Counting your influencers - Tuning for India

Any community builder (and i have been for past 3 years in emerging market like India) comes to a point when he thinks, let's take stock. The no. of influencers he has been able to connect with is one of the main areas. This is the set of people who will stand with you and you will for them. The success of community IMHO depends on these friends!

For a professional, it is important to measure everytime.. so when do you know you have achieved with the community what you set out to achieve i.e. get your influencers. is there a way to quantify the right amount of influencers whom you have connected with and recognised?

Having more no. of influencers are always desirable, there are following pitfalls to consider as well:

  1. Having "too many" recognised influencers lowers the value of recognition. Then recognising someone has no value.
  2. Having a lot of influencers might mean that one has lowered the bar of quality for influencers.
  3. Having too less of them would mean that you are leaving some very valuable people out of the circle.

All of the above are not nice scenarios to have.

Here is a measure that saw, modified and used to reach the "optimal" no. of influencers:

It is based on the 90-9-1 theory proposed by Jakob Nielsen in the article:

Steve Rubel also links to it as:

I would like to propose that the no. 1% is good to be used for general purposes. One should look at the size of the community to tune this no. further.

If a community is as large as 1.8 million users (approx. users on MS newsgroups) it would throw up 18,000 influencers (using 1%) from newsgroups alone. This is way above the no of influencers that MS recognizes from all its community avenues. I considered the various sized communities, their influencers and then verified with my gut feel:

Community members Estimated No of InfluMy
Feels Right
Very large communities 1,800,000 18000 Way off charts!!!3500
Large communities 50,000 500 Seems preposterous50
Average sized Community 5000 50 Starts to feel large10
Small community 500 5 Feels alright1

Given the above data, there seems to be that there is a theoretical percentage of 0.2% that can be considered as the optimum..

So a company willing to invest in community and influencers should target in the range of 0.2 - 1% of community members to be recognised.

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