Influencer Marketing— A Competitive Edge

  • 29 January 2015
  • By Julie Zisman

It’s funny how marketing technology products get pigeon-holed into one specific functional area. For example, marketing automation gets put into the hands of the demand generation team but many groups across the organization could benefit: product, customer success and customer service included. I’m sure some forward thinking companies use this product in a cross discipline way but the majority stick to a typical use case—find lead, nurture lead, pass to sales.

It’s rare that you find a solution that provides value across the marketing landscape but Influencer Marketing can do just that. It can give you a competitive edge that puts you 3 to 6 months ahead of the market. How, you ask? It’s simple: Influencers talk with their peers about market trends across social media before they are broadly adopted.

Think about these different functional areas and how they can benefit.

Product Marketing:
Scope the opportunities of new markets and new countries by researching the influencer landscape. Identify what concepts are shaping influencer content and use it to guide positioning and product strategy. Watch competitor influencer relationships so you can make sure you have equal share of voice in the market. Make sure that any influential beta customers are populating their social feed with relevant information to drive new product adoption. Use influencer content or conversations to enable your sales team with the latest market trends, target prospects or to make introductions.

Content Marketing:
Watch influencer content posts and see what resonates with followers. Especially among other influencers. What assets or materials can you create that map to current market trends? Which influencer would be best to partner with to co-create content that would have the biggest impact?

Use the same market trends to shape story pitches for the media. Watch and make sure you are connected to the most relevant press members. Identify opportunities where you can bring a bigger story to the table by partnering with other companies in your ecosystem. Monitor your competitive influencer landscape so you can make sure you’re included in industry round-up coverage.

Social Media and Demand Generation:
Curate and Post peer validated content and engage with influencers through social channels. Showcase your brand in the best possible light to peak prospect interest and drive qualified organic and direct web traffic to your digital properties. Use influencer lists to drive your social advertising strategy and push your engagement rate higher

Event Marketing:
Use geographic information to identify cities with high proximity to influencers. Then you can schedule events in cities that have a high likelihood of influencer participation. Use influencer lists for social outreach whether its for speaker or audience recruitment. Extend the value of physical events into social channels by engaging influencers to monitor and relay session highlights. Create event momentum by hosting social chats with influencers on relevant topics in advance of the physical event.

The reality of Influencer Marketing has even started to shape how marketing vendors are servicing their clients. Especially in the agency world.

Drive your business by shaping educated pitches to clients based on influencer data. Augment multiple accounts with influencer data to extend the value of your work through new channels. Partner with clients and drive better results across all marketing activities in support of the previously mentioned use cases.


While sales and marketing teams are the early consumers of this information, it’s very easy to see how influencer data could shape other parts of the organization like recruiting. When people are hesitant about making an investment in Influencer Marketing, my response is, “How can you afford not to?” It’s still early in this space. People taking advantage of influencer marketing platforms will get the competitive advantage because the information it provides is needed and strategic for the entire marketing team. I saw this same adoption curve in the Digital Customer Experience and Analytics space. Now is your opportunity to make an investment before a real competitive advantage slips away.

Opportunities Don't Float on Clouds

  • 22 January 2015
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

You should probably be Tweeting more at work. And that’s just the beginning.

If you’re a professional who’s excited about spending time capturing value on the social web, then you’re familiar with people questioning whether it’s a serious and worthwhile way to spend time at work. In just a few years, in the rear view mirror, time spent waiting to jump into the social web will be seen as opportunity lost.

Take, for example, the fact that even #POTUS leverages social media for the State of the Union. Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer said “To not have an aggressive social media strategy in 2015 would be the equivalent of not having an aggressive TV strategy in the 1950s. We have to go to where the conversations are already happening.” (Found and quoted by Pete Blackshaw.)

For years, social media has fought an uphill battle against skepticism, but it seems to be on the decline. Ten years ago, Dan Lyons wrote a front cover story for Forbes infamously titled “Attack of the Blogs.” It was hyperbolic but raised some important questions everyone had, and it was not satire.

“As a junior marketer in a B2B organization in 2005, I remember my company’s absolute reluctance to start and manage a blog, “ says Little Bird’s Head of Marketing, Julie Zisman. “The executive team had smart questions about accountability and PR, but they were fear-based. Most businesses including mine wanted to control the message and positioning in any public conversation.

Well, the horse has left the barn on conversation control, but now businesses have some idea about when and how they should participate.

Where Opportunity Comes From

It’s not just about broadcasting your marketing messages into the place where the conversations are happening, either.  (Thought that’s certainly valid as part of a strategy.)  It’s also about connecting with people.  As venture capitalist and entrepreneur Rich Stromback said about his unconventional but successful approach to offline networking at the World Economic Forum, “Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They are attached to people.”  (See HBR’s 99% of Networking is a Waste of Time, found via Little Bird investor Tytus Michalski, using Little Bird.)

I love that way of framing it, “Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They are attached to people.”

Own Your Social Networking

And that goes for the online social world as well. Enterprise influence marketing thought leader Amy Lewis issues a call to arms to do social with pride in an episode of her excellent podcast The Geek Whisperers (“our secret sauce for Social Media for the Enterprise”), which she co-hosts with John Troyer and Matthew Brender.  I’ve transcribed an excerpt below.

“I think that one of the things that as unicorns we forget and and the Geek Whisperers have taught me this, is you have got to punch up sometimes. So, going up to the executive level and and making a case for what you do.  

“This is Troyer 101: give it a name. The whole concept of influence marketing came around because social media had gotten a little bit of that negative, fluffy, ‘take a picture of your breakfast’ brand. Influence marketing; you can talk about it without blushing and and I would encourage people to think about what you’re doing, stop apologizing for it because you truly are networking in a different way.

“Your social media channels are a virtual golf course in so many ways. There’s a thousand ways you can spin it. Put your marketing hat on, and don’t blush, absolutely defend what you’re doing and show it with results. 

“[You’ve] got a lot of content, like you said, so there’s output, he’s measurable, you can pass those measurements up. Just don’t apologize. I think too often we’ve done business like, ‘Oh, I want to go have a beer with my friends.’   “It’s not that, it is part of an ongoing relationship building thing that no one in pure sales would blush over. They’d say, ‘I’m going to the golf course, and by gosh that’s exactly the right thing I should be doing.’ Everybody would clap them on the back for doing it. 

“So, this is the geek’s version of that and we should frame it in a way that it is a little more familiar to the powers that be and and really be strong, own it.”

In Case You Missed It the First Time, Own It

Get in the game. Get in and help build those opportunities. Just like the rise of other mediums of communication, this is a historic moment. Now is the time for you to engage.

Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They are attached to people. And there are lots and lots of people using the social web, more every day.

Now I'm a Believer: Social Demand Generation

  • 08 January 2015
  • By Julie Zisman

As a veteran B2B marketer, I’ve seen demand generation trends and tactics come and go all with varying degrees of efficiency. I know how to use retargeting, email marketing, events, PPC, SEO and content syndication to scale sales leads for large and small organizations. Until now, I never got the impact of B2B social demand generation.

I struggled to attribute quality lead generation to social advertising, twitter cards and promoted tweets. (Are you asking yourself, why did she join Little Bird?) I do believe in the power of great content and of word-of-mouth marketing. In my opinion, influencer marketing leverages social networks to drive word-of-mouth marketing at scale and the right people (or influencers) accelerate reach. I have the opportunity to prove my theory and see if real business impact can be achieved. I get to use our product and great content mostly created by someone who is already considered a tech influencer by many (Marshall Kirkpatrick).

There are very few marketing investments that I could make that would yield this type of return on effort. (But it looks like it’s time to double down!)

In case you don’t know, Little Bird is a small, early stage company with a hungry sales organization that loves inbound leads. We don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing right now and most leads come through the organic reach of our content from the website, social media and marketing automation efforts.

I’m also a new user of the Little Bird platform and while I believe in our vision, I came to the party with low expectations. Guess what? After my first 45 days, consider me a believer. Some practicalities. First, I started by:

  • Running a report on marketing influencers.
  • Discovering the most relevant influencers and the content they were sharing with each other.
  • Populating our social channels with a combination of that content and Little Bird authored content. (There were a few Little Bird call-to-action pieces, but it was largely thought leadership.)
  • Encouraging Marshall to spark several conversations around our posts and engage with authors on both Twitter and LinkedIn. See previous blog post.

And the results? This was one of those unique opportunities, where you get to go from completely dark on marketing spend and effort to executing an organic social content program.

In 45 days, we gained:

  • 217 fans and followers
  • 766 visits to our website
  • 75 marketing qualified leads
  • 30 enterprise discovery calls for our sales organization

This was done for the cost of our platform (for enterprise companies it averages about $2K per month) and about 15-30 minutes of my time, each work day. Without Little Bird that research process alone takes at least an hour or two. While that volume may seem thin to some, look at our conversion to “sales qualified leads.” Hubspot (our marketing automation system) tells me that we are getting more out of our social efforts than at least 44% of their other clients.

There are very few marketing investments that I could make that would yield this type of return on effort. (But it looks like it’s time to double down!) And, it doesn’t take into account other strategic Little Bird uses. Information from the platform helps shape our go-to-market strategy, press and analyst relationships and in the very near future we will leverage it for promotional media buys. I’m so excited for the opportunity to be a guinea pig for the Little Bird product. I’ll be sure to continue to share marketing results as Little Bird continues to grow.

5 Really Smart Social Things a Guy Named Phil Walton Does and You Can Too

  • 05 January 2015
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Tonight on Twitter, I came into contact with a Salesforce Consultant from the UK named Phil Walton. His online presence so struck me that I thought I’d share some thoughts on best practices that I see him exemplifying. Both on Twitter and on his blog.

I don’t know Phil Walton from anybody. He hadn’t hit my radar much before today, but the Internet is big—and this is a guy who knows how to make connections.

Let’s watch and learn…

  1. He picked a topic and he's consistent. Phil writes about getting started with Salesforce. (In particular he finds relevant resources from around the web.) That's his topic and he's more or less sticking to it. He's been blogging for years. Authoring content weekly, it's an incredible scope of work.

Imagine yourself a public figure. If you're looking to grow your social capital online, then that's what you're aiming to be. A public figure's gotta be out there in the public eye consistently.

  1. He's succinct and accessible. Simply put: we could all be more succinct. They say 2015 is the year of video marketing—because reading is more work than people are willing to put in.
  2. He curates. Phil finds useful content and he links to it, often multiple resources in each blog post. He credits other people freely. He's not afraid to send people off of his own site. He's adding value. Well done, Phil.
  3. He summarizes. One of the best ways to add value is by investing your intellectual labor into producing a shorter, summarized version of a large amount of text that's of interest to other people. Check out Phil's round up of Salesforce Spring '15 highlights. It's so short and easy to read. Nice value add.

Now let's talk about Phil's use of Twitter. This is where I found him and he's good at Twitter, too.

  1. He references influencers appropriately and effectively

Look at this play by play: If you look at how Phil and I connected, he saw a cartoon in the newspaper that reminded him of Little Bird. He took a picture of the printed paper and tweeted it to my @marshallk handle. I laughed out loud at the funny cartoon and started following Phil. I thanked him. He followed me back.

After that Phil follows up with me, publicly, saying yes he’s familiar with our work and has admired it since our collaboration with international B2B super-star Matt Heinz (@heinzmarketing). Now, I can look at the Little Bird data and know that Phil’s been following Matt for a long time, longer than many people in his market. But he’s never pestered Matt on Twitter. He’s mentioned him twice before today, once in reference to the project he cited in our conversation. This is real, genuine stuff! And Phil’s a guy who knows what he wants—our data indicates that he went straight to the top and followed Mark Benioff right away, before any other account in the Salesforce ecosystem, when he started using Twitter.

So, he’s been following Matt for a long time and has been waiting until he has opportunities to address him authentically. Today he did, in a thread clearly conversing with me (whom Matt knows) and boom - Matt Heinz followed him back.

Then what does Phil do? He publicly thanks Matt and suggests that the two of them connect in person either with a visit or (lower pressure) a phone call, next time Phil’s in Matt’s half of the United States. Smooth, Phil, smooth. Tell me how Matt’s new office looks if you get to visit, because his old one was packed to the roof with hustlers climbing on a rocket ship. ;)

The net result? Matt and Phil and I are all connected now, Phil’s suggested with great dignity that he talk offline to the both of us, and I’m so impressed that I’m writing this blog post.

I think we’d all be well served by picking up some of Phil Walton’s social media practices. Good to meet you, Phil.

Rocking the Tradeshow: Your Influencer Marketing Homework

  • 19 December 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

How do you go to a big event like CES and come back with new business? Charm, hustle and serendipity all help - but, as we mentioned, laying the groundwork ahead of time on social media can make any real-world event far more valuable.

Here are a few best practices we recommend, with regard to influencer relations, before, during and after a big event.


You don’t want to go to a big event and not know anyone. Or know who anyone important or interesting is. I remember going to events where I stopped even squinting at name tags because I didn’t know anyone’s name, anyway. No, you want to show up prepared and rock it like a pro, online and off.

First, identify who will be representing your company onsite. Is it your marketing, executive or sales team? Perhaps all of them? Regardless make sure they get their Twitter and LinkedIn profiles on-message and on-brand. Everyone should have a complete Twitter profile with a recognizable photo and links to career or company information. Influencers will do on-the-fly research and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find relevant information.

Next, find some key people who are really influential in your field of interest. These are people who are going to see cool things first, they’re going to share things most consistently and if engaged, they might just talk about you. Additionally, by knowing the right people to pay attention to, you’ll dramatically amplify your effectiveness in preparing for the event and seeing pre-event content in context. The difference between going in well-informed and not, is as easy as investing time paying attention to the right people.

When you have a prioritized list of influencers you can start by:

  • Following them on Twitter.
  • Subscribing to their blogs via email or in an RSS feed.
  • Registering for their YouTube channels.
  • Carefully considering sending a LinkedIn contact requests. (This may prove much more meaningful after the event)

Then Engage with their content.

  • Favorite, retweet and/or share their content.
  • Provide comments back to the influencer.

The number of people who actually do this, and add anything intelligent to the conversation on social media, is shockingly small. The opportunity for you to build relationships with famous or moderately influential people is big.

Before you leave for the event - consider making a list of people you’d like to try to connect with. If you’ve engaged with them online, ask them if they’d like to meet face while at the event. You can give them your cell phone number and offer to text each other to connect sometime for a few minutes. Before you do, you might enjoy looking them up on a system like to learn even more about their lives and work.

In a B2B or B2B2C context, though, it’s not just about the size of a person’s megaphone. It’s about how integrated they are in the community, their authenticity. The insiders’ insiders are the source of the best nuggets of influence and insight. Once a mega-popular voice shares something, it’s probably relatively late in the news cycle. B2C brands can benefit from credible connections to big, popular voices when they’re looking for mass distribution—but B2B businesses like consumer electronic manufacturers need a foundation of high-context influencers to shape markets and opinions.

Finally, engaging with people online is easiest to do if you set things up to be interrupted by opportunities. Turn on mobile push notifications on your phone for select people and their Tweets will be right in front of your face - much easier to remember to make contact with. Just showing up is the first step.


Once you’ve arrived, it’s time to combine the online and the face to face. Keep reading those tweets, push notifications are your friend, and be active online yourself. Participate in hashtags, post photos from the event, favorite other peoples’ content. Imagine yourself a public figure, a public commentator or reporter - because you are one, or are going to make yourself one. And then your attendance at events is going to get a lot more interesting.

Two good ways to bridge the online and the offline at events are to think about deepening existing online relationships and strengthening brand new ones.

