Colleague and friend Valdis Krebs was one of the featured speakers at last week’s Supernova 2004 Conference. Valdis spoke about the growing field of social network analysis — and, specifically, how savvy companies use it to identify opinion leaders.
Rather, it is all about mapping out in graphical form the connections between people or organizations in a network.
One of the most famous uses of network analysis was the mapping out of terrorists in the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
The information gleaned from these network maps can be put to numerous important purposes, including business uses.
Valdis points out that some businesses have discovered the importance of marketing to opinion leaders and use network mapping to identify those opinion leaders:
“One of the things right now with social networking… and pharmaceutical firms are that certain nodes are more respected and influential. Pharmaceutical firms want to identify who the key opinion leaders are. They don’t want to sell a new drug to everyone, they want to sell to the 60 key oncologists. Who gets accessed the most for advice and information? We can figure out who the opinion leaders are.”
Here is a link to an example of a network map identifying key opinion leaders in a market.
(Hat tip to Brewed Fresh Daily.)
Marketing to small businesses often involves an element of finding out who the opinion leaders are. Small businesses tend to seek out one another for opinions on everything as diverse as the best place to buy office furniture to a referral for a good attorney. Anyone marketing to small businesses should take a page out of Big Pharma’s book, and look for ways to identify the opinion leaders who will influence other small business owners.