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Marketing Marvels – How to Find Influencers with Little Bird

By February 19, 2016 No Comments

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This is episode one of my new show: Marketing Marvels.

There is A LOT of marketing technology out there, and it’s difficult to know what all the platforms and packages do, whether it makes sense for your business, how it stacks up to competitors, and a bunch of other key questions.

I want to add some much-needed clarity to marketing technology, and Marketing Marvels will help. Every 3 weeks or so I’ll have a new show (live on Google Hangouts On-Air and streamed to my Facebook page) where I interview the founder or proprietor of marketing technology that I personally vouch for and support.

This week’s show is on Little Bird, the influencer identification and connections platform. Marketing Marvels viewers save 10% if they use code Marvels16 when requesting a free trial.

(To subscribe to the show go to http://bit.ly/marketingmarvels).

And, I’d love your comments below on how you like it!
~ Jay

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Jay: Hey, everybody. It is Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert and welcome to Marketing Marvels, where I help you discover the greatest marketing technology, the most useful marketing software to make your job better and easier.

Each and every episode of Marketing Marvels includes an overview and a quick demo of some sort of cutting edge marketing technology that I personally endorse and recommend and in many cases use for my own clients at Convince & Convert. We’ll have questions and answers if people tune in to ask them. I hope you decide whether or not this technology that we’re going to talk about today is right for you.

I want you to participate. If you’ve got questions about the technology, if you’ve got questions about today’s special guest, put them over in the questions box and we will definitely get to them if we have a chance. If we don’t have time, we’ll absolutely answer the questions after the broadcast. We will deliver them to our special guest and he will answer them with great clarity and comprehensiveness.

Speaking of which, today’s special guest on the Marketing Marvels show, the first ever guest in the history of the Marketing Marvels technology show is the one, the only, the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Marshall Kirkpatrick, who is the Founder and Chief Advocate of Little Bird. Welcome, my friend.

Marshall: Oh, thank you, Jay. Thanks so much for having me and congratulations on what I bet is going to be an awesome podcast series.

Jay: Well, I appreciate it very much. There is, as you well know, so much technology out there for marketers, more than ever before. And a lot of it’s really fantastic, but understanding what software does what and what software you’d use in each particular circumstance, I get questions about these kinds of things like literally every day and I thought, “Jeez, maybe we should make a show that profiles some of the great technology out there and introduce it to our audience.”

I also need to acknowledge before we get too far into episode one of Marketing Marvels how fantastic Marshall’s shirt is. It is, I mean, look at it. You’ve got to say something so you pop up. Look at the amazing butterflies on that shirt. It is really spectacular.

Marshall: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It’s my favorite.

Jay: Look at that. Man, it’s something. So reminder to all of our Marketing Marvels viewers that we’ll have a special offer for you at the conclusion of today’s program and at ever Marketing Marvels episode. So if you get to the conclusion of today’s episode and you’re like, “Man, I need to get me some of that software at Little Bird,” we’re going to tell you how to do that here in just a few minutes.

So why Little Bird? What’s the point of this software? Why is this software on Marketing Marvels? Why do I recommend it to you, my marketing friends? Well, here’s the thing. Little Bird solves a very important problem for marketers and it’s a problem that continues to get more and more complex as days go on.

That problem is this. There are millions, well, more than 300 million, to be specific, Twitter users and there are billions and billions and billions and billions of tweets. Which people and which tweets and which influencers and which topics are of importance to your business?

So here are the kinds of things that Little Bird can help you with. If you want to know which influencers you should connect with on Twitter because you probably don’t have time to connect with everybody, if you want to know with whom you should connect, Little Bird gives you that answer.

If you want to know what content you should maybe consider retweeting because it’s of interest to your audience, Little Bird can give you that answer as well. If you want to know what trends are emerging within the influencers in a particular category, Little Bird can give you that answer too.

So in a nutshell, the description of Little Bird is this: What does Little Bird do? Little Bird helps you tap into the people, companies, and content on Twitter that are influencing the direction of your business. I use it all the time at Convince & Convert.