  • Go out of your way to connect with a few people you’ve interacted with online for a long time, they’ll really appreciate it. Online relationships can really be cemented through offline time together - but you don’t want to be a pest, either. Keep it brief, influential people are a little like the hosts of a party.
  • Watch for opportunities to find and introduce yourself to people you just started interacting with recently. Face to face is a great way to say to a new contact, “I’m genuinely interested in your work.”
  • Comment on social networks about live sessions. Influencers will appreciate it. It shows you’re listening, which is super important to do. Engage in conversation: listen and respond in ways that contribute value to the person you’re talking to, not just to yourself. Authenticity wins the day.


Particularly influential people, speakers and other folks, won’t remember you in much detail after you meet at an event. If you made a good impression, though, then you can follow up and connect more deeply.

Again, online and offline support one another. Make a Twitter list and bookmark it in your browser, or do something else that makes it easy to keep an eye on people you connected with at the event and sometimes engage with their content.

After, not at, an event is also a great time to reach out to a lot of people and ask for a briefing or demo phone call or meeting.


In summary, identifying a high-value short list of people who may be at an event, like CES, watching and engaging with them and their content, then building on your online activity through brief and dignified face to face conversation, then following up afterwards to tell people about yourself and get to know them better… that’s a good way to do it. It’s worked well for me, on both sides of the equation, and that’s what I recommend for you as well.

Social media has made people more accessible than ever before. Now it’s about focus, execution and humanity. You can do it! You’re a lot like everyone else, everyone made their connections by being interesting, thoughtful, considerate, outgoing and hard working! A big public event can be a very unique opportunity to develop relationships that end up acting as a foundation for taking your business or career to the next level!

Prepping Influencer Outreach for CES

  • 16 December 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

It’s almost the new year, and while many companies are focused on the holidays, a lot of consumer electronic businesses are looking ahead to 2015 International CES. More commonly known as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), this event is an internationally renowned electronics and technology trade show that attracts major companies and industry professionals each January in Las Vegas. Not open to the public, the show typically features previews of products and new product announcements.

Large consumer electronic brands typically spend six-figure budgets at this show. Their primary goal is to make sure that the “insider” (a.k.a. influencer) community knows about their products.

Why this significant investment?

  • Influential people are like conduits: because they have a high-impact voice, they are told things early.
  • In the social sphere, newness and coolness are the currency of the land.
  • The closer you can get to those key influential people, the more likely you are not just to get your own message out, but to hear other important developments early.
  • In the networked social economy, when you hear important developments early, you can take action and often obtain the competitive edge.

In a B2B or B2B2C context, though, it’s not just about the size of a person’s megaphone. It’s about how integrated they are in the community, their authenticity. The insiders’ insiders are the source of the best nuggets of influence and insight. Once a mega-popular voice shares something, it’s probably relatively late in the news cycle. B2C brands can benefit from credible connections to big, popular voices when they’re looking for mass distribution—but B2B businesses like consumer electronic manufacturers need a foundation of high-context influencers to shape markets and opinions.

To help them prepare, we have four reports that identify the three ‘known’ and three “under the radar” influencers for specific areas of the event. The first report will identify influencers for the broad CES event and three additional reports will cover: mobile, the Internet of things (IoT) and robotics. Register for access to the reports.

Stay tuned for our next blog post on Friday, December 19th that will discuss how to best use influencer data before, during and after the event. Do you have tips to share? Email me at and I’ll be sure to include them with credit!

6 Ways to Use Little Bird

  • 09 December 2014
  • By Tina Lumbis

Little Bird is described as a tool for influencer marketing, and while it certainly does that, in my experience it can be used well beyond the scope of identifying influencers. As the Digital Marketing Manager at WHIPTAIL, this tool made my life much easier and I would refer to it as my personal assistant. Since that time LB has become even more powerful. Below are six ways I suggest using the tool (I recommend reviewing their tour first).

  1. Create Accurate Reports with Followerwonk

    Followerwonk is a free tool from the wonderful Moz. While there is some overlap in what both tools try to do, Followerwonk only scratches the surface. However, its Bios Search can help you find Twitter Profiles that would make good Little Bird “Choose Personas” additions or replacements. Here’s how:

    • * Using Followerwonk, go to Search Twitter Bios and do a “search Twitter profiles” search for the same term you plan on using to run your Little Bird report.
    • * Sort the results by Social Authority.
    • * Switch over to Little Bird, and begin setting up a report. Use the top Followerwonk results to either add personas or replace irrelevant personas during step two.
    • * Confirm choices in LB and create your report.
  2. Enable Employees

    Employees want to be socially active and in my experience they want to be socially active on Twitter. While I encouraged (read begged) them to also use LinkedIn (we were a B2B company), I did my best to make establishing oneself on Twitter easier. The biggest misstep for employees is not having something relevant and non-salesy to talk about. Enter Little Bird’s Insider Blogs. These lists can be exported and imported into an RSS Reader. (Note: Go through the list first as they tend to be less relevant after the top 10-20 blogs. You also my want to take out competitors.) Here’s how to enable employees:

    • * Export the Insider Blogs for all relevant reports.
    • * Clean up the list by removing any irrelevant and/or competitor blogs. As mentioned, you will likely only want to use the top 10-20 blogs from this list.
    • * Make these OPML files available to employees with instructions for importing the files into an RSS reader. Bonus points if you also provide tips and guidelines to using social media to develop one’s professional brand.
    • * Encourage employees to go through these blogs on a regular basis and share content that is relevant to their current and prospective social media followers.
  3. Content Research and Social Sharing

    Nobody wants to follow the Twitter account of a company that only talks about its own “news.” Little Bird helps companies become influencers and prove themselves as experts by helping to identify relevant content to be shared via social media platforms. Here’s how to do content research and improve social sharing:

    • * Follow the above steps for Enabling Employees, but do not remove competitors.
    • * Go through these blogs every morning to find non-competing content from trusted sources to share under the company’s handles/profiles. This will help broaden the scope of what the company shares and help make connections with influencers (who doesn’t love their blog being shared by others?!).
    • * Going through these blogs every morning will help you develop a content plan and additionally you will be doing content research. What topics are popular? What topics are not shared as much, but had potential (hint: borrow from these!)? What content are competitors focused on and how is this content doing with its audience? (I’ll get to another tool that’s free and can help with this in a future post).
    • * In addition to the RSS feeds, I recommend checking the “Share and Engage” section every morning to see what is trending in real time.
  4. Influencer Exclusives

    So you’ve done all the obvious Little Bird things like identify influencers, follow them, looked at how these guys compare to you and your competitors’ accounts. That’s a great start! But let’s take it a step further and start a relationship with these top influencers. Here’s how to take the next step:

    • * Look at the insiders for a specific report and identify the top ladies and gentlemen.
    • * Invite these people via Twitter, LinkedIn, email (whatever!) to an exclusive virtual or in-person event. Consider giving them information/insight that no one has yet, such as a sneak-peak at an upcoming product, in order to entice them to want to join the event. Treat them like press because if they’re active bloggers with extended social media reach, then they have equal influence to, if not more than, the press.
    • * Consider doing a targeted local report for where field marketing events and tradeshows will be. Follow the same exclusive, influencer-invite-only approach.
  5. Advertising

    Twitter’s Promoted Tweets and Followers Campaigns allow users to input @usernames to be used so that Twitter can target people similar to that user and his/her followers. Use the influencers from an LB report as examples for a targeted Twitter campaign. Here’s how:

    • * After running your LB report, sort the Twitter insiders by topic and export that list into a CSV.
    • * Import that CSV into the Twitter campaign setup.
    • * Create a campaign appropriate for those insiders and targeted to the report’s subject matter, e.g., Enterprise Storage.
  6. Professional Growth

    You don’t just want to find influencers, you also want to become an influencer yourself. Don’t limit your reports to industry news. Consider running reports for professional topics, e.g., marketing, product management, sales, etc. Share these with your colleagues to enable them as well as yourself. Here’s how to use reports for professional growth:

    • * Create reports on professional topics, e.g., online marketing.
    • * Read through the trending topics on the Share and Engage page as well as the RSS feeds.
    • * Share interesting stories along with your two cents via LinkedIn and/or other relevant social platforms.
    • * Follow insiders and monitor content for trends.
    • * I hope this was helpful! If you are a current Little Bird user, please share how you use the tool in the comments below.

NOTE: This content was originally posted on Tina’s blog. We encourage you to visit her site.

How to avoid getting FTC slapped for your Tweets like agency Deutsch LA just did

  • 01 December 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

While the old world was getting ready for Black Friday last week, the new economy was hashing out some ethical questions, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission.

This is a story about a tempting but dumb way to use the internet at work.

TL;DR: marketing agency staff Tweeted about how great their client’s product was without disclosing they were a client, which the FTC complaint alleged was deceptive and against the rules. People have been waiting for this to happen, and Ad Age says this was the first instance of FTC action against Tweet payola.

Whether you’re doing paid, owned or earned media here are 3 tips for staying legal while rocking the social web harder than ever, from a influence marketing practitioner’s perspective.

  1. Paid media: Call ads ads, probably stick with official channels and if you’re paying an influential person to talk about you then make sure they say they received payment. Paid advocacy is usually a bad idea anyway; have you seen the kind of “influencers” available for payola on the pay-to-play influencer advocacy websites? Cheap looking is one way to describe them. High quality paid endorsements are expensive and are very clearly paid for.

  2. Owned media: When producing your own content, even tiny Tweets, speak in your own voice, reflecting your true relationship with the product. As one marketing exec who chose to speak to the WSJ anonymously said well, “there’s a pretty big difference between tweeting, ‘Hey, check out this amazing new product’ versus, ‘Check out our new campaign.’”

  3. Earned media: You want independent people to say good things about you? You’re going to have to earn it. Focus on the people that other people trust, watch for opportunities to engage with them online, then reach out to them or just be visible to them and let them choose to talk about you freely. They’ll win social capital points by telling their friends about this awesome new thing/company/product they discovered: yours. People want to find and share cool things on the internet. It helps if they know and trust you, so put some time into that.

Don’t lie to try to get people to give you money. And yes this is a case of lying by omission!

That’s my advice. Here’s the FTC’s advice to agencies. I especially like this part: ““But we like it! We really like it!” Some endorsers justify their failure to disclose a material connection on the ground that they truly like the product they’re touting. Of course, it’s important that endorsements “reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the endorser” – but that’s not the sole criterion for legal compliance. Genuine enthusiasm for a product doesn’t change the obligation to disclose all material connections.”

Companies large and small use Little Bird to give their media a big boost, across paid, owned and earned. Drop us a line to find out more.

Leveraging the Network for Content Discovery: Now Better Than Ever at Little Bird

  • 23 October 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Little Bird is a powerful, unique, people-first way to find great news and content about your industry or target market - and this week it got even better at finding what’s hot. It’s all about leveraging the smartest people in the network to discover great opportunities.

“The value I find in this feature is how Little Bird saves me time”, says Madeline Wigen at Jama Software. “It helps me find authentic content from a community that I can quickly share out to the people I’m looking to reach. Little Bird filters out the noise and I can go from there.”

And now it’s even better. Three big new changes can now be found on the Share and Engage page of every report:

I. The Freshness

The hottest news is now limited to the last 24 hours. That means you can come back every day and find new hot content from the leading experts in your field. Turn off that limit and you’ll get a summary of what’s hottest over the past few days or week.

II. The Hotness

We’re always careful not to let the loudest voices dominate our listening - it’s about the relevance of the source, not their popularity; now we’re calling-out links that have been shared by smaller voices but have gotten far more traction than those voices usually get when they post. Check out the color codes next to each item on the page and you’ll see how hot an item is relative to how much this source usually sees its content reshared.

III. The Realness

On the right hand side of the page we’ll now show a preview of the link that’s been shared for even easier reading. Like it? Consider resharing it out onto other social networks, like LinkedIn or Facebook - that’s a great way to add value.

“There’s nothing like Little Bird”, says long-time marketing customer Kyle Wiebalk of August Elephant. “When we’re looking at a B2B space that I’m not familiar with, I can pull a couple of reports, look at the content section and get familiar with the state of conversation really quickly. From getting up to speed through drilling down, it’s really helpful.”

And now it’s better than ever. Now let’s go forth and harness the incredible discovery power of the network!

Background and context

As you know, we start by figuring out the best sources where we think the future is most likely to emerge. We map out tens of thousands of connections between hundreds or thousands of people in a field and we find for you the most-connected specialists, experts and influencers: the center of the community.

Then, if you visit our page called Share and Engage on any report - we find the content that those people at the center of that community are sharing and that’s getting reshared the most.

It is an incredible super-power to be able to say “Little Bird, find the world’s leading experts on 3D printing online and tell me what they’re most excited about today!”

As a former journalist and someone who loves to learn, this feature makes me want to sing from the rooftop of the Little Bird office. For a long time, really loud. As a businessperson who believes that content creation, curation and engagement is an increasingly strategic part of marketing - I think that Share and Engage page is a key part of the huge value Little Bird delivers.

Want to do some Earned Media? Engage with this highlight-reel of content and build your credibility and connections before a big marketing push. What to find inspiration for your Owned Media? Check out what’s resonating among leaders in the field.

All of this works great in a mobile browser, too. I’ve got Share and Engage pages on multiple reports for our market, our supply chain, our competitors and more bookmarked in Mobile Safari so I can quickly and easy see what’s hot and find content to engage with on the go.

Big thanks to developer Adam Jetmalani and designer Jason Zeiber for their work on this. I’m really proud of where we’ve taken this content discovery feature and I’m confident it will drive a lot of value for Little Bird customers.

Now Hiring: Customer Success Team Member

  • 20 October 2014
  • By MJ

Do you believe that the social web is transforming the world - but has the potential to make even greater impact in the future? Do you love to learn, to compete, to help others learn and to win?

If so, we’d like to invite you to grow your career by joining Portland’s high-flying data startup Little Bird. Founded by former journalist Marshall Kirkpatrick, backed by world-famous investors like Mark Cuban and built by a team of fun loving, hard working, fast learning people aimed to change the social web - Little Bird has won the attention of marketing and sales professionals all around the world.

We’ve got 5 of the Fortune 50 as early customers, we’ve got incredible new capabilities we’re bringing to market and we’ve got a network of supporters that any startup would be envious of, in or outside Silicon Valley.

What do we do? We help people discover new voices, new insights and new opportunities on the social web, quickly and efficiently. We turn social media into a profit center for sales and marketing organizations.



As Little Bird’s next Customer Success Team Member, you will:

Guide prospective and current customers in the effective use and understanding of Little Bird capabilities and offerings to support their initial purchase and ongoing renewal of services. Our Customer’s success is our success - and believing that mantra is essential to this role.

Collaborate to help shape team goals, activities, and practices to continuously augment the effective use and understanding of Little Bird capabilities and offerings. Little Bird offers competitive compensation and benefits.


Essential Responsibilities

  • Engage in strategic dialouge with prospective and current customers to increase their understanding and use of Little Bird capabilities and offerings via multiple channels, including live chat, email, social media, and direct contact
  • Collaborate to provide social media research and engagement consulting and services to Little Bird customers
  • Collaborate to help create and enhance user guidance materials
  • Collaborate to help create and perfect support, communication, and tracking systems and practices to increase customer acquisition and retention and build team efficiency
  • Elicit and collect user feedback to inform product development
  • Know our Customers, their needs, and their challenges to position our offerings and help them solve real business problems and exceed their goals every day
  • Help to ensure Customer conversions and renewals
  • Identify opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling



  • Passion for Customer-centric approach in all things
  • Fantastic communication skills, spoken and written, in multiple channels and media
  • Deep understanding of and personal experience in the value of social engagement online
  • A strong work ethic and consistent follow-through
  • An ability to convert challenges into opportunities
  • A willingness to adapt based on input from colleagues and changing circumstances
  • Shared culture and values with the Little Bird team
  • Full-time work availability
  • Work from an office in Portland, Oregon
  • Prior work experience in the fields of tech, client service, marketing, advertising, journalism, or public relations
  • Prior experience convincing and/or teaching people to do things
  • Experience in a startup environment


Apply Now

Email resume and cover letter to Thanks, we look forward to meeting you!

