively engaging with your posts. Although there are many factors that can determine the influence that one may have, it is becoming increasingly easier as we are learning to understand how to break it down through looking at the data closely.

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This Article Has 6 Comments
  1. Jason Jantz says:

    Great article. Focusing on getting a conversation going and getting your audience to engage is the most meaningful way to determine if your campaign is effective. In a time when fake likes and bot posts can mislead effectiveness, it can be challenging to get a clear understanding of your effectiveness without analyzing your reach below the surface.

  2. Emma Brennan says:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post! I thought you did a very good job not only summarizing the presentation in class but also going off it and expanding what was said. I find it interesting how ones following and reach is different. Even if you have a ton of followers it doesn’t meet they are reaching everyone. Influencers and influencing is for sure taking over our social media and society.

  3. Kyra Lindsay says:

    Great insight and break down. Your engagement piece that Bill and Jenna talk about is very crucial. You could have that 70 million following, but if you don’t have that engagement, there really is no point. There is no true way to tell what followers are “true” or “real”. That is why it is hard to gauge which influencers actually have influence.

  4. Chad Orras says:

    I really liked the breakdown of each area and the emphasis on engagement. What surprised me the most was the Twitter stat in which 71% of their users expect a response within an hour. That article also dives into the fact that a lot of brands are failing to continue the conversation with users engaging in their sponsored posts. It is vital that these brands continue these conversations and engaging with as many users as possible. This gives them the opportunity to keep the conversation going and expand the visibility with the items they are trying to promote. There is a lot of different things brands can do better but you definitely provide the information needed on what steps need to be made in the future.

  5. Caitlin Wahlers says:

    Taylor, what a great breakdown! I appreciate the piece about Twitter’s commissioned research, highlighting the expected response times of users. It makes me think about our last class speaker, Carmen Hill, and her comments about user attention spans. It’s interesting because it poses the question, who is calling the shots? Are brands following users or users following the brands? If a brand cannot respond in an acceptable amount of time, is it risky for them to have a presence online? I wonder, will response become another stand-alone metric for brands to monitor and track overtime?

  6. Olivia Gabriel says:

    Great outline and perspective for measuring influence. I think all 3 of these are important and need to be looked at together in order to measure a person’s influence. A person could have thousands of followers but low engagement and low reach. On the surface it might seem like they have a lot of influence because of their followers, but in reality, they don’t have influence at all because their content is not reaching their audience or being engaged with. Similarly, a person could only have a thousand followers but very high engagement rates, and therefor, have a strong influence because their content is being seen and interacted with. I think it is important for brands to specifically look at a combination of the 3 when considering who their influencers will be if they choose to go that route for advertising and brand exposure. Although these 3 factors are all important to consider, I don’t think there is truly one single way to measure influence; it is a combination of a variety of factors and it is always changing as media and the culture are changing.

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