In fact, I ran a Little Bird report this morning for one of our clients. It was spectacular. It happened in like 30 seconds. It was amazing as always and I can’t wait to show you what it can do. In fact, specifically I can’t wait for Marshall to show you what it can do since it was his baby and it’s his brainchild.

So Marshall, why don’t you give us a little step through on some of the highlights of the Little Bird platform?

Marshall: Yeah. I’d be happy to, Jay. Thank you so much. Let’s switch over to magic screenshare if we can.

Jay: Magic screenshare…

Marshall: That’s an excellent special effect, Jay.

Jay: You like that? It’s a low budget show for now. We just do this. It’s like Scooby Doo.

Marshall: So let’s start at the very beginning. Let’s say you’ve got a market and you want to know who should you be paying attention to, who should you engage with in that market, what do you need to know? You can come to Little Bird and we’re going to help you find that out. There are a number of different ways you can send our system out to get that information.

I’m going to show you a completed report on a topic. We’re going to walk through a hypothetical here and say that you’re maybe a fitness brand or someone in the athletic space and you want to know who the quantified self experts are, who those influencers are and where to go and engage.

So we’re going to run a Little Bird report on quantified self as a topic. But before we do that, I want to make sure that people see some of the other options that are here, including the ability to pull in people who use a hashtag or mention a keyword or talk about your brand. We’ll analyze all those people and tell you who’s most influential and give you a bunch of segmentation and important data around that.

You can also upload your own set of people if you’ve got a spreadsheet that you’re working off of or just a raw list, we’ll take Twitter handles, ingest them and then bring back all kinds of data. So I’d upload a list of our competitors, of our VIPs, different stuff like that. Events attendees are great. CRM exports are great in there.

Jay: I’ll tell you how I used it just today for a client. They are trying to come up with, they’re an agency that works in economic development, they’re trying to come up with who are the most influential mayors of US cities. So their team researched the Twitter handles of the top 250 US municipalities, the mayors of each municipality.

They gave that to me in a spreadsheet. I turned it into a CSV. I uploaded it to Little Bird. Within 30 seconds, here’s the list of all the top mayors ranked by influence. Marshall, I’ll tell you a little bit in a second about how those rankings exist. But I was able to pull that together like that, right? It was really spectacular just by uploading that CSV of Twitter handles.

Marshall: That’s awesome. What a neat use case. Good. Cool. So you can do that. You can also put in a Twitter list. If you or someone that you find has curated by hand a really good list of Twitter accounts on a topic, we can just suck that whole list in and we’re going to go out and find those people on social networks too. So if you want to engage with them on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., you can do that.

And then the last capability is really advanced. It’s sort of a meta-capability. That’s where you can take two networks that you’ve created, like your spreadsheet of mayors, for example, Jay. And you can intersect them with another report, say, on collaboration or on childhood nutrition or whatever the topic of another report you’ve run is. You can figure out who in one network is most interested in or most influential in that other topic. So super powerful way to analyze intersection.

But let’s start up at the highest level. If I’m running a topic-based report and I want to know who the quantified self influencers are. For example, I’m going to type in my topic. Little Bird is going to give me some examples. I could ask for some more examples. I could add my own. I could swap them out if I wanted to. But in most cases, those examples are just great.

So if you were curating a list like this by hand as many of your viewers I’m sure have, Jay, as I have many times as well, you might Google around. You might do some Twitter searches. You might follow some links.

It could take hours, days or if it’s a big project even weeks and ultimately be a subjective judgment call. But Little Bird is going to do that work in minutes to bring back people and organizations like the ones that you identified and you can see here in real time the results are coming in.

You can know that these folks are the real deal because we’re not ranking them based on how many followers they have or their popularity in the world at large. Instead, we’re asking who do the experts listen to in this field. Who’s most trusted by their peers?

So here you can see Gary Wolf, for example, is a guy who’s followed on Twitter by a larger number of the people in our rapidly expanding index of quantified self experts than anyone else. He is at the center of the community so far, as we map it out. We think that this is the best, fastest, most objective, most reliable way to find influencers on any topic and we’re really glad to have automated that work.

Jay: So to recap on that piece of it, Little Bird’s influence rankings are based on how many people within the group of influencers around that topic follow each one another.