Who To Know at Dreamforce - Finding Your Connections Online

  • 13 October 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Who are the super-connected people among the crowds at Dreamforce? You might be standing right next to one and not even know it - until now.

Matt Heinz of Heinz Consulting Matt Heinz, one of the world's very top experts in marketing automation and social selling, likes to run Little Bird reports analyzing the online communities around all the events that he and his clients go to.

Dreamforce is no different, but this year we partnered with Matt to offer a personalized version of the sample Little Bird report you see below.

Dreamforce14 Analysis Slideshare

Here's Matt's post about the top 50 influencers at the event - as measured by connection to their peers online. These are the most-listened-to members of the Dreamforce community - by other members of the Dreamforce community.

Get your own personalized copy of the report above

  • Plug in your company's Twitter handle and your contact info below, and we'll make a copy of this report with you in it, just like Matt appears with his connections analyzed on the 6th page.
  • PLUS - in addition to the top 50 people at Dreamforce, your personalized report will include a list of the top 20 COMPANIES (beyond Salesforce) who are the most influential corporate members of the Dreamforce community.

Social selling: How to rock your prep for any call with Little Bird influencer research

  • 30 September 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Before every call and meeting we have with external companies, we fire up a few relevant Little Bird reports and super-charge our preparation with graph-powered research. These small steps can deliver big wins fast.

Many Little Bird users who practice social selling do this kind of research already, but I think it can be super helpful for everyone.

Here's how you can do it. You can follow all of these steps on your desktop or your mobile web browser.

I. Run a Little Bird report on your contact's company

  1. See who's at the top of that community
  2. See what's hot in the company's online community by visiting the Share and Engage page
  3. See where your contact stands in the Discover Connections page
    • How connected are they?
    • Who did they connect with first? That will tell you a lot about their background and relationship with the company
  4. See where you and your company stand in the Discover Connections page
    • Who else do you know and who knows you?
    • Who else at the company knows about your company?

Below: Let's say I was about to call someone from the incredible data science company Kaggle...

II. Run a report on their industry or market

  1. See what's hot in that sector, so you've got it on your radar and can talk about it if the opportunity arises to demonstrate your familiarity
  2. See how connected the person you'll be talking to is by using the Discover Connections page
    • How savvy are they? (Who do they know to follow?)
    • How influential are they? (Who knows and follows them?)
    • Who did they first connect with among thought leaders in the industry?
    • Who have they recently been paying attention to and forming new connections with?

III. Have a report ready on your competitors, too (ask your Customer Success guide for help if you don't have one of these already created)

  1. Plug the person you're talking to into Discover Connections and see how familiar with your competitors they are
  2. See which, if any, they've had long-running connections with and who they've connected with recently.

Once you get this flow down, you can do it quickly and it can make a huge difference in how you communicate with people - it puts them in context by analyzing their connections.

Want to find out more about how Little Bird can help super-charge your organization's work by measuring and growing your connections to influential people online? Drop us a line and we'll be in touch.

Influencer Marketing: Avoid Pitfalls & Tap into Deeper Value

  • 21 September 2014
  • By Carmen Hill

Influencer marketing can help spread the word about your brand and expose your content to a much broader audience. But brand advocacy is only the tip of the iceberg. There's much deeper value just below the surface.

Full-Circle Influencer Marketing: Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg

Identifying and reaching influencers is important, but it's just one small part of the deeper value that a strategic approach can deliver, with the ultimate goal of earned advocacy. Much like earned media, Little Bird CEO Marshall Kirkpatrick says earned advocacy is the the most valuable (and, possibly, elusive) outcome of influencer marketing. But there are pitfalls.

In his talk at Hubspot's INBOUND conference last week, Marshall shared his perspective on how to avoid those pitfalls—think cold, irrelevant pitches—and successfully engage with influencers.

You can listen in on Marshall's expert advice by registering for his webinar on Wednesday, September 24 (9am Pacific). Reserve your seat now!

Photo by Arslan – Creative Commons Photo by Arslan – Creative Commons

When done right, advocacy creates a virtuous circle that builds social capital and pays ongoing dividends for your business. But this circle runs counter-clockwise, and it doesn't start with pitching influencers.

Step 1. Listen to the smartest people in your field

Start by doing a little research. Gather market intelligence through the eyes of others. "Ask an influential person to talk about you and you'll be happy for a day," Marshall says. "Learn to listen to the best and you'll capture business value all year long."

Step 2. Create, curate and share the best content

Dig deeper on what others have to offer. For example, read what your customers, prospects and thought leaders in your field are reading. Contribute to the conversation.

Step 3. Build relationships that lead to earned advocacy

Finally, be genuinely curious, purposeful and generous as you build relationships. For example, when I recently met Pam Didner, an influential expert in global content marketing, the very first thing she said was, "How can I help you?" Now that's a great way to start a conversation!

For too many marketers, influencer marketing or advocacy begins and ends with finding the most popular influencers and hitting them up for a favor. As Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, recently said, "The day to start recruiting influencers is not on the day you need them."

Ready to take your influencer marketing to a deeper level? Don't miss Marshall's webinar. Register now to attend or to view the recording and slides.

Grow Your Reach with Effective Influencer Discovery & Engagement

  • 14 September 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Reflection_from_Polarized_Filter___Flickr_-_Photo_Sharing_Imagine you've been working hard for months on a major new project that you and your team will soon be ready to release into the wild. You've invested a lot of resources and you're making a big bet on your new work making a major splash.

Who are you going to tell about the project when it's time to announce it? Who do you already know that would be good to tell - and who ought you know? Are there influential people online that you should reach out to and if so, is there a more effective way to find them than by searching for keywords in the messages they've posted on Twitter or Facebook?

Influencer identification and engagement to maximize your online marketing reach is one of the things Little Bird can help with.

It's one of two big problems the Little Bird customers use our technology and support to solve.

  • Targeted outreach: The social web is noisy and it's hard to know who to focus on in order to grow your marketing reach. Little Bird zeroes in on who influences the influencers.
  • Fewer surprises: Traditional social media monitoring and keyword search can only discover what's already happened, leaving a large element of surprise in the "unknown unknowns" that emerge on the social web. Little Bird helps companies watch key people who likely to discover important information early in the future.

Influencer discovery to grow marketing reach

There are hundreds of millions of people participating on the social web, posting billions of messages online, and marketers struggle to find the right people to focus on to build relationships that will expand their reach online and offline.

Little Bird discovers who influences the influencers and who the most trusted experts are online in the context of a specific market or topic. Then we help build and measure earned influencer relationships that can be leveraged around announcements and that result in perpetual advocacy year round. Those relationships grow market visibility, credibility, traffic, conversions and revenue.

What that looks like

Several months ago, a multi-billion dollar industrial software company came to Little Bird in anticipation of several product launches. They asked for our help identifying which thought leaders in relevant industries were most trusted and closely watched by their peers online.

Below: Little Bird's influential connections in the Marketing Automation industry, for example. Visit the Discover Connections page on any Little Bird report to do this analysis and much more for your company, your competitors, sales prospects, etc. Click to zoom.
Related: Content Marketing: 3 Ways Companies Use Little Bird to Super-Charge Their Campaigns

We helped that company find:

  • the most important and relevant influencers they already had in their online audience
  • the most important influencers they didn't yet have connections with and could engage with (with additional insight into which industry influencers their competitors were and weren't connected to yet as well)
  • the news and conversations those trusted experts were discussing, sharing and most excited about, so that our customer could target those conversations for engaging in in order to grow their relationships with thought leaders in the industry.

The result? Little Bird's technology and customer success team helped that company discover, vet and connect with two times as many thought leaders as it had before we engaged in just their first three months leveraging our platform.

Want to learn more about what Little Bird can do for you and your company? Please tell us a little about yourself and we'll get in touch.

photo: Stephen Durham, Reflection from Polarized Filter, Creative Commons by attribution on Flickr

Was Content Marketing World Worth Attending? Yes, and Here's Why

  • 11 September 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

PrintThe 2,500 attendee trade show called Content Marketing World concluded tonight with a tornado warning and a fantastic keynote from Kevin Spacey. It (Spacey, that is) was full of smart, quotable, on-topic commentary and humor about the rapidly changing world of art, business and where they come together.

Business is a hustle though and the world is full of opportunities. Was it worth it to spend 5 days (with travel) in Cleveland, Ohio? This was my first trip to the event. I'd argue that it was worth it and here's why.


As a company that sells an enterprise social marketing and research solution, Content Marketing World offered us promising business opportunities. We got to meet with some current and some potential customers; from well-funded startups through savvy Fortune 500 companies. The trip resulted in far more pipeline than it cost in cash to attend.

Enterprise social software marketing often struggles with attribution of revenue but in this case, if some of these great conversations result in partnerships, then we'll have some hard ROI numbers to attribute. Then we'll drive ROI with said partners and we'll all make a toast together next year in Cleveland. That's the plan.

Influencer relations

The attendees of Content Marketing World included many of the most influential people in the industry and it was great to get to spend time with them face to face.

Influencer discovery and engagement is what we do here at Little Bird, so before the event I ran a Little Bird report mapping 2000 of the most influential people in the world of content marketing. I personally saw 5 out of the top 10 of them standing within an arms length of me in the hallways, and they were friendly and accessible. Any more detail than that would just be bragging, so I'll stop. It was awesome though - and that face to face time is a great accelerator of online relationships. (Fill out a form to see a beautiful free sample report on the influencers of Content Marketing World.)

Photo: I only saw one of these three myself, but I'm glad they're able to make jokes about their mega internet fame before the social web implodes as a result of their proximity. Photo by Mitch Joel.


I came away from the first keynote of the event, by author Andrew Davis, so inspired that I ran back to my hotel room and created a whole new marketing deck of customer stories for my company.

And I concluded the event catching just the last 30 minutes of Kevin Spacey's keynote and struggling to write down all the awesome, inspiring, thoughtful things he said.

  • "In a time of chaos, rules don't apply," said the public face of ground-breaking Netflix original content. "And it's those who make their own rules, those who give customers what they want, when and how they want it, will win."
  • "For people like you and me, there is no longer any excuse. We just need to get a f'ing move on. For people like us, there has never been a better time to create. It's the risk takers who are rewarded."
  • "Authenticity has a lot to do with what's successful in content marketing. Start with: what story do I want to tell?"

Lots more from Spacey; I highly recommend seeing him speak if you get the opportunity.

Not every session I attended was great, but many were. I missed a lot too, because it was a busy week for work outside of the conference. I especially appreciated though several sessions on the Wall St. Journal Expo Floor stage, including the panel on The Future of Content Marketing.

Little Bird's Director of Marketing Carmen Hill is a serial CMWorld attendee and said she went to lots of great sessions. The analytics intensive led by Andy Crestodina "paid for my entire trip" she Tweeted, and Deltek's Kristin Connell said she 100% agreed.


Was the event fun? I think a lot of other people had a lot of traditional fun. I spent a lot of my time here in Cleveland having meetings, doing phone calls and getting ready to speak at Hubspot's conference Inbound next week in Boston.

But did I have fun? Yeah - in my world (and I bet in yours!), making great business connections, face to face conversation with people who've built global influence by blazing new trails in their craft and learning a lot is my definition of fun.

I bet that meets your standards for fun, too. So I think Content Marketing World was worth going to. Did you go? Have you been in the past? We'd love to hear about the ROI others experienced.

Influencers from Around the World: Mapping the CMWorld Community

  • 10 September 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

This week we're at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio, meeting with people and companies from around the world who are investing in content as a way to grow their brands. Where do they come from? Everywhere.

We used Little Bird's social graph technology to discover the most-connected people online, from around the world, in the Content Marketing World Community. You can take a look at that data and see what a Little Bird report includes here. (Little Bird's social graph technology is language agnostic, too, so it can power discovery and engagement with people writing online anywhere in the world.)

The map from that report shows that this community really is global. Its leaders hail from all around the world, but especially from the Eastern US, the Western US, Europe and Australia. If you're at the event, we hope to connect with you - but we also hope you'll connect with other new business contacts from all around the world.


Influence Marketing #IRL: Online Followers to Offline Friends

  • 09 September 2014
  • By Carmen Hill

Get ready to rock Content Marketing World with a free Little Bird #CMWorld influencer report.

As I write this, it’s my birthday. I’m on a 6:20 am flight to Cleveland, drinking crap coffee with processed cheese spread and crackers for breakfast. Sound like a rip-off? Well, it would be, except I’m on my way to Content Marketing World—an over-the-top orange fun house for content nerds that I look forward to all year.

In just a few short years, Joe Pulizzi and his team at Content Marketing Institute have built #CMWorld into the content marketing event of the year, combining awesome speakers and content with cool venues and entertainment. Layer on a contagious obsession with the color orange, and you’ve got a devoted tribe that counts down days to #CMWorld like kids count days till Christmas. And it all starts now!

Converting online connections into real-world relationships

I always leave Cleveland with a ton of new knowledge. But, even more important, I leave with a lot of new and renewed friendships. For example, last year I finally met Jason Miller (LinkedIn Sr. Content Marketing Manager) in person after years of online conversations. He called out as I was walking through the hotel bar—and I recognized him immediately, at least partly because of his White Snake t-shirt.


I also met Ian Cleary (Razor Social), Andy Crestodina (Orbit Media), Kyle Akerman and so many more people who are now my friends #IRL. The common denominator (besides a love of content) is that all of these valued relationships began online.

Here are a few of the ways I’ve been staying in touch and getting ready for the biggest and best content marketing event of the year... and you can too!

1. #CMWorld Twitter chat

Almost every Tuesday at 9 am Pacific, I tune into the #CMWorld Twitter chat. Hosted by the crack team at CMI, this chat features a real-time Q&A with experts on a variety of content marketing topics. I not only learn a lot from the guest moderators, but also from all the other participants, who bring their own expertise to the #CMWorld party every week. It's also a hotbed of anticipation and meetup planning for the live event. That's why I’m really looking forward to finally meeting many of the regulars, Brandie McCallum.

2. Little Bird

Our own tools are super useful for identifying and connecting with influencers at events.

  • Top Insiders: I used Little Bird to find and follow influential voices in content marketing—some of whom I already knew, but lots of others who fly a bit below the radar. I also see who I’m already connected to, people I’d love to be connected with who aren’t following me yet (sigh) and people who have followed me but I haven’t followed back yet.
  • Share & Engage: Find, follow and engage with the latest and greatest content that event Insiders are sharing.
  • Daily Mission: I get an email every day on a report of my choice, highlighting hot content I might want to read and share, as well as an Insider who I am not yet following. Today I followed Amy Porterfield, who's #21 on our list of CMWorld Insiders.
  • Lists/Export: Get a complete Insiders list in spreadsheet form or create a Twitter list. Our free CMWorld Influence Report includes a link to our Twitter of top 25o CMWorld influencers. Subscribe to the list (or create one of your own) and then set up a Twitter search stream filled with those people.


In addition to Twitter lists, there's It lets you add yourself or others to the list. Are you on this CMWorld list that Erika Heald created? [listly id="QVV" layout="full" show_header="true" show_author="true" show_sharing="true" show_tools="true" per_page="25”]

4. Human touch

Once you've done a little research, set the stage for your face-to-face meetups. Nothing beats the human touch for influencer outreach. For example, Little Bird CEO Marshall Kirkpatrick and I (@carmenhill) are reaching out in advance to people we’d like to spend time with, so we don’t leave opportunities to chance.  Let us know if you'd like to connect at #CMWorld!

