Twitter and Social Influence: Reality or a Pipe Dream for Marketers?

The concept of using influential people in marketing is not a new one. You only need to look at how many brands have celebrity ambassadors hawking their products.

But what about using influential personalities on social media to reach a larger audience via Twitter?

This is what the creators of a ‘Twittersphere’ map hope their work will help marketers do.

The map – developed by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology – visually identifies trending topics and the relationships between over 950,000 Twitter accounts in Australia


In the map above, the green dots represent hot topics (Adelaide’s on there…really?) while the yellow dots shows the strength of the following for that topic (so the denser the dots, the more followers it has).

Theoretically, this map would allow marketers to identify the users who tweet the most about their industry or products and have the most fans.  The idea then, is that marketers would target these individuals, and through word-of-mouth from them, get their brands and products reaching a larger audience with an authoritative voice plugging it.

While it may be a great idea in theory, one would have to question the practicality of this. Will marketers really be able to target individual Twitter users and use them for their own purposes? How would they target them? Would it work the way they would want?

Perhaps its usefulness stems from the fact that the map can be used to see where brands and products stand in relation to others. The ABC, for example, is using the map, and has found that their Triple J radio station falls neatly between the Radio and Music clusters.

Another issue that needs to be considered is if and how this map will change over time. To be really useful, this map needs to be able to evolve with the changing hot topics and complex relationships within the Twitterverse. At this stage, it looks as though it’s static, and only captures these at one point in time.

As it stands, this Twittermap is a great idea and is a way that companies can “take the temperature” of their brand or product. But it probably needs a bit more work if it is to become the essential marketing tool that its creators envision it as being.

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