Just to make the math more simple, if there are 100 people that Little Bird unearths who are influential about a topic and all 100 or all the other 99 people in that group follow one person, that person is likely to be the most influential because everybody follows them. If somebody is only followed by two people, they’re likely to be at the bottom of that 100-person data set.

Marshall: Exactly. So we like to describe it sometimes as a nine out of ten dentists recommend model.

Jay: Sure.

Marshall: It’s not a matter of how popular you are in the world. If I’ve got, especially for a B2B topic, let’s say, a big popular celebrity may not be the best influencer for me to reach out and engage with. I want to know who’s really relevant, who’s got really relevant connections and a relevant audience and that’s where we start.

Jay: And we can see the individual cards for the influencers animating there on the screen. That’s as the ranking changes, as you discover more people in the live analysis. They move around based on whether they’re third or fourth or seventh or twentieth.

Marshall: That’s right. As we’re going out and doing our crawl and continually recalculating here, we’ll jump over to a completed report, but this one will take just a couple of minutes. In all likelihood, we’re up to 700, almost 800 quantified self influencers and we’re figuring out who’s who here in real-time and moving people around. So I could click out and start checking these people out either on Twitter or other social networks. But let me switch over to a completed report.

Jay: And those little icons there underneath each person’s profile just shows that you know who they are on LinkedIn or Pinterest or somewhere.

Marshall: That’s correct. Yeah. So here’s a completed version of a quantified self report that I ran. You can see this is what the page looks like when you land on it. But up here on the top right, there’s a little more button to expand. Here’s what it looked like in the end. We found more than 800 people in our organizations in this report and Gary Wolf emerges victorious with 245. Yeah. He’s the winner.

Now, if I wanted to, I could switch over and say show me the people who are must popular in absolute terms. Unsurprisingly, there’s Tim Ferriss. They’ve got a lot of followers. Or I could say show me the social media veterans, etc., all kinds of different sorts that you can do. But by default, we’re sorting by what we call insider score. I can come in and say show me the VPs, for example, and filter down just for people who have specific keywords in their bio. Maybe I want to know who talked a lot about running, so much so they described themselves that way. Boom, now I’ve gone down from 800 people down to 7 or 8 people real specifically.

Jay: And I suppose we can do that by geography too? You can put Seattle in that search box?

Marshall: You could do it that way. But even better to do geography is to come back here to this default view and to flip over to the map.

Jay: Okay. There you go.

Marshall: And zoom in. Here in the Pacific Northwest, for example, there is our Seattle area influencers in quantified self in ranked order. I still have friends that I have made in the area here that I didn’t know were here until I ran a Little Bird report and zoomed into my hometown. It turns out that there is not just one community here either.

A smart marketer is going to be savvy about the different segments on the lay of the land. If you are looking to engage with this market, it would serve you well to know that there are actually a number of different sub-communities clustering together. Down below here, we can see who their leaders are and what hashtags they’re using.

Jay: Nice. And you can do a reverse analysis on that and just show the hashtags as we talked about at the beginning.

Marshall: Exactly. Totally. That’s interesting that mHealth is an important hashtag in this community right here. I want to learn more about these people and then I want to run a Little Bird report on everyone talking about mHealth, which may or may not have been something I thought of before.

Jay:  When you do a report on mHealth, is that everybody within that insider group or everyone period? Does it go out and rerun the analysis?

Marshall: It will rerun the analysis.

Jay: Cool. So we talked about the content side of this equation and that Little Bird will surface up popular content that you should pay attention to and possibly retweet. Can you show me how that works?

Marshall: Sure can. So if you flip over to the content tab up here in the top right, I’m going to scroll this out. What we have done here is tried to bring a little bit of peace and focus and efficiency to the marketers day where if I’m looking to build connections or do research in this field, I know that all these quantified self influencers, much less the world at large are sharing thousands of things every day on the social web. I can’t read it all.

Just because it includes a keyword doesn’t mean it’s important. But instead, what we do here is we watch these most important sources, the key influencers with the most credibility in the field. We build an automated highlight reel of just the stuff that really breaks out for these users.