What other ideas do you have for making the most of Influencer Marketing #IRL? Share them with us!

Content Marketing: 3 Ways Companies Use Little Bird to Super-Charge Their Campaigns

  • 09 September 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Here are three key ways that Little Bird customers are using our influencer marketing platform for Content Marketing.

Quick take-aways:
* A $10B multi-national corporation used Little Bird to grow its earned influencer relations online by 30-100% in two target markets in just 3 months prior to a big product launch. Little Bird helps you discover, build and track your influencer relations for promotional purposes.
* A marketing agency promoted its client's content with targeted social ads using Little Bird data and generated nearly 100% quality leads. 20% of Little Bird customers say they use Little Bird data to power social ad buys.
* Curation and engagement with great 3rd party content enables brands to quickly grow their potential visibility by tens of thousands of relevant people online. Little Bird surfaces the 0.05% hottest fresh content from top experts in any field, on demand, in seconds, after the initial creation of a topic report.

I. Curation

Finding and sharing great 3rd party content with your own value-added editorial spin is a great way to build online relationships based on relevance. And in a world where everyone's too busy to listen to you, as leading marketer and Little Bird investor Jay Baer puts it, relevance magically creates time. In other words, if you're relevant enough to them - people will make time to listen to you.

“When I was able to show how Little Bird pointed me to a thread I could comment on and the resulting pass-along put me in front of 80,000 potential readers with just a few minutes of thought required to compose what I wrote—that got people really excited about Little Bird.” - Karen Guglielmo, Content Marketing Manager at enterprise information services company Iron Mountain

Inside of every Little Bird report you'll find a page called Share and Engage. On that page you'll find a stream of the latest content that the most influential people in your target market are sharing - but you've also got the option to limit that view to the hottest content. Little Bird's expert and influencer filtering uses 5 layers of relevant social proof to display just the 0.05% hottest content from leaders in a topic. That analysis is done on demand and takes just seconds once you've generated a big Little Bird report.

mattheinzMatt Heinz, market leading innovator in social selling and marketing automation and Little Bird customer says: "One of the best ways to get an influencer’s attention is to promote their content. For each topic that you run a report on, Little Bird gives you a filtered feed of the content being produced by the Insiders identified from that report.

"This alone might be worth the cost of the product, as the stream of content you see is not only a great way to engage the influencers, but feed your own content channels and curation efforts with regular, amazing content from those who know each topic best." -7 ways Heinz Marketing uses Little Bird every week

II. Inspiration, Co-Creation and Original Content Optimization

When creating original content, it's important to understand your audience as clearly as possible.

jennlankfordJennifer Lankford, Communications Director at developer-focused database-as-a-service company Orchestrate, says her company has leveraged Little Bird's social proof to pinpoint the best places to find inspiration for her own original content.

"Exploring the blogs and conversations on Twitter [that Little Bird discovers] gave us tons of ideas for topics that would be interesting to explore on our blog, for bylines, and for keeping up to date with the latest happenings in our market...Using Little Bird has certainly shown positive ROI. Members of micro-communities have a tendency to trust one another more than those outside of their community. It really works."

Co-creation: Little Bird's people-first technology helps map communities and content all over the world, too. Dubai-based online marketplace Dubizzle loves Little Bird's ability to discover influential people writing in Arabic - because it's about connections, not content, Little Bird is language agnostic and capable of working internationally.

Dubizzle finds influential experts related to the Sharing Economy, a major focus for the company, to reach out to about co-creating original content.

III. Promotion

Creating great content isn't enough. There's far more content being created these days than the market can consume - and yours is not going to promote itself. Content creation is a part of a whole marketing value chain.

Earned and paid promotion can both help seed your content with the most influential people in your market, helping your voice rise above the noise.

Earned promotion comes in the form of building relationships with key influencers in your target market: Little Bird helps you identify and prioritize the ones you've got and build new relationships by engaging with top influencers around content of general interest.

One customer with a big product launch in the works (and a market cap over $10 billion) leveraged the Little Bird solution to grow its inbound influencer relations earned and catalogued in two target markets online by 30% and over 100% in just the first 3 months of using Little Bird.

Those relationships are far more likely to result in effective promotion of the company's forthcoming announcements than cold outreach to unconnected influencers - and the relationship building has just begun.

Paid promotion of content is another option. Twenty percent of Little Bird customers who responded to a recent poll said they use Little Bird data to target social ads. Most, like Orchestrate (above), combine paid and earned promotion together.

One social marketing agency reported that "nearly 100% of leads generated were quality" in a recent Little Bird-powered ad campaign for a mobile software client.

Those are a few of the ways that companies use Little Bird's influencer marketing technology to advance their Content Marketing goals. We learn about new methods all the time, but most fall into the three general categories above.

We hope you'll get in touch to learn about how Little Bird can help super-charge your company's content marketing today.

Useful Data: New Influencer Reports (Free!) on Topics Including Big Data, Content Marketing and the Internet of Things

  • 06 September 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick


What's in a Little Bird influencer report and how can your company use it? We're excited to announce that free previews on three different topics are now available for your download and use.

Some of the biggest companies in the world use Little Bird every day to learn about the new frontiers of their markets but now you can see a snapshot for yourself, for free.

Request a free report here on Big Data, Content Marketing or the Internet of Things.

With this information, you can find out where to focus your social listening and engagement to build relationships with maximum reach and to learn early about new developments in your market.

Do you know which big data people other big data specialists most pay attention to? How about in content marketing? Little Bird harnesses the wisdom of the relevant crowd to help you hyper-focus on the best thought leaders in any industry.

Each 7 page report includes...

  • The top 20 of 1000 peer-validated high-context influencers in each field
  • Data visualization of key segments in each market and their most influential thought leaders
  • 4 steps you can take to capture value for your business from those influencers

We think these reports are immediately useful, look really nice and give you a good idea what kind of power is available with full access to Little Bird. We think you're going to love them.

Imagine being able to run and regularly monitor reports like this on topics related to your business - that's what Little Bird customers do to focus their social networking and capture maximum marketing and market research value from the most trusted people on the social web in your industry.

Request a free report here on Big Data, Content Marketing or the Internet of Things.

3 Places Social Media Intersects with Social Business to Create Value

  • 12 August 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

4 minute read. Summary: Business can capture value from social networks by sourcing external partnerships, by discovering and empowering their most influential employees and by surfacing latent connections to influential people hidden in their existing online communities.

What's the difference between the terms social media and social business?  Do the differences and the overlap present important business opportunity? I believe they do, possibly in many ways. Below are three valuable places the internal and the external social worlds intersect regarding subject matter experts, for example.

A jargon-free way to ask this question might be: where do external social networks and internal business functions intersect in a way that can be valuable, beyond having famous people post about your company's stuff? (That's cool, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.)

Above: Some of the Little Bird team members hard at work, turning social media data into social business value for you. That's Jess in Sales, Darby and Noah in Customer Success.

IBM's Andrew Grill writes in a new blog post titled Why I’m staking my career on the growth of social business the following: "A social business is an organization whose culture and systems encourage networks of people to create business value." Focusing on internal collaboration, he goes on to say "For me, internal collaboration is the new way of working, and in the future your value to an organisation won’t be what you know, it will be what you share."

The two are inter-related, though, as is well articulated by an analogy Grill blogged about a year ago in another post titled Using a broadway show to explain the differences between social media and social business.  There he argues that social media is like the on-stage public-facing part of a Broadway play, and social business is like the behind-the-scenes world of theater techs: lighting rigs and pulleys and curtains and ladders.  Grill writes: "everything that is going on front of house is integrated, processed and shared with the back of house team to ensure the product being delivered on stage is of the highest quality available."

I like that way of thinking.

However, there is one part of Grill's thinking that I want to extend upon.  In his most recent post, he says that among the qualities of a social business "a social business knows instantly how to find subject matter experts – because they make themselves easy to find."  I don't think it's that simple; I think there are some specific ways to tease a lot of value out of the places where social business, social media and subject matter experts all intersect. (Incidentally, these are all things we can leverage automation to help with.)

* There's a ton of valuable knowledge in the network outside your company's walls - no matter how big you are - discovering it and bringing it inside offers a strategic advantage.  Listening to important people talk about the future of your industry and engaging with them offers even greater forms of value than advocacy.  I thought Dion Hinchcliffe explained this really well when he recently said,

"The network-centric organizations of tomorrow will innately understand that the best available resources to accomplish work are largely elsewhere, in other ecosystems, even frequently well outside the traditionally accepted boundaries of the company. An updated, more network-centric view of HR would provide a look at how human resources can be refactored to cultivate — in scale — communities of interest/partnership, more effectively tap into them and elicit their participation (work) using joint goals, all realized in very short time periods.

See also Hinchcliffe's post last week, Let the network do the work.   (Little Bird users, see the Share and Engage page in your reports for the best examples of this.)

See even further Valis Krebs' Social Capital: The Key to Success for the 21st Century Organization (h/t Luis Suarez)

The new advantage is context - how internal and external content is interpreted, combined, made sense of, and converted to new products and services. Creating competitive context requires social capital - the ability to find, utilize and combine the skills, knowledge and experience of others, inside and outside of the organization. Social capital is derived from employees' professional and business networks.

* Some organizations are big enough that discovering Subject Matter Experts is a challenge; in enterprise organizations there's great value in discovering which company insiders have won the respect of external communities of specialists and amplifying their voices.  That's something we learned more about from Susan Emerick (now an independent consultant on employee advocacy) and the incredible IBM Social Computing Guidelines.  It's not just about getting your employees to share your company's news on the social web - it's about finding out which of your employees have earned a lot of social capital in their respective fields, empowering them with resources, and identifying future prospective leaders among your ranks.  In other words: Increasing the impact and quantity of the thought leaders in your company's employ.   That's not about growing Twitter followers and Facebook friends - it's about impacting the market in the way you believe it ought to move and growing your company's reputation for effective thought leadership. (Little Bird users, ask your Customer Success contact for help with this.)

* Finally, there are key intersections between external thought leaders and internal ones.  An enterprise company has so many millions of contacts that even strong connections to trusted experts can get lost like needles in a haystack.  Enabling your company to quickly surface the key external connections today that it's made over the months and years of social interaction in the past is another key opportunity to capture and transmit value from social media to social business. (Little Bird users, put your company and related accounts into the Discover Connections page on any report to surface some of this.)
I imagine there are many more ways that social business and social media overlap, but those are the types of intersections we think about here a lot.

What about you? Are there specific places of intersection between the external world of social media and the internal world of social business that you've found are good sources of value?

Influencer Marketing: Two Steps Beyond Building a List

  • 07 August 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

You've got something exciting to tell the world and you want to know who to talk to about it for maximum impact. If that's part of your job, we can relate: Little Bird was built to help companies save time and discover new people to reach out to on the social web.

You may spend hours, days or even weeks building a list of influential people in your target market—but does that mean the work is done? Nope. There are two steps we recommend taking that will make your influencer outreach efforts far more effective.


Marketing thought leader Mark Fidelman is profiled in a blog post on Convince and Convert today titled Influencing the Influential: How One Infographic Scored 17,000 Views in which he talks about finding the "Oprahs in every industry” and then reaching out to them. Mark says his team took 120 hours to research their list of influential photographers before a campaign. Mark's a smart guy, so some of those hours may have been super-charged by using Little Bird for influencer discovery. (Update: In comments below, Mark said, "We, as always, started with Little Bird." Nice.)

Mark didn't say how he found his list of influencers but he did describe some of his outreach steps in good detail and the post is worth reading. His effort resulted in an infographic about some of the top influencers in his client's target market, ongoing relationships with those influencers for the brand and 17,000 views (and counting).

Above, the front page of a dashboard for Photographers I just created, including using Mark's top influencers as seeds for our crawl.

Two steps we'd recommend adding to Mark's list, though, are these:

1. Assess your current connections

It's one thing to build a list of influential people—but wouldn't it be good to know which of them you've already got connections with? That's what we surface on the Discover Connections tab of every Little Bird report: not just who among your industry's leaders you're connected to, but who's connected to you and you haven't connected back with, who's been connected to you the longest and who's most recently begun paying attention to you. You can run that same analysis for your competitors and consider removing some people who may have had long-running relationships with them—or prioritizing thought leaders who've recently connected to other companies in your space.

Outreach from a known and trusted brand is far more effective than cold calling. That's why we recommend you not only figure out who you're known by among thought leaders in your field but also that you...

2. Build those connections through conversation

Whether you and your brand have just started on social or you've already got connections to hundreds of influential people in your target market, we guarantee there's room to grow those connections.

How do you do that? There's some low-hanging fruit in every community, people you can just reach out to who will follow you on Twitter or accept your LinkedIn invite—but the heavier the hitter, the more you're going to have to earn it.

How do you earn the attention of the most influential people in a field? By engaging with them around content, by adding value, by talking about what they care about—before you ask something of them. Literally, reply to their posts online, reshare them, comment on them, favorite them. Add as much value as you can, and they will turn their gaze to look at you. When they do, this is what they'll ask: Is this a company or a person who looks interesting enough for me to pay attention to them in the future? Hopefully, you are. Finding and engaging with great content, early and often, is one way to be interesting enough for people to pay attention to you.

These tactics can help you build new connections and deepen existing connections. Then, when you reach out and ask for something that benefits you, you're asking as a Giver, not just a Taker.

It takes work to be a Giver. But as social marketing rock star hustler Gary Vaynerchuk said in a recent Q&A video, "Everybody's looking for quick tactics to make it easy, but putting in the work always, always, matters."

The sooner you can get started, the better.

Social Business Can Have Exponential ROI—Don't Just Phone It In!

  • 05 August 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick



Summary: If tasks can be Optimization (spend as little time as possible), Maintenance or Investment level tasks, based on their potential ROI, I'd argue engaging with content is best done as closer to Investment than Optimization level work.

Building relationships and engaging in online conversation is a daunting task when you're just getting started.  Should beginners find ways to spend very little time in order to get started? Maybe, but in the long run I'd argue that content discovery and engagement is better treated as at least a 15 to 30 minute daily exercise rather than a 10 minutes per day exercise.

It's not that you get out of it what you put into it - you can get far more than that - with a minimum viable amount of time invested.

Content engagement can have an exponential Return on Investment:  Especially if you're in a business where the average deal size is substantial, a single piece of content discovered and engaged with well can open up a whole vein of new business with big customers: it can ignite a new advocate or a new champion.

  • It's cumulative.  Businesses are about relationships,  relationships grow over time, and the business value of being a known and trusted entity is exponential compared to cold calling - on or offline.
  • It's about connecting with other smart people. In B2B any one of those people could be a string that leads to a lot of business.
  • You know how they say luck comes to those who are prepared? Social business success also comes to those who show up and don't just phone it in.

What do you think?

I was prompted to argue with this "10 minutes a day" perspective because the very smart Amy Higgins of Concur wrote a blog post on Heinz Marketing's blog today titled Hey Sales! Here’s How To Get Social in 10 Minutes a Day

Sales people have always been social. They are connectors, navigators and above all, social by nature. Then, why is selling on social media so difficult for them?

When I asked our sales teams at Concur this very question, they came back to me with answers like; “I don’t know where to begin”, “I don’t have time to devote to social media”, and my favorite, “I can’t see that it works.” To answer all of them and all of you reading this blog, let’s look into how to do social selling in less than 10 minutes a day and see results.

The rest of Amy's advice in that post I agree with, but where I take issue with it is her suggestion that people spend just 10 minutes a day engaging with content online.  That's not enough time to do justice to the opportunity!

