Digital Influence: What it is and how to measure it

According to Forbes, the average person is exposed to around 5,000 ads every single day. To deal with the fact that our audience’s attention is pulled in every direction possible, users of social networks have formed a pack mentality. Such group thinking helps to collectively decide where their attention should be placed. Audiences are congregating. They’re following and liking a select few, and passing on the messages of what we consider to be the “Digital Leaders Club”.

You Can’t Sit With Us

Let’s think of the Digital Leaders as a members-only club. As with most members-only clubs, rules apply when joining to ensure the club retains its exclusivity and charm.

So what are the rules for gaining entry into the Digital Leaders Club? Here we discuss one of the more prominent rules tied to membership – “thou must have digital influence” – and how the use of an online media monitoring tool can greatly increase our chances of joining.

The Digital Influence Phenomenon

Digital influence has become quite a phenomenon in social networking. In short, the term refers to the ability to create change – whether that’s attitude, belief or behaviour based.

The development of online media monitoring tools was a response to the digital influence phenomenon, with more and more companies wanting to benchmark their influence internally and against competitors. Becoming the object of their audience’s desire sounds like every communication professional’s dream, right? But this doesn’t have to be a dream. Obtaining digital influence can be a reality with a little perseverance and an online media monitoring tool acting as our right-hand man.

The Three Rs Of Digital Influence

Reach, relevance and resonance are all vital components in the digital influence equation. By focusing our attention on the three Rs and using a media monitoring tool to make intelligent data-driven decisions, we can successfully contribute to change, bringing us one step closer to becoming a member of the Digital Leaders Club.


Reach refers to the spread of online conversation and how many people may have seen the message. This metric is impossible to understand without an online media monitoring tool such as Meltwater.

As my colleague Leslie commented in a previous blog, today’s media channels don’t operate in a silo: reporters use blogs and social channels, and bloggers use social media and social channels, and social media influencers use journalism and blogs. In effect, paid, earned and owned media serve to amplify each other. So, if we’re looking at increasing our digital influence, increasing our presence in earned, owned and paid media is a sure way to do it. This blog is a great source of information for those wanting to learn how to utilise each method individually.


When we speak about relevance, we’re talking about the state of being closely related, appropriate and aligned to the subject in question. By using an online media monitoring tool, we can truly understand the current chatter around our industry, brand and competitors, identifying key points of interest. We can then ensure that our campaigns and messages are aligned with what our audience wants to see.


Resonance is about feeling connected to a certain message and compelled to reinforce it or prolong the discussion by adding to the buzz. Just because our brand has successfully reached our audience and is relevant, it doesn’t mean they’ll take to social media to engage with us, write a positive review on TripAdvisor or write about us in one of our top-tier publications. Here, we need to step away from numbers found from media monitoring and get personal in order to create digital influence. Connecting with our audience through storytelling is a great way to build resonance through playing on real raw emotions. Check out our blog on how emotions and attachment bring our campaigns to the next level and boost our digital influence!

As companies begin to invest more and more resources into building their digital influence, we communication professionals are seeing an increase in pressure to prove ROI, and rightfully so since we can’t manage what we can’t measure.

Many Meltwater clients use media monitoring tools to help measure their digital influence and justify the allocation of their resources… and their existence. Here’s how you can do the same.

digital influence

Digital Influence Measurement

Digital influence measurement is underpinned by the same three main components needed to achieve digital influence: reach, relevance and resonance.


Having a large audience is great, but reach alone isn’t the be-all and end-all of measuring influence. For example, half of the people we reach may not be interested in what we have to say! Using a media monitoring tool to measure reach in conjunction with engagement metrics gives us a data-driven and holistic view as to the success of our campaign.

As a rule of thumb, we should be dividing engagement by reach to estimate an engagement percentage. This enables us to put things into perspective. We can then understand the number of people who actually care about our message compared to how many people it had reached. Such insights will significantly influence how future campaigns and messages are structured – should we continue what we’re doing or alter our strategy?


It’s also a good idea to think about qualitative messaging analysis in relation to both reach and relevance. A media monitoring tool such as Meltwater is able to scan billions of documents in the blink of an eye, uncovering key insights such as trending themes. More popular and trending topics are likely to reach a much larger audience. Through media monitoring, users are able to unlock the hottest topics in the industry and measure whether their message is aligned with what influencers/our audience are currently talking about. Data is presented in a simple word cloud so we can quickly get to grips with how relevant our campaign is.

An increase in favourable press hits would seem like a good indication that our digital influence is growing; however, if our audience are unlikely to read those publications, our relevance actually decreases. Any good media monitoring tool will be able to measure mentions in our personal top-tier publications, therefore also helping us to measure relevance.


We can measure whether our campaigns are resonating with our audience by social listening. Thankfully, our lives have been made much easier since the introduction of social media monitoring tools that are able to make sense of online conversations and analyse buzz by sentiment. We can take analysis a step further by benchmarking campaign sentiment against previous campaigns! Since resonance is also about feeling connected to a certain message and being compelled to reinforce it or prolong the discussion, we should also be keeping an eye on the volume on engagement.

digital influence