So for some people, these are great opportunities to go out and reply or favorite or retweet on Twitter to be engaging with these influencers and their best content. Other folks will cross-post over to LinkedIn and it’s a great value add. These influencers will totally notice if you share what they shared on Twitter over on LinkedIn with credit.

Other folks will just watch the conversations either here or on blogs and they’ll use this as a research tool to figure out what’s trending and what language is being used, what concerns are arising in the community and then to inform and inspire their own original content creation.

So there’s an earned media and an owned media component here as well as a market intelligence kind of thing. We’ve got a lot of customers that will say, “I want to run a report on a company and I want to know what’s hot amongst people who are around that company today or over the past week.” That’s never been easier and more efficient to do, I think.

Jay: Interesting. I didn’t think about that. That makes sense. So can you get some of that information pushed to you so you don’t have to keep logging into the platform all the time or remembering to login?

Marshall: Yeah. You sure can. So the easiest way to do that is to sign up back on your dashboard page. There’s a little button you click to get what we call our Daily Mission email. Here, for example, is a Daily Mission I get on the top women futurists because that’s a topic of interest to me.

So every day, I get an email with a recommendation of one person that I’m not yet connected to that Little Bird believes I should follow and connect with and then three hot pieces of content that are being shared in this circle of influencers.

Jay: That’s super useful. I’ve got tell you, I love getting those emails every day. It is so awesome to just get in your inbox like, “Follow these people. Share this content. Read this content.” It is so fantastic to have that kind of spoon-fed to you. If you’re working for a bunch of different clients and for a bunch of different topics like I am and like many people are, it is really useful to have that show up every day.

Marshall: Real easy. It’s like having an automated assistant that’s going to figure out who to watch and it’s going to watch them for you and it’s just going to send you an email each morning with three things to know, essentially, one person and three pieces of hot content. So I get those across a bunch of different reports that I track.

Jay: I love it. Fantastic. Marshall, anything else you want to show or should I ask you more questions?

Marshall: One last thing I want to show off, something that I’m real proud of here. You might have noticed when you got that Daily Mission email, it recommended one person that you’re not yet connected with. And that’s an important part of the analysis too. One of the things that Little Bird can do is it makes it real easy to compare anyone against this set of influencers. So here I’ve looked at Gary Wolf and I can see who he’s following in this field in ranked order and who’s following him.

So there are all kinds of different intelligence that can come either in researching an influencer, but you can also put yourself in. You can put a competitor in. You can put a sales prospect in here.

You can put someone that you’re thinking about engaging with for a marketing campaign or at an event and you can see them in context by looking to see… obviously quantified self is a topic that is important enough to me. And I’m savvy enough about it that I’m following a bunch of top people in the field. And I’ve got some amount of influence there because here are the people that if I was going to do a marketing campaign around quantified self, I’d reach out to these people first because they’re in my audience.

So a lot of big brands will use this who have hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. They don’t know if they’ve got one of the top leaders in the field in a particular market following them. Those are just lost like needles in a haystack and Little Bird comes in and finds them.

Jay: And it’s really interesting. That’s super powerful to be able to figure out how you can just sort of pull out those individuals out of this huge sea of followers and then start to approach people on a one-to-one basis, which is sort of how this social media thing was supposed to be done but harder and harder to do just because of the scale. So Little Bird kind of lets you get back into the social and away from the media, which I appreciate very much.

Marshall: Exactly.

Jay: So I love how fast Little Bird runs. This was a live demo. This isn’t screenshots. This is real. It runs very, very quickly. You can do so many things with it. It’s a very, very flexible platform. We just talked about many, many use cases just in this little sample demo. So unlike a lot of other software in the influencer discovery category that can do one or two things, Little Bird does lots and lots of different things, which I think makes it really flexible for a lot of different companies, lot of different use cases.

Brian Diaz asks, thanks for tuning in, Brian, what are the differences between Little Bird and Traackr? Do you want to address that? Also, there are a lot of people that do “influencer discovery.” I know Little Bird’s methodology is a little different of how you find influencers. Why don’t you kind of talk about some of those key differentiators?