FYI: Here at Little Bird, we've built a system that maps out a whole community of subject matter experts, then figures out which of them are most-trusted among their peers, then monitors those most-trusted to alert you when they find something worth sharing and that their community deems worthy of extensive re-sharing.

Here's what I said in a comment in response to Amy's post:

Amy, this is solid advice, especially for people who are just getting started. I would extend this advice by saying that content discovery, for curation, sales intelligence and more, is something I believe can be an investment level task - meaning a task with a potentially exponential pay-off. ... it quickly becomes challenging to add meaningful value to a conversation if you're only giving 10 minutes to finding, thinking about and responding to other peoples' content.

I like to look at prioritization through a paradigm that says every task is either a. optimization (spend as little time as possible), b. maintenance (linear relationship between time invested and outcome, B+ level work is probably fine) or c. investment level (potentially exponential ROI, the more time you spend on these tasks, the more you'll get out of it) - I would argue that content discovery is most appropriately regarded as a maintenance or investment level task.

What do you think?

Photo: Conversation, from Flickr Creative Commons

How SafeNight Mobile App Used Little Bird to Land $1 Million Grant

  • 30 July 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick
Caravan Studios is a mobile app development organization focused on supporting social change efforts.  One of its recent apps, called SafeNight, allows women's shelters to put out a call to action to their supporters to chip in to pay for emergency hotel rooms: it's on-demand mobile crowd-funding.


The Caravan Studios team used Little Bird to quickly learn who the most influential leaders in relevant fields are, nationally, while deploying a local pilot version of the app.  They used Little Bird's Daily Mission emails and content tracking features to quickly learn about key matters of interest to national leaders, to build an understanding of how those communities engage with the issues they focus on and to discover new opportunities to grow their connections in the field.

With help from Little Bird data, Caravan Studios discovered, applied for and was awarded a $1 million grant to take their local pilot national.  "And when we attended a D.C. gathering of grant finalists," CEO Marnie Webb says, "we were already familiar with many of the issues being discussed by the community because we'd been watching the key developments in their conversations online using Little Bird.  That felt really good."

Congratulations on securing support for this very important application, Marnie!


The Best New Thing in Measurement, According to Katie Paine (Little Bird!)

  • 23 July 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Measuring social media is a complex, contentious and ever-changing field. Bulk metrics like page views and mentions have their place, but as you move upstream into more strategic uses of social - how do you put a number on learning, leadership and high-value intangibles?

Katie_Paine___Flickr_-_Photo_Sharing_That's a question we were looking at when our advisor Joe Chernov introduced us to Katie Paine, a long-admired leader in social media measurement. I remember hearing great things about Katie Paine's work before I'd ever worked a day in social media. Our data shows she's had long-standing online relationships with leading practitioners and thinkers like Jeremiah Owyang, Dan Zarrella, Rohit Bhargava and many others. (Just to give you an idea of her provenance on the social web!)

That's why I'm so excited that our conversation with Katie led to this very generous blog post in which she calls Little Bird, "The best new thing in measurement." And that after a conversation that included some heated debate!

Katie zeroed right in on what makes Little Bird different, too. "The difference between Little Bird and other systems like Traackr," she writes, "is in how they identify influencers. Most systems rely on key words and Boolean searches to identify the people who write frequently and with authority about your market or topic. Little Bird uses network analysis to identify the people with the largest, strongest network ties in your business. Most importantly, it isn’t just looking at Twitter or blog posts. It includes everything from Instagram to LinkedIn.

"The result is a system that is both fast and accurate. I know from experience that this is a great thing, since I’ve spent a goodly amount of time developing key word searches that are both broad enough to find influencers yet accurate enough to be on topic."

Thanks, Katie! We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

What comes next, after discovery and measurement? Learning from the best, engaging with them online, growing your social capital and measuring the results! All using the power of the social graph, the ungameable measure of influence powered by peer validation.

Photo: Katie Paine at SXSWi, by TopRank Marketing Blog. (hint: I saw her that year too, she was in the Blogger Lounge!)

The Future of Enterprise Content Marketing: Cloudy

  • 18 July 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

a 2 minute read

The future of content marketing is cloudy. That's one of the conclusions in a new report published this week by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI): The State of Enterprise Content Marketing: 2014.

Many of us are excited about the awesome publishing power of social media and how it could help make marketing more genuinely useful, interesting and effective. But now there's trouble afoot — institutional, cultural and operational. Hopefully we can get through it, but it isn't going to be easy.

The CMI report is based on conversations among almost 40 leaders in the field from companies like 3M, Autodesk, IBM and more. The group was split evenly between West and East coast of the US. We turned the participants into a Twitter list here if you'd like to see who they are and engage with these leaders in the field over time.

You might think that the future is cloudy because (a) the web is now drowning in low-quality content, and (b) because it's hard to "feed the beast" with content worth the time of consumers (see Forrester's scathing post yesterday) — but the smart people surveyed by CMI offer more detail than that.

The 14-page document is a bullet pointed executive summary of those conversations; it took me about 30 minutes to read. I took notes as I did and thought I'd share some highlights with you. If you read about 400 words per minute, this blog post will take you less than 2 minutes to read. I heard you liked bullet points, so...

Insights discussed in the report include:

* Content marketing (hereafter CM) is often a multi-departmental effort, but generally grows bottom-up and has to prove itself in fits and starts.

* Some participants have seen success by explicitly avoiding an enterprise-wide approach.

* Budgets are now allocated, on average, in a 50/25/25 split among content creation, management and promotion. Promotion is essential to back up the resources invested in creation. "If you are going to invest in creating content, you MUST invest in promoting it as well," the report argues.

* CM typically requires education; corporate cultures that are unfamiliar with CM and are focused on control are a major challenge. It can be difficult to get employee buy-in, as more education is needed in all things related to social media. (It's in the Content Marketing Institute's interests to argue this, but it's also true in our experience.)

* A shortage of familiarity with data and measurement is a challenge faced by people interested in CM.

* The future of CM is cloudy. Consensus is that measurement, while essential for CM to survive as a strategic practice, is fundamentally broken and needs new ideas to measure success. (Does this mean attribution? We've got some ideas here, mostly about metrics around relationship building, but measurement is hard.)

* In the future, the Content Marketing Institute will explore a variety of new topics, including how companies can get better at the creation of content, not just managing it.

"Content will affect business," writes CMI's Robert Rose in his blog post about the report. "It’s just a matter of 'how,' not 'if' — so enterprises must make a choice: Content can be managed as the strategic asset that it has (or can) become, or it can be an expensive by-product that ultimately weighs down a company as it tries to navigate the broader disruptions taking place."

A word about the bird

Here at Little Bird, we believe that one approach to improve your content marketing is to:

* Find something interesting to talk about.

* Find it and talk about it before other people do.

* Find those things to discuss by knowing who to listen to, and listening actively so that you can build meaningful relationships with smart people who will help distribute your content later, when it comes time to talk about yourself.

That's the approach we work with our customers to take and that we support with our software: expert source discovery, early news detection and more. We analyze connections to discover great content! Not just to "feed the beast" - but in support of strategic relationship building and business goals.

Little Bird customers who use our software for content marketing do it like this: find credible sources, read their best content, engage with those sources and their content through either curation or inspiration, and thus grow credibility in their target markets.

We see the organizational challenges enterprise content marketers face as well, and our experience so far validates what CMI found in its excellent survey of leaders in the field.

We're helping the future of content marketing grow less cloudy, or at least your experience in it, by helping companies create and curate great content in a competitive way.

Why Newsle is awesome; no wonder LinkedIn acquired them!

  • 15 July 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

From one social connection data company to another - congratulations, Newsle!

There's nothing as interesting to people as information about ourselves. Most of us aren't in the news every day, but you might be surprised how often someone one degree away from you is!

Today LinkedIn announced that it has acquired Newsle (I pronounce it like News'-el, others say News-lee'), a super-cool technology that tells you when people you know online are in the news. You sync up your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts and it sends you an email with article previews - it's like Google Alerts for your friends and professional contacts. You should go try it.

People LOVE Newsle, I hear people talk about it all the time. That and

Why is Newsle so compelling? I think it's because it's a great combination of technology and humanity - which respects the line between the two. The Newsle team has built a machine learning system that does a really good job telling the difference between people with the same names and spidering across the news really quickly.

All that tech is on the back end and we users just see a stream of big pictures of the faces of our friends and links to things those friends are celebrating. Your friend made a big announcement, maybe they won something, maybe they got a promotion, maybe the media asked for their opinion about something.

No matter what the reason, you probably hadn't been thinking about that person until BAM - they had a life highlight and you got notified. You got to be there for them for their happy time. (Most news about individual people is happy.) That's an emotionally rewarding experience.

Here at Little Bird we talk a lot about "intelligent machines helping humble humans." I bet that resonates with the Newsle team, too.

Newsle told me a few months ago that they have an iPhone app with push notifications coming soon. I hope today's news doesn't derail that. You may have noticed that LinkedIn is already doing "your friend was in the news" notes, too, but they weren't as good as Newsle's. Hopefully the emails will continue to live on, hopefully they'll continue to support Facebook contacts and hopefully they'll sync up with Rapportive for your email sidebar! (?)

Here at Little Bird, we think that the connections between people are really valuable as well. We look at the people you're connected to, but also the people you're not yet connected to, as part of our larger analysis of communities of Subject Matter Experts and the things they're excited about.

I've got to hand it to the Newsle team, though, they really struck a vein where technology and the human experience can come together.

Little Bird offers next generation blog discovery, now that Technorati's classic index is gone

  • 25 June 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

News hit the tech blogs this week that one of the most useful blog discovery tools of the early social media era, Technorati's index, has been shut down. It used to be the place you'd go to find the best blogs on a topic of interest to you. It was probably way too far ahead of its time, though (business interest in blogs was too nascent to drive enough traffic and ad viewership to a free index to justify the expense of maintaining the system, I'd guess). Technorati the business is alive and well as an ad network, but the blog index is gone.

Here at Little Bird, we think there's huge value not just in finding content that contains certain keywords, like traditional social media monitoring products find, but also in finding great sources that are likely to create great content in the future. That's what we do.

Technorati had a global top 100 list (trivia: who were the only authors who wrote professionally on more than 1 of the top 10 blogs in the global Technorati index? Engadget & Gizmodo's Peter Rojas and me at TechCrunch & ReadWriteWeb). You could also search for topics and find a list of blogs ranked that were related to that particular topic. Ranking was based on something like a blog-specific pagerank and it was pretty good. Technorati's business model allowed anyone to see the blog discovery for free, but the ad network that paid the bills ate the whole company in time. Here at Little Bird we sell access to the tools to discover the data and strategic collaboration for making use of that data.

Below: A preview of top 3D Design blogs, one part of a Little Bird report.

Author authority: ticket to the future

Blog discovery and ranking is an important part of what we do here at Little Bird, too. Little Bird customers are able to search on any topic and in addition to finding the most-connected people on Twitter, then LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and elsewhere, we find the top blogs in that community.

Much as Google has expanded beyond PageRank to include AuthorRank, or the influence of the author of a piece of content, Little Bird ranks blogs by the inbound connections from peers of each blog's author.

Little Bird customers do things like look over top blogs in their target markets to discover what topics people are talking about and how they talk about them. Then they create their own content that's responsive and industry-appropriate—one example of how people use Little Bird for what we call Owned Content Optimization.

In a world of tweets and other short-form content, blogs still deliver a ton of important information and audience. We take great pride in offering a new way to discover them. We'd love to show you more.

Enterprise sales leadership arrives at Little Bird with hire of Jessica Rickson

  • 19 June 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Update: See also coverage of this news at the Portland Business Journal and the Oregonian.

Lots of startups look for an experienced, successful player/coach combo to build out their enterprise sales efforts. Good ones are hard to find - big bonus points if they're likable people, too. We're thrilled to announce that Jessica Rickson (right), a local sales leader with a history of success at Jama, Jive, StepChange (acquired by Dachis Group) and elsewhere has joined the team at Little Bird.

JessmarginLeading the new team with savvy new sales rep Nell Loomis (below, formerly at Webtrends), along side marketing leader Carmen Hill (formerly of Babcock & Jenkins), Rickson has made an immediate impact on Little Bird's strategy and execution of sales to enterprise marketing and sales organizations. After selling millions of dollars of software to happy customers of some of Portland's most successful startups, we're honored that Jess has joined our team.

Jama Software's VP of Worldwide Sales Christian Prusia is enthusiastic too. "Little Bird has just secured an incredible sales capability with the hiring of Jessica Rickson. She has an unparalleled mixture of curiosity, persistence and smarts, combined with years of rapid growth experience. There are only a handful of people that can fit this mold, and Jessica is definitely one of them."

J.D. Mooney, Jive's Director of Sales for four years, through the company's A and B rounds of financing, says, "I've worked with Jess twice (at Jive and Unicru), and she's like a great athlete with a broad skill set. Customers love her—she's very smart, a quick study and advocates for them."

Little Bird's CTO Michael Jones, who worked with Jess at StepChange (acquired by Dachis Group), says "Jess's passion for solving real problems coupled with her experience in the social SaaS space made her uniquely qualified for the position. The hustle, enthusiasm and caring she brings makes it an absolute joy to work with her!"

Both Jess and Nell are great additions to our team and are really smart about social strategy. If you'd like to get on the phone with them and talk about how Little Bird can help move your marketing and sales department into a much stronger strategic position on the social web, we hope you'll drop us a line. They'll be happy to talk with you about how some of the biggest companies in the world are already using Little Bird and how you can too.

The Network Effect of Experience

One of the biggest lessons we've learned since raising our most recent financing from the Oregon Angel Fund early this year is that one great hire supports the next.

nellmargin(Left: Enterprise sales pro Nell Loomis)

After building a strong and scrappy team of people doing their jobs for the first time, we got tapped into a great network through Wieden & Kennedy's PIE program. That network included PIE mentor and now Instrument Marketing CFO Marshall King. Marshall connected us to Ben Kaufman, who in January became Little Bird's COO. Ben's super connected and respected around the Portland startup scene and was how we met Jess. She's worked with both Ben and Little Bird's experienced new CTO Michael Jones in other successful Portland startups (StepChange and Monsoon).

Now Jess's network has already led to our next blockbuster hire, which we'll announce in two weeks. These internal referrals are incredibly valuable because they help us connect with a new level of experienced professionals. Big new hires already know our team and our team already knows how effective they can be. That makes both recruiting and execution stronger and faster. It's awesome!

Every day is getting more exciting here at Little Bird and we're thrilled to build the future of the company with our new team members.

Influencer relations platforms: some are transactional, some are strategic

  • 04 June 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

There are a lot of technology options available to power your influencer marketing. Why? Because the power of the individual voice on the social web is growing increasingly well-known. Its power may be widely acknowledged, but that doesn't mean it's widely understood. Most people presume that the goal is to get influential people to talk about you or your brand, but there's so much more that can be done now.

How can we best understand the full range of technology options? We'd like to offer the following articulation of two ends of the spectrum: from transactional to strategic.



  • Generally limited to list-building, initial discovery and lightweight analytics.
  • May be pay-for-play, low-cost or free.
  • One-time advocacy is generally the goal.
  • "Influencers" may have a relationship with the platform.
  • "Influencers" are generally C or D list social media publishers with bulk-bin audiences.


  • Discovery of influencers is just the first step.
  • Influencers are independent of the platform—they generally do important work beyond social media and generally aren't "for sale" as transactional advocates.
  • May take the form of earned, owned or paid media.
  • If it's about earned media, work-flow requires investment of time and resources. May include consulting services or significant Customer Success support.
  • Advocacy is just the tip of the iceberg: The biggest forms of value are early learning about industry trends, co-creation of the future, and the opportunity to build authentic relationships and meaningful thought leadership.

