Factors to Consider when Measuring Network Influence

When engaging with folks about their enterprise social network (often Yammer community managers) I usually start with the same two questions. First, what problem are you looking to solve? Second, how does the answer to the first question inform your social strategy? What I hear varies but answers include questions on the engagement of users and wanting to know who is “moving the needle” or influencing their network. This post offers a way to think about network influence and what should be taken into consideration when measuring it.

Network Influence tyGraph Dean Swann

Here are four factors that taken together, make up this approach:

  1. User contributions to the network, usually in the form of messages.
  2. Impact of those contributions on other users.
  3. Breadth of contributions. Are user contributions in one group or many?
  4. Reach. How many other users have been reached through a user’s contributions?

Top Contributors: Good start, Not Enough

Knowing your top contributors is a good start, but it is not enough. This can give you a good picture of who is active in your user base but it doesn’t really help you know how or even if, they are engaging others. And this is the point isn’t it? We are usually after that elusive but attainable network state where users are influencing others by engaging in constructive dialogue and working on projects together to achieve business objectives. Let’s start with contributors as one of our key factors and add to it.

Impact: Cause and Effect

Our second factor and likely the most critical is the impact of a user’s contributions or posts to the network. Are other users responding to posts? Are they hitting the “like” button? These are signs of impact. Another measure of impact is being “at mentioned” in your network. The act of someone looking for you is a good indication that they want your opinion, your thoughts, or at least your attention to a message or thread.

Breadth of contributions

The third factor for consideration is the breadth of a user’s posts. Meaning, are they posting in one specific group or many groups? The more groups a user posts in, the more likely they’ll have a higher influencer score.

Reach: Total User Interactions in Messages

The fourth and final factor for influence is to determine the total number of users a specific user has interacted with and use that as part of the equation. In other words, who else has contributed to the same threads you have? The more users, the bigger your reach.

This approach powers the Influencer Score of tyGraph for Yammer. Full disclosure, I am the Director of Product there and have had the opportunity to see this in action with my fellow tyGraphers and some awesome customers.


There are other ways to think about network influence and one of my favorites is well articulated by Christian Buckley (@buckleyplant). His ebook on Social Capital includes a discussion on influence from a different perspective.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how to measure ESN influence. Drop me a note below. Thanks!



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