Marshall: Yeah. There are a lot of different companies in the influencer marketing space. In our conversations with Traackr, for example, and customers who have used both, I think Traackr has more like CRM capabilities to follow along your engagement and to help manage communications. And Little Bird’s strength is really around discovery and discovery of new opportunities as well as some high-level market insights, the kinds of things like segmentation that other systems are less accustomed to.

And then in a broader sense, there’s really a big continuum of even influencer discovery technologies where on one end of the spectrum, you’ve got an influencer marketplace-type paradigm where you can come in. You’ve got people who have opted in who often you’ll make a payment to and then they will represent your brand in the content that they create.

Those kinds of platforms are well-suited to B2C, consumer goods advocacy kinds of campaigns. Little Bird is really… there is certainly an option, we’ve got customers that will reach out to people we discover for that kind of engagement. Most of our customers are interested in the other end of the spectrum, which is really about discovering independent people who you may already have a relationship with or who you ought to build a relationship with.

It’s often in B2B and it’s really more about earned media than it is about paid. Little Bird is great for ad targeting. You can export that data, put it into a Twitter ad campaign and get great results because the people that we discover are so relevant. But it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re a B2B product marketer or a content marketer and you want to do research and build relationships with big, credible independent thought leaders, then that’s the best time to come to use Little Bird.

Jay: That’s exactly how I used it when I was working on my new book, “Hug Your Haters,” which comes out pretty soon. It’s a customer service/customer experience book, which is not an area that I’ve done a lot of work in in the past. So I used Little Bird to pull lists of influencers on those topics and then took the resulting data, put it into a Twitter ad campaign and then ran Twitter ads well before the book was even out saying, “Hey, the book is coming. Jay has wrote this book.”

So it ended up yielding a whole lot of contacts on Twitter, a bunch of interviews and a whole bunch of podcast guest appearances in that community because I seeded the book concept well before the book actually came out with that key group of influencers.

Marshall: Great. That’s the kind of strategic thinking and using data ahead of time and really engaging with that community that our best users engage in and that we really encourage people to do to not treat influencer marketing as a last-minute just in time, “Pull me a list and go send out a request for advocacy.” But instead, the more you can invest ahead of time in paying attention and learning and being a trusted member of that community, you’ve built up social capital and visibility and credibility in that community now, Jay. And it really is going to serve you well.

So what we try to do is lower the overhead for doing that kind of work to say, “Here’s where you should go do that work. We’re going to make it as easy as possible.”

Jay: How do you charge for it? How do people get Little Bird?

Marshall: It’s a subscription service. It’s primarily focused on either medium or large organizations or agencies that serve them. You can purchase bundles of seats and every seat has an unlimited number of reports that you can run. So you can run reports on your target market, on your VIPs, on particular companies, on job functions, whatever you want.

Any time you think, “Let’s ask who the world’s leading experts on this topic are, whether I know any of them or what they’re talking about right now,” we don’t want to limit your subscription and charge you every single time you go and do that.

It’s typically an annual engagement and there’s both a self-service option and for larger companies and agencies we love getting on the phone with folks walking them through it and talking about how it’s really powerful technology that can be applied in a real personalized kind of way. But it’s pretty easy to use and then we help with onboarding, training and regular check-ins.

Jay: And is there a price range that starts in that people should keep in mind?

Marshall: Yeah. I’d say it’s between a couple hundred and a couple thousand dollars a month, depending on need. But Marketing Marvels viewers, we’re excited to offer a 10% discount to. If you come on in and get on board today, you can take the edge off of that by putting in “Marvels16” as a code when you request a free trial and then you’ll get… it’s going to more than pay for itself real quick, but we’re working to sweeten that deal all the more.

Jay: That’s awesome. Thank you. That’s very kind of you. Remember folks, go for a free trial. Marshall and his team will do sort of a customized demo, more in depth for your business. “Marvels16” and they’ll give you 10% off, which could save you a whole bunch of money over the course of a year. I do want to just reiterate what Marshall said.

One of the things that I personally liked best about Little Bird, in fact, I liked it so much that I actually invested in this company, and the reason I use it all the time is that you can run as many reports as you want. Once you have a license, you can just go crazy. You can sit there and geek out and be like, “Who’s most influential about the Slam Dunk Contest? That would be fun to know.” Boom. And you know it.