(Little Bird puts itself firmly on the strategic end of this spectrum.)

Taking a more strategic approach to relating to the most influential people in your market can prove helpful in a variety of ways. As Chris Musselwhite and Tammie Plouffe wrote on HBR a few years ago, but from a would-be influencer's perspective, "Influence becomes ineffective when individuals become so focused on the desired outcome that they fail to fully consider the situation. While the influencer may still gain the short-term desired outcome, he or she can do long-term damage to personal effectiveness and the organization, as it creates an atmosphere of distrust where people stop listening, and the potential for innovation or progress is diminished." (When Your Influence is Ineffective, HBR, 2012)

Engaging with influential people in serious topics from a transactional perspective runs the risk of landing both parties in that kind of situation. There's far more to be gained through considered, strategic engagement.

How does this view of transactional to strategic work with your understanding of the space? Are there other qualities you'd use to describe the two ends of this spectrum?

Social Selling: 3 Great Ways to Learn More About It

  • 13 May 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Imagine a world where sales people compete to be the most useful, helpful, genuine and credible people online! That's the world we're moving towards, say advocates of the paradigm referred to as Social Sales. Sounds great to me. This is a big example of one of the ways that the social web is changing how business is done; in this case it's not about pushing out promotional content, or listening to what people are saying about you - it's about listening to learn and contribute meaningfully. Thanks to the structure of social networks, it's now possible to listen and contribute in a variety of strategic ways. You can do it with sheer effort, or you can use power tools, but either way - sales is changing.

The used car salesman is on his way out. The cold call is a thing of the past and Glengarry Glen Ross seems woefully shrill and out of date in an increasingly social world. Instead, always be...connecting, says social sales thought leader Jill Rowley.

Many leading social business thinkers are practicing and sharing what they're learning about social sales.

I've appreciated the following three resources about how to make your sales social, and I thought I'd share them here. I hope you and your organization finds them useful as well.

Little Bird customers use our technology for social sales: to focus their time online on the most high-impact thought leaders, to discover content and conversations to engage with publicly, to add value to the network, and to increase their discoverability and credibility. Then they use our social graph data to better understand the people who come from the web to learn about what they're selling. It's a powerfully different way to do business.

If you're a Little Bird user, you can check out the Share and Engage page on a report about Social Selling to track the hottest conversations around the web about this movement, too.


Above: A Little Bird network visualization for Social Selling. It's a relatively nascent and diverse community of specialists. That means lots of opportunities to get in the game and start connecting!

An introduction to Social Sales

Sales For Life is a 10-year-old organization that does social sales training. The video on their home page is a great introduction to the basic idea, in under 2 minutes! I've watched it several times and shared it with my team.

In-depth with Jill Rowley

Jill Rowley is one of the most influential thought leaders in the world of social selling and gives a great in-depth interview in this 30-minute podcast with MarketingProfs.

favicon Sales_-_Social_Selling_and_the_Modern_Buyer__Jill_Rowley_Talks_to_Marketing_Smarts__Podcast____Marketing_Podcast
I listened to this and immediately changed the way I was relating to the companies I was selling to. I knew it was important to add value but now I go out of my way to send as many valuable resources as possible during the sales cycle - instead of hoarding access to the product, I've been saying "this is the kind of value you can continue to access, indefinitely, if you become a customer. In the mean time, would you like some more?" People have been really responsive.

One for the future

Jim Claussen is a Social Business Strategy Leader and new media producer at IBM. He's been podcasting about using IBM collaboration tools for some time and has recently begun a new show called From Selling to Serving. I enjoyed the first episode, which offered some good tips on using LinkedIn that I was not familiar with. The second episode is about LinkedIn as well and presumably has the same production value, usefulness and succinctness that characterizes the rest of Jim's podcasts. This is a good one to subscribe to; I have it in my SoundCloud iPhone app.

I enjoyed  those three resources and and find them really useful. I hope you do too. May the social selling movement make us all not only more effective - may it also help us become better contributors to the social web.

Boom: Carmen Hill is Little Bird's New Director of Marketing!

  • 24 April 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Carmen Hill is the first of three incredible women who will be building our sales and marketing team starting next month! See also coverage at Venturebeat and the Portland Business Journal.

carmenmarginWhen I wrote up a job posting for Little Bird's new Director of Marketing position, I knew a lot of people were going to be interested. It's a pretty sweet gig, getting to lead the storytelling of a startup that's early enough in its growth to give you loads of creative control - but fortunate enough to have received great branding help from Weiden + Kennedy (thanks PIE!), nationally known investors, has scads of inbound interest every day, a really fun and powerful product, and more.

I did not expect, though, that one of our own customers, and one of the most respected content marketers in the world, would inquire. The internet is a big place but Carmen Hill has worked for the past few years in an office just a block and a half from ours here in downtown Portland.

I am very excited to announce that Little Bird's marketing and sales enablement is about to get a very big boost when Carmen Hill joins our leadership team next month as Director of Marketing!

Carmen has won awards for her content strategy of projects she led for Google, Adobe, Jive and others while at agency Babcock and Jenkins. (She led content strategy on projects that won Content Marketing World Silver awards for Best Content Campaign, Best Landing Page and Highest Response Rate Generated.) Our own data shows (see below) that she's won the respect of many of the most influential people in the B2B marketing world. She's also humble, kind and a great person to be around. We're very honored to have Carmen join our growing team as we challenge early models of social network use for business and herald a new horizon of opportunity!

"Marshall and team have already built a solid foundation for growth, with enviable brand awareness and influential advocates," Carmen says. "Marketing today is about content, connections and conversations. Buyers decide when, where, how and whether to engage with brands. Their perceptions and purchase decisions are influenced more by trusted peers and social networks than on traditional marketing messages.

"That’s why Little Bird is such a valuable part of the modern marketing and sales toolkit. Unlike tools that rank influence based on vanity metrics such as total number of followers or retweets, Little Bird reveals meaningful relationships within specific communities of interest. It provides VIP access to the people and information that matter, and gives sales and marketing intelligence they can actually use. And I can’t imagine a more exciting opportunity than helping grow Little Bird to its next phase of awesome."

Below: Little Bird data shows that the heavy hitters know Carmen. That's an all-star list of earned connections. Hey Jason Falls and Brian Solis, you don't know what you're missing! Continue below for even more great news...

And that's not all!

As good fortune would have it, after our recent financing from the Oregon Angel Fund and subsequent addition of serious startup-power in the form of CTO Michael Jones and COO Ben Kaufman, Little Bird is now in its best position ever in the young life of the company to make big leaps forward with big hires.

Carmen will be joined next month by two other super-smart women who have years of experience in enterprise sales. (Announcements forthcoming.) That's three incredible experienced women joining the team in one month. Carmen in marketing and our new sales organization are going to be a dream-team left-right punch and we are so excited about it!

What's next? We're hiring now for an Interaction Designer who's going to help level up the product and marketing materials, we're always looking for more great developers who want to build amazing systems to analyze social data.

If you haven't checked out Little Bird yet, for yourself or for companies you work with, I would urge you to do so now. Because things are about to start moving real fast.

Little Bird Seeks Interaction Designer for World-Changing Technology Used By Incredible Companies

  • 24 April 2014
  • By Shelby LaCroix

Do you believe that the social web is transforming the world? That the data gathered from our online relationships will inform and impact the way we will relate to one another in the future? Do you love to learn, succeed, and share your knowledge with others?

If so, we’d like to invite you to grow your career by joining Portland’s high-flying data startup, Little Bird. Founded by former leading tech journalist Marshall Kirkpatrick, and backed by world-famous investors like Mark Cuban, we’re a 15-person team of fun-loving, hard-working, fast-learning people aiming to change the social web.  We have some of the most interesting large companies in the world as our customers and our product is awesome.  We'd like your help making it even cooler.

We are looking to add an Interaction / Visual Designer to our  team. You’ll be working with our highly skilled team to imagine and deliver the next generation of social intelligence. One with the graph concept baked into it's core. The right candidate will have a 4-year degree, and/or experience and proven success in these areas:

  • Interaction Design (first & foremost)

  • Visual Design (very strong capabilities)

  • UI Development (+Bonus)


As an Interaction Designer, you:

- have a solid understanding of what a functional relationship between people and product entails, and the psychology behind those relationships (especially in a digital, social space)

- are able to look objectively at the behavior of a product with a critical technical eye, as well as with a non-technical human user perspective

- have a unique propensity for efficient and effective research (internally and externally) to determine what’s working and what isn’t, and maintain the ability to solve for needs that aren’t being met

- are unafraid to present your solutions to a room full of people, and come prepared with analysis and evidence to back them up

- have a strong sense of empathy–you truly seek to understand what the customer feels, and how you can improve the product to improve their experience


As a Visual Designer, you:

- know how to create balance in the look, feel, and functionality both technically, and on a more subtle sensory level

- are acutely aware of how branding and messaging falls into play with the interaction-based design of a product, in order to create a cohesive visual experience for the user

- know how to design a product that engages a user, and creates the desire to return

- have a solid understanding of graphic design (you hold a degree in graphic design, or have equivalent field experience)

- have significant experience using a wide variety of web design and graphic design tools, and understand how to design for cross-platform functionality and responsiveness (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc)


As a User Interface / Front-end Developer, you:

- you have a solid working knowledge of and experience writing HTML, Javascript, & CSS (bonus points if you know Ruby, Sinatra, LESS, and Bootstrap)

- you understand what user-centered design really means, and how to structure a product accordingly

- know how to build a product that’s adaptable to scaling and flexible with evolving needs

- have an efficiency mentality, and have an effective approach for resolving clutter and excess

- are innovative and forward-thinking in your approach to development, optimization, and market demand


Additionally, you must:

- be comfortable working in a team environment and being held accountable for your responsibilities

- communicate clearly and effectively with solid interpersonal skills, cross-departmentally

- be swift and highly organized

- have a self-starter attitude

- truly enjoy the process of building, iterating, and refining (and it shows in your demeanor)

- have an interest in being part of a growing technology startup

- have a real focus on consistently growing and learning, both personally and professionally

The Little Bird headquarters is located in central downtown Portland, and the full-time position includes a great benefits package with comprehensive health insurance, a 401k & flex-spending account, and competitive stock options. If you’ve got what it takes to join an innovative, fast-moving team at Little Bird, please apply by email to with your resume and cover letter. Thank you!

#reachhack: @marshallk on your Personal Brand

  • 15 March 2014
  • By Nate Angell

How can you participate best on social media to support your business goals? In a SXSW 2014 workshop, our CEO and cofounder Marshall Kirkpatrick outlines his own experience that made him a successful data journalist and inspired the technology and practices that Little Bird brings to the world.

Marshall was recently honored to be named one of the top 25 B2B Marketing Influencers in the world by leading CRM company InsideView - so this is the real deal.

Marshall's recipe is straightforward. Raise your own game on social with three simple focuses and generate real benefits for yourself and your business, whether you are a solopreneur or working for one of the world's largest corporations.

  1. Curate effectively
  2. Narrate your work openly
  3. Make social engagement a habit

Diving down on Marshall's first point, effective curation can also be broken down into a simple recipe: don't just parrot the popular stuff that flows by, but instead use the following strategies:

  1. Be first
  2. Say it best
  3. Aggregate viewpoints
  4. Bring a unique perspective
  5. Be funny

Explore Marshall's complete presentation below (slides 78-96) and as a bonus, browse the wisdom from the rest of the 4-hour workshop on digital marketing with Heroku's Margaret Francis and Annalect's Israel Mirsky and Blake Robinson.

Little Bird Update: 14 Mar 2014

  • 15 March 2014
  • By Danish Aziz

See Any User's Standing in a Topical Community

Our customers have been asking for easier ways to quickly see how connected any person or company is within a specific topical community. For example, you could enter the Twitter username of a potential event speaker, sales prospect, hiring candidate, or acquisition target to quickly see their standing in a community central to your business. Today we added an additional feature—Standing—to show you exactly that information, even if that user isn't included in the report.

You'll see this new Standing feature at the top of Little Bird's existing Discover Connections view, which gives you a current, detailed look at any Twitter user's stature, savvy, and connections in the community of topical Insiders delivered by a Little Bird report. This Standing feature adds new, summary information to the existing details already included in Discover Connections, like topic Insiders identified as Missed Opportunities, Not Yet Converted, Most Recent Insiders, First Insiders, and Most Recent Following.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 5.22.49 PM

Additional Updates

  • Our Share & Engage view in every report now updates with new and trending content every thirty minutes.
  • Spreadsheet Exports now contain structured location data for easier sorting by continent, country, region, and sub-region.

The Top 500 People at SXSW 2014

  • 05 March 2014
  • By Nate Angell

Meet Little Bird at SXSW 2014: Three of our team members will be on the ground in Austin, including cofounder and CEO Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk), our new CTO Michael “MJ” Jones (@mjfreshyfresh), and me, Little Bird’s Doorman, Nate Angell (@xolotl). Reach out to us on Twitter if you want to meet at SXSW and talk about Little Bird.

Let’s face it: SXSW is an overwhelming carnival, whether you’re in Austin with 72,000 other attendees or tuning in from afar on the social web. How will you make sense of it all? Where will you focus your attention?

2014 Keynotes

Little Bird is proud to see our own cofounder and CEO Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) in the top 20 SXSW 2014 people, but where do 2014 SXSWi keynoters Austin Kleon (@austinkleon), Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson), Anne Wojcicki (@23andme), Adam Savage (@donttrythis) & Chelsea Clinton (@chelseaclinton) fit in the SXSW community? You can bet after they keynote at SXSWi, they’ll gain stature among other SXSW insiders and move to the center of the SXSW community.
[Tweet "Where do you fit in with 2014’s #SXSWi keynoters @austinkleon @neiltyson @23andme @donttrythis & @chelseaclinton?"]

SXSW 2014 Keynoters

At Little Bird, we believe the best way to make sense out of a complex experience like SXSW is to learn who is at the heart of the community around it—and then explore their connections and conversation. That’s what Little Bird delivers for any topic and so to help you focus your SXSW experience, we proudly present the leading 500 people of SXSW 2014, as measured by the attention they get from their peers.

Tweets from SXSW 2014 Top 500

Last year, there were over 250K people and 750K tweets using the #SXSW hashtag: are you ready to read all that? This year, focus your attention on the center of the SXSW conversation: tweets by leading 500 SXSW people past and future.
[Tweet "Finally! A #SXSW you can manage via @getLittleBird’s top 500 #SXSW people stream"]

Who’s on the SXSW 2014 Top 500 List?

You’ll see everyone from Internet stars like a @scobleizer, @garyvee, @ev, @briansolis, @jowyang and @pistachio, to celebrities from other venues that have intersected with SXSW like @aplusk, @neiltyson, @kanyewest, @pattonoswalt, @shaq and @sethmeyers.  We are proud to see our own cofounder and CEO @marshallk at number 17—he's been a part of SXSW for years and it shows! Dig down a little further in the list and you'll find a lot of well-known and less-famous folks who have done some of the hard thinking and work to build today's digital culture. There are a few music and film folks represented, but we have focused our lens here on SXSW Interactive because music and film are two big, big communities of their own.

Explore the List on Silk

Little Bird is excited to collaborate with a new partner to give you rich ways to explore our list. Silk is a powerful new platform for sharing collections about anything. We used Silk to highlight some interesting ways you can explore our collection of SXSW 2014 People, but you can also create your own views into our collection. Learn more about using Silk.

Top 20 SXSW 2014 People

Click Explore to view our entire list on Silk.

