We’ve covered a number of tools that help marketers and brands identify influencers here. From Klout to mBlast and event the influencer identification tools in social media monitoring platforms, there exists a variety of methodologies, interfaces and price points to help you find the right bloggers and online voices to target with your company’s outreach.

One product on the market that has always intrigued me is Traackr. The San Francisco-based (by way of Boston) startup is inching up on four years old. At first, it focused on allowing individual bloggers to see their reach and influence. But as many a social media tool has discovered, making a tool for the tools isn’t profitable. Since refocusing its efforts to produce top-10, -25 or even -50 lists of influencers in a given niche, the service has taken off. Brand marketers and public relations folks looking for a sophisticated and automated way to find out who they should focus on are quick to subscribe to the service.

Image representing Traackr as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Traackr is keyword-based and the team stresses that setting up the keywords correctly is critical. They work with customers to fine tune the set up so you get what you’re looking for. While other monitoring services and online research tools may offer a topic-based approach, searching the web in a more advanced, non-keyword dependent, approach, none are solely influencer tools.

I took Traackr for a test drive recently and entered a string of about six keywords related to banking, personal finance and home mortgage loans. Within a matter of seconds, I had a 1-10 ranking of the top blogs I needed to focus on, including The Simple Dollar‘s Trent Hamm, MarketWatch‘s Andrea Coombes, Miranda Marquit from Financial Highway (among other blogs) and Tara Kuczykowski of Deal Seaking Mom, all of which have considerably large audiences with their blog readerships, Twitter followings and the like.

But Traackr also revealed Philip Taylor of PT Money and Kenneth Mages from Near Field Communications Data who don’t have huge audiences, yet nail the keyword topic relevance I’m looking for. As it turns out, Mages — as an example — doesn’t appear to have a huge blog following (he’s listed as an author on two blogs according to Traackr), but has a nice Twitter and LinkedIn following. His reach and resonance scores (more below) are low, but he nails relevance because these are the topics he’s been talking about recently.

Traackr combines three qualities when finding and ranking influencers. Reach is obvious: how many people does this person reach when they write something online? Resonance is the tendency for those posts to be repeated, linked to, retweeted and the like. Does this person get amplified by his or her network? The last one is relevance, which Traackr measures based on the keywords you’re targeting and how recent, often and important they are in the blogger/influencer’s content.

Certainly, one could argue relevance is only worthwhile with a certain reach and resonance, but unlike most other influencer tools, Traackr scores and prioritizes quality over quantity in this regard — certainly something worth considering.

Other tools, like mBlast, also offer dynamic results and incorporate a number of factors into their rankings. For gits and shiggles, I pumped the exact same keywords into an mBlast search. It revealed 25 “influencers.” None of them were in Traackr’s list. Most of mBlast’s results were certainly blogs and influential sites in the space, and ones I would certainly investigate and prioritize for an outreach project. In fact, I’d really like to use Traackr and mBlast together to ensure I’m getting influencers from a couple perspectives. But a closer look at some (not all, but some) of the mBlast results revealed blogs or websites I wouldn’t consider worth reaching out to. Traackr’s list only produced Mages that made me wonder. I’m not sure I’d put him in a top-10 list and not a blog like NetBanker, but that Twitter and LinkedIn list might reveal some heavy hitters.

However, the comparison in results only proves one critical point: You cannot trust algorithms alone. Regardless of the tool you use, you must add a layer of human analysis and investigation to verify the lists, ensure the results you’re working with are legitimate influencers in the space and, of course, none of these tools will do your outreach for you.

To effectively use an influencer identification tool, you must do some actual leg work yourself. Sorry … automation only goes so far. If that revelation disappoints you, step back and reassess whether or not you’re too lazy to do this.

I like Traackr for the simple fact that it’s incredibly easy: Put in good keywords, hit search and voila! You get your top-X list of influencers. And frankly, their algorithm produces a high quality list. You can add your own influencers to ensure their posts are considered and the dynamic nature of the tool allows you to see who’s talking about the topics in question now and how influential they are.

But there is a big drawback to Traackr. You’ve got to be series if you want to play. A single search to yield one top-25 list will run you $499 per month. There’s also a one-time, $2,500 setup, training and lifetime support fee. Influencer identification is a very small part of an overall marketing or public relations effort. You’re looking at $8,500 per year or so just to walk in the door with this tool. That alone means one thing: Big brands or big budgets only.

The tool its good. And if taking the manual labor of identifying who you should reach out to — not the outreach itself, just making your list — is time you’d rather spend doing other things, then Traackr may be for you. But for most public relations and marketing efforts, the price tag is going to be prohibitive.

Do you use Traackr? What are your experiences? The comments are yours.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, then why not:Leave Comment Below | Subscribe To This Blog | Sign Up For Our Newsletter |

About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

Other posts by

Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://twitter.com/noyesjesse Jesse Noyes

    Cheers on a solid review that carries with it a valuable lesson: Social media can’t be fully automated. I am always looking for voices that have influence in their chosen field, but legwork is always required. For instance, you can get a list of blogs to read, but it really helps to, you know, read them. I fear that as online influence measurement becomes more popular, businesses will abandon the process of learning and building relationships, adopting a scatter shot old school PR approach instead. This would be a step back rather than a step forward.