Marshall: And then you find their best content and it’s really good and then you can share it and you look real good yourself.

Jay: Ta-da. I just love that there’s no disincentive. That’s one of the things I don’t like about a lot of technology platforms is that they’re charging you by the report or by the use or by the threshold and then all of a sudden… I just got one today from a software package that we use here at Convince & Convert that was like, “You’ve exceeded your amount of data,” and I’m like, “Man.”

Why would you want to cause me to use your product less? I just don’t really understand that, especially when it doesn’t actually cost them anything. So I really love the way this product is priced and I think everybody else will also.

Marshall: Thanks, Jay. Yeah. We’re really excited about it and we love getting to learn from our customers. We’ve got some of the smartest, most innovative big and little companies in the world using it and love to share best practices that we pick up too. So come on over, check out the free trial and we can learn some stuff together and go out and do our social media marketing all the more effectively.

Jay: One of the things that’s fascinating is that you developed this technology, you built Little Bird to fit your own purposes when you were a working journalist. Tell us that story a little bit about how that came to be.

Marshall: Yeah, exactly. I did. I was the first writer hired over at TechCrunch and then I was the co-editor of ReadWriteWeb for many years and I had really broad interests. That’s a really competitive field. That was before content overload was as broad a problem as it is today. But the sooner you can jump on something really good and share it in a smart, compelling way that you know is going to resonate, the more success you’re going to find in journalism or marketing.

So I’ve built systems to tell me who to watch across a broad range of different topics and then had those systems watch those people for me and alert me when something was trending amongst the deep experts in the niches and then I would go and create content about that and it was super, super successful and eventually companies started coming to me and saying, “Hey, we’d really like to learn how to do that kind of thing ourselves.”

So Little Bird was thus born and today we’ve been doing it now for a number of years. We’ve got a team of 13 people, 14 now in Portland, Oregon and working with, like I said, some of the coolest most interesting companies in the world.

Jay: Fantastic. Last question from me before we wrap it up, Marshall, and thanks very much for your time and to everybody at Little Bird for being here and for the special offer. Use the code Marvels16 to get 10% off your Little Bird subscription. What technology do you love other than your own? What is a marketing marvel to Mr. Marshall Kirkpatrick?

Marshall: Oh man. There are so many different things out there that pop up all the time. I just got a demo this morning of Nimble. Nimble you may know as a CRM platform.

Jay: That’s what we use at Convince & Convert. Love it.

Marshall: Jon Ferrara, the CEO, was just giving me a demo of some new stuff that they’re working on coming up soon around the intelligence and the segmentation and it was super powerful. I was really impressed. So I love things that augment my own intelligence and do it quickly so that I can be smarter, faster, more interesting, more fun at parties and do more business. So that looks like a good one right there too.

Jay: Great recommendation on Nimble. We’ll have to get them on the Marketing Marvels show. That’s how we’ll get future guest. We’ll just have today’s guest recommend the next guest and that will be like this baton handoff, like a relay race. I love it. They would be terrific guests, Nimble, social CRM.

Thanks so much, Marshall. I really appreciate you being on this show. Thank you for bringing the butterfly shirt on Marketing Marvels, episode number one. Thanks to all of you for watching. We’re going to do new episodes of this show about every three weeks.

To find them, subscribe to Marketing Marvels. Do it right now before you forget. Go to bit.ly/MarketingMarvels. It will be on my YouTube Channel, Jay Baer. Also, we’re going to start streaming this live to Facebook as well in the next episode, which will be nifty.

Marketing Marvels is a production of Convince & Convert Media. We have multiple outstanding podcasts for marketers. We have Social Pros. We have Content Pros. We have the brand new show Influence Pros, which launches tomorrow, which is all about influencer marketing.

We have the Business of Story, which is about applying Hollywood storytelling principles to your content. We also have the Convince & Convert podcast as well, which is all of our best blog posts turned into audio files. Just go to ConvinceAndConvert.com/Podcasts to find them or go to iTunes or any place that you consume audio content.

On behalf of everybody at Marketing Marvels and Convince & Convert and my friends at Little Bird, thanks so much for being part of Marketing Marvels, episode one. See you next time.