Why So-and-So Is (Not) on the List

Little Bird doesn't decide who is on this list: you do! Or people just like you! Little Bird looks at a variety of social signals made by real humans and puts them together to deliver a dynamic snapshot of the community and conversations that attract the attention of SXSW insiders. There’s undoubtedly some very worthy people that belong on this list and aren’t on it—and maybe even some folks on the list that don’t make sense. Overall though, this list represents the SXSW people that other SXSW community members have raised to our collective attention. Want to be on the list? Engage authentically with SXSW community members to create your own trail of social signals and you will reap the benefits of connecting to this diverse and amazing collection of people, which is way more valuable than just being on a list.

How We Did It

We used Little Bird to find the insiders in the SXSW community and then surfaced just the people (businesses and organizations are another topic). To make sure the list reflected this year's topics, we added in all the keynote and featured speakers from SXSWi 2014. Then we sorted all these people by Little Bird's "Insider Score": a simple but strong signal showing who has earned the attention of their peers—in this case other SXSW insiders. The result: 500 very interesting personalities that have been or will be central to the SXSW conversation.

Little Bird Levels Up With New Funding and Senior Hires

  • 15 February 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

The company announces $1.7m in Series Seed financing to start scaling its network-based influencer engagement technology for sales, marketing and other smart businesses

Coverage of this announcement:

A message from CEO Marshall Kirkpatrick

Two years ago my wife Mikalina Kirkpatrick, our technical collaborator Tyler Gillies and I started the first stage of Little Bird on the couch in our living room. (A coffee shop near Saint Stephen's Green in Dublin, Ireland was an important spot too but that's another story.)

Our goal was to turn our thinking about data-driven discovery of new voices and emerging news on the social web into a product we could scale further than a one-on-one consulting practice - and to have the adventure of building a business while doing it. The social web is a transformative, powerful thing and we want to help more people use it more effectively. Little Bird is a tool for businesses to access the best parts of the social web quickly and efficiently.

From the very beginning, our technology was different from other peoples' - we don't look at keywords people post online. Instead, we look at the connections between people: like Google analyzes the connections between web pages to find the best documents, we analyze the connections between people to find the most trusted and influential people in any field. (Like "9 out of 10 dentists recommend.") Those people are valuable not just because of what they can do today, but because they're a high-probability source of early knowledge about the future of your industry. Just like when I was a journalist, I had an unfair advantage of using systematic approaches to discover niche sources to monitor for breaking news - our users now have an unfair advantage of using our system to jump over the learning curve and engage right at the heart of their markets' best minds.


Above: Mapping the connections inside the social sales community online.
The second stage of Little Bird unfolded at Wieden + Kennedy's startup incubator PIE, with the awesome support of Mark Cuban and a stack of other awesome angel investors. That's where we changed our name to Little Bird and discovered that there really is an incredible demand in the B2B world for the technology we're building. We do almost no marketing at all and continue to get 30 to 50 inbound requests for information almost every day, more than a year after announcing what we're building. It's really exciting and the past year has been a period of big growth (we're now a team of 14) and lots of learning.

Today we announce the next stage of Little Bird. The company has raised $1.7 million in new financing, made two key leadership hires of smart people who've scaled up startups successfully before and is now aimed for major growth in 2014. Michael Jones, formerly of StepChange and Dachis Group, is now Little Bird's CTO. Ben Kaufman, formerly of AuctionPay and Monsoon Commerce, is now Little Bird's COO. Both have grown startups from 5 to 10 people up through 70+. Having them on the team is already making the day to day around the office really different - we're leveling up in a big way. Experience is like a super power. As Ben Horowitz says, he likes to know what a founding team has done before because everything else takes twice as long. Only twice as long is being generous, too, Mr. Horowitz. MJ and Ben have done all of this before and it's super empowering to have them on our team now.


New Little Bird CTO Michael Jones and new COO Ben Kaufman
This new financing comes from new and existing investors, and is led by the Oregon Angel Fund (OAF). Howard Lindzon's Social Leverage fund has also been particularly helpful to us throughout our work. OAF's Drew Bernard has been our champion and with his help we'll take things up to the next level still. OAF has been really enthusiastic and we're proud to work with them.

In 2013 we learned that enterprise scale companies, sales and marketing departments are places where there's great interest in social media influencer discovery and engagement. We still sell to others (SMBs, researchers, investors) but that clarity has been super helpful.

As the new year kicks off, we have three primary goals:

  • Increase regular user engagement with the platform. Little Bird does a lot of things but these three are the most fundamental: 1. we discover who's at the top of the field in your industry, 2. we figure out who you are and aren't already connected to and then 3. we help you get in the game to build new connections with power-tools for engagement with hot conversations online. In 2014 we'll be making dramatic changes to our offering to help expand regular use of the platform beyond the first step of list-building and the early adopter power users so that the rest of the Little Bird value proposition is more easily integrated into the everyday workflow of many more people.
  • Commercialize our API. We've got a lot of companies interested in using our data to enrich their applications and we've got some really good data, both harvested and original, to offer up. We're currently talking to prospective first partners for our API launch.
  • Grow our sales and marketing capacity. You're going to hear a lot more about Little Bird this year and if you're interested in helping run the sales processes we're putting together, being part of the sales team we're building is an incredible opportunity. Get in touch if you're interested.

We've been able to get in front of lots and lots of businesses already in large part thanks to our friends who share their excitement about Little Bird across the social web. People like Matt Heinz, Jill Rowley, power Little Bird user Ian Goldsmid, Mike Maney and many others. Thank you. Our advisors Joe Chernov and Aaron Fulkerson have shared hours of their expert knowledge with us as well. Thank you.

Thanks to the team

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="608"] New office projector? Gotta test it out![/caption]

Little Bird is often associated with my name as CEO, but I'm working with a growing team of people who are bringing incredible energy and intelligence to our shared effort. People love working at Little Bird, I regularly get told this is the best job people have ever had, and it's because of the team that everyone loves working hard together. You can connect with everyone on the team via this Twitter List.

Over the past two years, Mikalina Kirkpatrick, my wife, has been Little Bird's leader in operations and an essential contributor of strategic thinking. She's built the internal culture of the company. Mikalina and I are still married! (I think we're doing better than ever, in fact, if you'd like to know!) With this financing, Mikalina has stepped down as COO of the company and moved into a more strategic role. I want to thank her publicly for the incredible contributions she's made over the years and continues to make now.

Nate Angell, Little Bird's Chief Growth Officer (or Doorman as he calls himself) has brought us to where we are today, having secured deals with and trained some of the biggest, smartest enterprise companies in the world who want to be more effective on social networks. Nate joins Little Bird's Board of Directors with the new financing; we've worked him way too hard over the past year but somehow he's managed to think with great clarity despite an inhuman number of hours.

Lead developer Devin Gaffney has made magic happen at Little Bird and we are super pumped to have him on our team. Look for him to invent some really mind-blowing data science projects this year.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="498"] Little Bird's unofficial logo: the flying robot librarian with laser vision, by Lucy Angell[/caption]

Danish Aziz came to us having built customer support systems at Google and has grown his responsibilities at Little Bird to include support, services, QA and now with increasing focus, product management. Danish and Little Bird are growing really well together. Thank you, Danish.

Darby Burn Strong helps things run really well while we face an overwhelming wave of opportunities and learning - and now she's engaging with customers and helping us tell our story in marketing as well. That's really important work.

Shelby La Croix is a hustler who provides much of customer support that Little Bird is becoming known for and is also starting to help us tell our story with marketing.

On the development team Jeff Goddard brings a wealth of experience to helping us scale, technical co-founder Tyler Gillies continues to blaze new trails and learn about new technologies just like he did when we started the company and new developer Adam Jetmalani is responsible for our awesome new front end. (More on that later.)

Little Bird Team Pictures 2014

The title of "newest member of the team" belongs to Noah Siekmann. Noah's only been with us for a matter of days, but if you use Little Bird, you'll likely be in contact with him sometime so he can help you rock it.

I like to tell my team about research finding that subject matter experts have been found most effective in building influence when they can nail all four of the following practices: tool building, trail blazing new opportunities, translation of concerns across departments and team work. We're all learning how to do those things every day.

Here at Little Bird, we're just getting started. We hope you'll come along for the journey with us.


Klout and Little Bird: The Difference in 3 Sentences

  • 12 February 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Klout, the biggest name in influencer metrics, is reportedly being acquired by corporate social network vendor Lithium Technologies. We're often asked about the difference between Klout and Little Bird, and we expect to be asked even more in the coming weeks. Here it is in three sentences.

Bonus: Coming soon...the Little Bird API. More data, better data and more actionable information, inside your application.

1. Influence in Context
Little Bird's metric of influence isn't about popularity with the public at large like Klout's; we measure influence among people and organizations who are relevant to a particular topic or industry.

2. Actionable Information
Little Bird makes it easy to engage with the people it discovers, by analyzing your existing and potential connections and by delivering the hottest conversations for you to engage with influencers and their knowledge. Klout tells you who is influential and then leaves you to your own devices to take action—at best helping you send them "perks" or free stuff to try to win them over as advocates. We believe meaningful advocacy is one byproduct of effective, authentic engagement—not something you can buy. (Sorry for two extra sentences in this one.)

3. Discovery for Business Utility
Klout's keyword-based discovery of topics and new people returns limited and noisy information; at Little Bird we specialize in analyzing the connections between people in order to discover who influences the influencers, on almost any topic, on demand—delivering information that drives real results for business in marketing and sales.
We've got great data and great tools for leveraging it. We hope you'll sign up to request access and try Little Bird out for yourself.

The Only Thing Faster Than Real-Time: Watching the Right People

  • 30 January 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Twitter announced a new partnership today with CNN and a startup called Dataminr, which will deliver breaking news discovered on Twitter to journalists. It looks incredible.

Perhaps the only thing that could be faster than real-time like this is zeroing in on the key sources of new developments before those developments occur. That's what we help you do here at Little Bird: in minutes, easily and reliably. What could be faster than that? I'm not sure.

In news, you can make a really big impact by being the 2nd, or the 10th, or the 20th person in the world to see something, on Twitter for example, and then taking that story out across other media like TV and the web. An automated system like that is really well suited to journalism. (I used lightweight systems like this myself to break a whole lot of news in my previous career.)

But if you're not a journalist, if you're in other businesses doing marketing, sales or research - then you've got a business interest that goes beyond hearing about what's just happened. The very recent past is cool, but finding the place where the future will be born is an incredible competitive advantage.

Here at Little Bird, we believe that the best way to discover where the future of your industry is most likely to emerge, and to be there to co-create it, is not by looking at hundreds of millions of messages posted on the social web - but by looking at the people who are trusted and watched by other experts in your field.

It's not about what people say, it's about who you know. Little Bird helps you find out who to know and then it helps you develop relationships with them, so you can influence the future - not just react to it quickly.

The Little Bird method: finding the people at the center of the graph.

Below: Dataminr's awesome looking methods of analyzing content. As contrasted with Little Bird's method below that.

img via The Verge

Here at Little Bird we've made it easier than ever to use social network data to discover business opportunities before they emerge. You can request access to a trial account here.

Meet 2014's Top 100 Community Managers on Twitter

  • 24 January 2014
  • By Shelby LaCroix

Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD) 2014 is upon us! This year, in celebration of #CMAD2014 (yes, that’s the official hashtag!) My Community Manager has teamed up with Hootsuite and a handful of other community-oriented companies to celebrate the all-stars who keep our social networks running smoothly. They’ve collectively organized 24 hours of live hangouts, to begin on January 27, 2014 beginning at 00:00 EST (05:00 GMT). They’ll also be announcing 8 unique awards to peer-nominated community managers across several different categories.

Here at Little Bird, we think the inspiration behind CMAD is awesome! It’s all about practitioners celebrating their own—with results much like Little Bird finds by analyzing real human activities in context and the peer-to-peer relationships those activities build. For the second year in a row, we decided to put our Little Bird discovery engine to good use for CMAD, to further uncover and recognize the most connected community managers of today.

We used Little Bird to discover the widest possible online network of community managers, with the intention of sharing another lens through which we all can identify and celebrate this thriving community. We then trimmed our list to remove the companies and organizations, leaving just the humans who represent the top 100 community managers most followed by their peers. The result: 100 awesome people engaging communities on social media from all over the planet! We hope to see some insightful overlap between the community managers in this Little Bird report and CMAD’s nominees and award winners.

Want to create and explore your own Little Bird report on community managers or any other topic?

Little Bird’s influence ratings are based solely on the level of interconnection that topical insiders have with their peers, rather than an abstract measure of intrinsic value. These insiders are those who have built up sufficient peer recognition through their own personal engagement on social media with the other insiders in their community.

[caption id="attachment_1861" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Little Bird Community Managers Visualization Little Bird Community Managers Network Visualization[/caption]

We also recognize that many community managers devote a lot of their online energies to brand accounts, and their personal identities might not always benefit from the same attention. To those who were not represented on our report: We encourage everyone to give some love to your own social presence online. With all that you have to teach us, we’d all love to hear from you personally, too!

There’s much knowledge to be gleaned from these savvy folks on the front lines of social media marketing and relationship management. Want to take in the CMAD community for yourself? Check out the Community Managers Appreciation Day website to learn about events being hosted around the world in celebration of this day.

Congratulations to Community Managers everywhere for your efforts and hard work—We salute you!

Little Bird's Top 100 2014 Community Managers

Visit our Twitter list to browse all 100 top community managers, read the stream of their Tweets below, and download a feed bundle (OPML file) of the 70 blog feeds we found related to these 100 community managers and import it into your favorite feed reader.


New: Little Bird recommends the topics that matter to you

  • 14 January 2014
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick


We're excited to unveil the first iteration of a big new feature here at Little Bird. We've been using the code name "Magic" while building it.

Here's the magic: when you visit the new report creation page on Little Bird, we'll now give you a series of personalized topic selections you can click just once and get a great Little Bird report.

These are topics you know and love, ready for you to turn up your game, find highly-relevant content on subjects that matter to you, and jump efficiently into making connections with the most influential people online. Now Little Bird makes it even quicker and easier to  build expertise and connections to increase your stature and sales or curate and create content to inspire your audiences.

The recommendations are powered by the people you're already following on Twitter. Based on what we can learn about those people, we figure out which topics or industries we can analyze for you to engage with.

Senior developer Devin Gaffney, who built the feature, says "Little Bird is getting to a scale where we can start looking inward at our own data to provide totally new insights, far beyond what we can get from outside sources alone."

General trend: Discovery through analysis of data - not just for advertisers, for users too!

Beyond what we're doing here, we believe that there's a general trend across the internet where people are beginning to discover opportunities for discovery in analyzing peoples' data. In this case, we're analyzing the people you've chosen to follow on Twitter - but there are lots of other people doing discovery based on the trail of data we leave everywhere we go.

It's one thing for that discovery to be done for the benefit of advertisers - but that's not all there is here at all! There are huge opportunities for this discovery to be done for the benefit of end users ourselves. Other cool examples of this kind of work I've seen lately include Intel's analysis of car and phone location data in conjunction with ethnographic research (see researcher Rachel Shadoan's work, for example) and Mind Meld's neat (if beta) iPad app, which recommends links online based on the words you use in a web conference. There's huge opportunity to learn more about the world by illuminating knowledge hidden in our data!

Mind Meld is an interesting example because that app tries to serve up information you might find useful without your even having to ask for it. That's a paradigm people have begun referring to as Anticipatory Computing, and one that Little Bird finds some inspiration from in our Magic feature as well. Look for more of this from us...when you expect it least! ;)

What are some other examples you'd recommend we check out?

About Little Bird again...

Our new "Magic" feature is pretty awesome and it's getting smarter every day. I love seeing people get recommendations like 3D Printing, Inbound Marketing, or this morning I was recommended a report on Postmodernism. Cool!

This is just the first iteration of this feature but we think there's a ton of value for everyone here.

