A few days ago, I had a discussion about the importance of monitoring tools in the execution of a social media campaign, in order to find and target key-influencers.

Thinking of influencers, a personal experience comes to my mind. I remember one specific time with my aunt, when she advised me to respect the environment and never litter the streets, not even with a small piece of paper. I was, probably, about five years old. I don’t have many memories from back then but I do remember this incidence. I even believe that it has shaped a part of my character enhancing my sensitivity about environmental issues. The reason is that my aunt has been for me what we call a ‘key-influencer’.

Each of us is part of a social network, which is formed by our social connections. We influence our network and we are influenced by it. Nicholas Christakis, physician and professor at Harvard University, states in his book, ‘Connected‘, that

“Everything we do or say tends to ripple through our network, having an impact on our friends (one degree), our friends’ friends (two degrees), and even our friends’ friends’ friends (three degrees).”

This is what he calls ‘Three Degrees of Influence Rule’.

Obviously, when I was five years old, my social connections were the members of my family and I was influenced by them. Growing up, my social network was formed by friends. Due to my deep interest in the environment, I have been an influencer for environmental issues to my close friends.

The number of people each of us influences depends on the number of close connections we have and the number of connections our connections have and so on. According to Nicholas Christakis,

“When your friends and family become better connected, it increases your level of connection to the whole social network. We say it makes you more central because having better connected friends literally moves you away from the edges and toward the centre of a social network.”

Those who are in the centre are the ones who can influence the biggest part of the network.

But, how do we shape our social network? People tend to choose their social connections according to their interests. Usually, our closest friends enjoy the same kind of music or the same hobbies with us. When we first meet someone we ask questions trying to find common interests. If we don’t, we feel distant because we don’t have anything to share.

Personally, I tend not to develop close connections with people who don’t respect the environment. Therefore, if we supposed that I was in a central position of a network, we could assume that this network – or the biggest part of it – cares for the environment. In this case, I should have the ability to influence the network to a degree on environmental matters, not only on ideas and behaviour but also on purchasing decisions. For example, if I decided to boycott a product because the producer has destroyed a rain forest to make it, possibly a big part of my social network would also stop buying the product.

Online social networking tools and platforms make it much easier to connect and keep contact with people who share similar interests. In these networks, too, there are central positioned individuals, those who participate a lot, interact with others and have many strong connections and followers.

Monitoring tools are used in social media marketing to find those individuals who are in the centre of social networks that could be interested in a specific product or brand. Targeting these people is important for the success of a social media campaign. If we consider the theory of Nicholas Christakis about influence in social networks, it is easy to understand that targeting key-influencers is an effective marketing practice. For this reason, monitoring tools are necessary for the execution of a social media campaign.

Influencer marketing doesn’t work as a practice on its own. Its implementation in a social media campaign, though, can bring excellent results.