    Thanks for the post, Jason.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      You’re very welcome. Thanks for commenting!

  • Barbara

    We are long time Traackr users and big fans of the tool.  I guess your perspective on how expensive the tool is for PR firns might differ if you use it as a basis for differentiating your firm’s services like we have.  By being more analytical about our outreach we tend to deliver better results.  The real benefit however is not just using the list as a target list pitch but as the first phase of research into discovering different and effective ways to engage with influencers. We’ve seen some amazing results with programs for our clients including identifying you as a key influencer for our client NetBase:)  In fact, you’ve shown up as a key influencer for several of our clients in the social space.  Your point about automation not being fully effective is right on…strategic “human” insight is also really important but the one thing the Traackr tool does that humans have a hard time doing is eliminating the biases.  Just because you think someone is influential doesn’t make it so.  You do need to trust the data…

    Love the insight you bring to your posts…well done.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for chiming in Barbara. You certainly can make a justification for paying the expense if you’re leveraging it across multiple clients and getting a good piece of the time consuming process of influencer identification out of the way. And yeah … access to this can certainly differentiate PR firms. Good for Eastwick!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10618874 Chase Sherman

    Thank you for such a great review, Jason.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Glad to do it, Chase.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hasanalbanna Hasan Al Banna

    Bangladesh Business Directory

    Directory.com.bd, one of the largest and most accepted
    Bangladeshi business web directory and top online classified business listing
    directory consists worldwide business and trade database. You will find your
    desired business by searching category and subcategory wise. It is 100% search
    engine friendly and human-edited totally free web directory in Bangladesh,
    Submit your site today and join us.

    Our directory is 100% fee international business
    directory. Submit your business link and get back in all major
    search engine including Google, Yahoo, bing and others and increase your search
    engine rank. You can also submit your article or you can enter a specific
    search in the top right type box, browse business by category wise. Please add
    your link in the right category or it will be rejected. We approve your links
    within 24 hours. Thank you for submitting your link to our bangladeshi
    directory.  Join us  http://www.directory.com.bd

  • Anonymous

    nice

  • Anonymous

    Jason, I think the most important part of your post is your statement that “you cannot trust algorithms alone… you must add a layer of human analysis and investigation.”  I would love to shout this from the mountain tops!  Traackr, Klout, Mblast all provide perspectives and calculations on what influence is for subjects and authors.  Visible Intelligence, my company’s product, has a global author influence score as well.

    While it’s certainly possible for everyone to get into a pissing contest about who’s algorithm is better and why, there is no magic button in any tool that gives you the “right” answer.  You still have to roll up your sleeves and do a little legwork, verification and read some content to understand why a recommendation was made and if it makes sense. It may not make sense for you as influential but it does for another dept or person asking the same question in your company.  It’s all a matter of perspective. Thanks for keeping that top of mind with folks!

  • http://twitter.com/CourtV Courtney

    Our tool can get a bit expensive but you get what you pay for, and from your keyboard to mine, “you’ve got to be series if you want to play” (couldn’t have said it better myself). Like you mentioned, we are able to get much closer than most tools out there to finding the people that truly matter and the nice thing is that if you think anyone was missed you have the ability to add them and see how they stack up against the 25 that we provide.

    There will never be an online tool that will completely take away the need for human interaction – and it’s probably a good thing because a lot of people’s jobs depend on that! So it’s definitely always important to remember that online tools are just that – tools. The good ones should simply assist you to getting to your end goal faster and effectively. As our friends at Eastwick shared, using our tool correctly not only helped them identify the right people for their campaigns, but provided them with a serious edge on their competitors.

    Thanks for this review on Traackr, Jason. Really enjoyed reading it!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the review Jason. Great insights as usual.

    On the automated influencer solutions: we really see ourselves as a powerful piece of capability that left in capable hands can yield great results, but thinking that Traackr or any other social media tools will substitute humans is like saying that MS Excel should have replaced accountants and business consultants… If anything, we enhance human capability by freeing our users from mindless repetitive tasks requiring tons of data processing, better handled by machines, so that they can spend more time on value-add qualitative tasks (analysis, engagement strategy, influencing outcomes), better handled by humans.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Agree wholeheartedly Pierre. Thanks for stopping by! And for the great tool.

  • http://www.icu-india.com internet marketing belgium

    very nice really just amazing i like this post a lot

  • Pingback: San Francisco State Students Excel In The ‘Real World’ #SMMCPRW | Jennifer Neeley

  • Pingback: dostana

  • Pingback: simply click the following webpage

  • Pingback: Marketing Technology Solutions for Content Promotion | Bikini Marketing

  • Pingback: Marketing Technology Solutions for Content Promotion | Binikis Store