So give your magic recommendations a click and come see what Little Bird can do to help you grow your business every day. Check out the Share and Engage page, sign up for daily mission emails and more.

Together we'll use data to help you learn from and do business with the smartest people in the world, faster and easier than ever before!

How do your recommendations look? Let us know!


Salesforce 1: Salesforce to Commercialize the Internet of Things

  • 18 November 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Salesforce made a huge announcement tonight, just ahead of Dreamforce. Its new Salesforce 1 platform will support Internet of Things connected device apps. That's really big. Most coverage of the news so far isn't focused on the IoT part of the announcement, probably because the idea of a web-connected consumer package good or piece of heavy machinery is hard to imagine in reality, but based on my previous reporting on IoT and using data from Little Bird to catch up quickly on the state of the art, I'll put what I think is going to be the biggest news of Dreamforce in context below.

Conclusion: If Salesforce can move the needle towards popularizing connected devices and integrating them into the larger sales and marketing suite, would it be too bold to say that such a move could change the world even more than the move to cloud computing has?  The potential impact here certainly seems comparable.  Moving computing into the cloud vs the instrumentation of the physical world? Once you can connect your connected devices to your CRM, you're going to connect a lot more devices to the web.

Below: The Internet of Things is already flourishing, imagine it getting turbo-charged by Salesforce as a commercialization platform. (Little Bird screenshot)

Salesforce lifted the press embargo tonight on a major announcement it will make at the massive Dreamforce conference this week: the new Salesforce 1 platform will combine all the CRM giant's existing offerings with technology that can tie into what's called The Internet of Things.  Connected devices and sensors that send data about what an object is doing in the real world back to a server in the cloud - like a Salesforce server.    Or a device tracking company's servers that sync that data with sales tracking technology on Salesforce.  This could be really, really big. Marc Benioff will say a lot more on stage, I'm sure.

Al Falcione, head of corporate messaging at Salesforce was quoted by Larry Dignan saying, "Salesforce 1 is the way of connecting things in a flexible way to transform sales, service and marketing." Don't let the sometimes underwhelming word things in that sentence underwhelm you. Falcione doesn't mean "some stuff" he means, a huge amount of real-world, previously off-line physical objects! Like heavy machinery from Caterpillar and MRI machines from medical tech companies.

I’m not a journalist anymore so I didn’t get briefed on this, but I used to write about the Internet of Things a lot.  I’m going to Dreamforce and I find all of this absolutely fascinating.  I've spent my career thinking about how data can yield insight and this sure smells like an incredibly powerful move by Salesforce.

Here's how I understand it could work.

Right now Salesforce tracks relationships one-to-one with individuals and with companies made up of individuals.  Imagine the company creating a platform for 3rd party app providers to build plug-ins where instead of a phone call or email exchange you had with a sales prospect being tracked, you were able to record (automatically) things all the way down to how much cereal was left in a consumer's cereal box.


As I posted on Alex Williams' coverage on TechCrunch:

Mobile analyst Chetan Sharma and I talked about connected cereal boxes a couple of years ago and that vision seems perfect for what Salesforce is doing as a platform. "P&G ships 40 trillion some objects per year, imagine them all connected," he said in an interview we did at CTIA.

What do you do with a connected cereal box?

"With a cereal box? You'll communicate about health related issues, add social elements, easy ordering. A brand can build a direct relationship with the consumer without relying on retail stores. Look at the aftermarket, 30% of the diapers ordered are now ordered online. There's no reason why that can't happen on other objects. I think the chance for the brand to interact with consumers directly is huge."

The granularity may be a mismatch there, but it may not be.  In Salesforce's own slides the company shows a backhoe as an example of a connected product that could tie into Salesforce1.  Also in 2011, I wrote about a company called Axeda that powers M2M (machine) connectivity like this:

Axeda works primarily with B2B companies, traditionally in the form of asset management. One company that provides high-end industrial equipment for cutting fabric, outside the price range of many small firms in the clothing and apparel industry, has begun using Axeda's technology to embed a "pay as you go" model. A sensor takes data off the equipment, sends it to the equipment provider via cellular connection and then sends a monthly bill charging for the amount of use the machine saw.

Likewise, there are places around the world, Zujewski says, where fabric cutting machines get used in excessively high heat and humidity. The machines keep breaking and it's expensive to repair them under warranty - so machine manufacturers find it quite valuable to be able to monitor that the conditions their equipment is being used in are compliant with the terms of those warranties. All it takes is a USB port. It's too bad they can't monitor the working conditions of the factory wetware the same way. There may be eternal judgement for that, though.

Where Does Little Bird Come Into Play?

Our influencer and expert discovery and engagement technology here at Little Bird isn't directly related to Salesforce, the Internet of Things, or cereal boxes that spy on you.  What we do is map out communities of influence and expertise for our customers (like Matt Heinz did with Little Bird for Dreamforce) and we do make a very nice report and set of engagement tools on the IoT, for one thing.

Someday, we might just tell our customers where interest and influence and expertise intersect with the tidal waves of customer and device data they are tracking in their CRM.  Someday, maybe.

IoT specialists know that the debate over privacy and connected devices is likely to be big (they're talking about this article tonight, for example) and I expect that Salesforce making a big entry into the space will be a key milestone in the growth of that debate.

I'll be watching my Little Bird report on IoT's Share and Engage hot content page tomorrow (screenshot) to see what the Internet of Things influencers are saying about Salesforce - if you're a Little Bird customer you can run a report on IoT and do the same.  I'll probably spin up reports on M2M, sales tech and privacy as well. If you're at Dreamforce, we'll be happy to show you any of those.

This is Going to Be Big

As Alex Williams said tonight, "It’s a big promise, especially considering that most companies are still finding their way with how to use mobile apps and services for marketing and sales."  (See also Larry Dignan's post for more details.) I agree with Alex and think that exploration for finding out how to integrate all of this together is going to be incredibly exciting.

If Salesforce can move the needle towards popularizing connected devices and integrating them into the larger sales and marketing suite, would it be too bold to say that could change the world even more than the move to cloud computing has?  At some point there's no sense comparing, but the potential impact here certainly seems comparable.  Moving computing into the cloud vs the instrumentation of the physical world?  What have you got to match that, Google Self-Driving Cars?





7 Ways Heinz Marketing Uses Little Bird Every Week!

  • 13 November 2013
  • By Darby Burn Strong

The following is a guest post crafted by Matt Heinz, Founder and President of Heinz Marketing (in the great state of Washington). Matt is a Little Bird customer and continues to be one of our biggest advocates. His insights help us learn things about our product and social media marketing every day. Find him on Twitter at: @HeinzMarketing

How Matt Heinz Uses Little Bird

Months after I first started using Little Bird, my man-crush continues. Little Bird is still one of the top three social marketing tools I use on a regular basis, and I'm surprised when I occasionally hear people question the value of this tool, especially after reviewing an initial set of reports. I use Little Bird on a weekly basis. Here's how I use it, and why.

New Reports

I create new reports on a weekly basis. Yes, there are the fundamental reports I built in the first couple days, but there are new topics I regularly explore to discover additional influencers. I choose these report topics based on a number of inputs; campaigns other marketing vendors are running, new buzzwords that are emerging or becoming prominent, real-time events and hot topics in the news, etc. Reviewing various reports around similar topics will provide plenty of overlap between lists, but it's really valuable to know which influencers are higher ranked for particular topics. It's a great way to engage them and get their response on a topic they are particularly passionate about.

Update Reports

Say you ran a report on Social Selling six months ago, for example. It's highly likely that the list of influencers from that report has changed significantly since creating that report. People move up, people move down, new influencers join the list. For the topics you care about most, especially those topics that are really relevant in the social sphere now, the lists of influencers can change often. The more you're up to speed on those changes, the more likely you're reaching and influencing the influencers themselves. (Note that there ARE dynamic parts of a report on Little Bird, like the Share & Engage feature, which updates the Hot News of a given report in real time, highlighted below!)

Social Selling screen shot Matt Heinz

Events & Conferences

I can't tell you how often I've run a report for a specific conference (for ourselves or one of our clients) a few weeks in advance, and then used that list to generate significant pre-show buzz, news coverage, at-show meetings, etc. Then, after the show, I run the report again to see how the list has changed based on who was particularly active and/or influential at the show itself.  This is a great way to surround and build value with the event's related influencers, and significantly increase your event ROI with little added cost (in the form of human capital).

Using Hashtags on Twitter to Inform Your Reports

Paying attention to trending hashtags makes for a good source to leverage on a regular basis. Some hashtags are tied to events, but others emerge as themes or memes in a particular industry. For example, Lattice Engines recently launched a highly-effective campaign focused on celebrating "Marketing Nerds," those who thrive on analytics and data to increase marketing performance. As part of the campaign, they launched and saw a ton of activity using the #mktgnerd hashtag. You can use tools such as Tweepi to get a roster of those participating in the hashtag, but if you want a (socially) ranked list of the most important and influential people using #mktgnerd, use Little Bird.

Engage with Influencers NOT Following You

One of my favorite features in Little Bird (and there are many) is the ability to view the list of Insiders through different lenses. One lens in particular shows you who among that report is following you, and another lens that easily shows you who is NOT following you. This insight is easily gained by using the Discover Connections tool within every report. You can not only discover who is and who is NOT following you, but you can use any Twitter handle to see how your various brands and others are connected to a particular online community. As a brand, you'll likely want to engage all of the top Insiders on a report, but you'll want to apply extra attention to those not yet following you (in which case you might not even be on their radar).  Also, if someone at your company is themselves an influencer for a particular category, engaging more of the Insiders not following you will increase your own "insider score" and rankings on the list.

Aggregated Content Feeds

One of the best ways to get an influencer's attention is to promote their content. For each topic that you run a report on, Little Bird gives you a filtered feed of the content being produced by the Insiders identified from that report.  This alone might be worth the cost of the product, as the stream of content you see is not only a great way to engage the influencers, but feed your own content channels and curation efforts with regular, amazing content from those who know each topic best.

What Are Experts Saying About a Topic (or, Little Bird as a search engine)

I also use Little Bird as a search engine specifically filtered for the most important influencers on a topic.  Within a particular subject area, you can enter a keyword or phrase and get results specifically based on what that subject's influencers have said or published previously.  This is hugely valuable for accelerating your own "competitive intelligence," finding new content for curation, being a source of valuable information by answering questions for your own customers, and more.

Heinz Logo

Thanks to Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing for this post. Matt is not paid to say these things. Rather, he pays us as a customer and for that, we are grateful!
— The Little Birds

How to add value in your online influencer engagement

  • 23 September 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Early information, summarized well, unique perspectives, distribution.

I was fortunate this week to be a guest on CXO Talk, a video podcast hosted by analyst Michael Krigsman and marketing executive Vala Afshar.  It's a great show with really good guests.  I highly recommend it.  I was part of a round table about online influence, along with the CEOs of related companies Kred and Onalytica.   The full video is embedded below.

At the 21 minute mark, co-host Vala Afshar asks "how do I create influence online?  What do you have to be good at doing?"

I love answering that question in conversation and Little Bird helps answer the question through automation.

The following are five ways you can add value in influencer engagement online.  You'll notice that these are not ways to get influential people to talk about you or your company.  Nor are they tips like "give them free gifts."

These are tips on how to give influential people something truly important - valuable information, perspective and distribution.  Those are the kinds of things that ambitious people appreciate, they're the things that got them to the top of their field so far and they know that these are the kinds of value that will help them stay at the top.

Give people these things and you'll be welcomed into valuable relationships.  This is how I see it - if you disagree, please let me know so I can learn from your perspective.

Here are five ways you can add value to someone's life when you engage with them online:

Be the first place people learn about something important. They'll pay attention next time they see you, in case you can do it again. Little Bird helps you watch trusted experts in a field and pass their discoveries along to your own community online. (See the Share & Engage page in any report.) You'll be the first place that your community discovered the information from and you'll help that expert influencer gain access and social capital inside your community.  In other words, if you can be early to pass value along, then you'll be adding value in both directions.  People will appreciate it and your social capital will grow.

Explain something really well.  We're all super busy and anyone who can explain the most important part of something succinctly wins big points with everyone.  You can find good things to explain to your audience via Little Bird's content discovery and you can put them in context by searching for past research and perspective in each report's Search page. (That's where we help you search inside the archival content of subject matter experts and influencers.)  If you're sharing news about an influential person's work with your community online, they'll see that - so say it really well!

Bring together multiple perspectives.  Aggregation is an art.  Tell me what different credible people think about something important and you've added value to my day.  This can be really hard work, but it can be really valuable, too.

Offer unique insight.  Respond to what people are talking about with something unique - maybe something based on your own experience, something you read, or just a few minutes of thinking about it.  They say on the Internet no one knows you're a dog, but that's only relevant if you write like a dog.  Post something smart and uniquely interesting and ambitious people in your field will want to know who you are.

Be funny.  This one's easier said than done, but if you can be funny, that's a form of added value on the Internet.   You can push the "make me funny" button on any Little Bird report...just kidding, there is no magic button that will make you funnier than you already are.  There is, however, technology that can help you be more interesting. You're looking at it, and some of the ways that works are detailed above.

Thanks to Andrew Grill for the embed.

Enter New Markets Fast: How Startup Uses Little Bird

  • 04 September 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Small business customer on how they use Little Bird and what they wish it did better.

Tony Falco is an experienced entrepreneur and a very smart man. After graduating from the US Naval Academy, he became a VP at Akamai, then raised more than $20m at NoSQL company Basho and most recently founded, a startup that offers developers "all of the best databases orchestrated by a single, intuitive REST API."

That's a big shift for Falco and his team.

"We know all the leaders in the database community," he says, "but now we're building something that makes databases easier for people in the API community, the Javascript community, and other communities like that.”

"We need to learn who more of the leaders in those communities are, start building relationships with them and start creating high-quality content."

Here are some of the ways this little startup is using its Small Business subscription to Little Bird to jump start the building of its connections and knowledge of new markets.

  • They run Little Bird reports on various target markets, then go connect on Twitter, LinkedIn and elsewhere with the leaders in those markets. They click on the links in their Daily Mission emails from Little Bird and quickly make new connections.
  • They've bookmarked the Share and Engage pages for those reports and watch for interesting new developments in their new target markets. When opportunities arise, they talk about those news stories on their Twitter account and blog.
  • They look at the list of top blogs that comes with every Little Bird report, they visit those blogs and see what kinds of topics leaders in their field are talking about. They take note how those topics are discussed too, so they can talk about them in a way that's consistent with how others do. That's a pretty awesome use case, we haven't heard about anyone else doing this yet.
  • When they're looking at attending or sponsoring a conference, they run a Little Bird report on that conference to see what the community around it looks like. They use the Discover Connections tool to see who they are already connected to around the event. That information helps them make decisions with their precious conference budget.

You don't have to be as smart as Tony and the team to jump over the learning curve like this, anyone with a Little Bird subscription can grow their company's social capital using these easy, but effective practices, without investing lots of time.

What Tony Wishes Was Different

It's hard to believe that any customer doesn't have some issues with anything they pay for, and sure enough there are a few things Orchestrate wishes was different about Little Bird. I asked.

Tony says he wishes that the Top Blogs section was a little more closely curated, too often he finds off-topic blogs there. To be frank, that's not something we're likely to prioritize in the short term.

He also says he wishes the data came with more instructions about how to use it. That is something we hear loud and clear and will be offering more of ASAP. We hope that Tony's story about how his company uses Little Bird will be helpful to some of our other customers, and other customers' stories will be helpful to Tony. Watch this space for what we've been calling "recipes" - quick and easy ways to make use of the information that Little Bird discovers for you.

Thanks Tony and team, and good luck! We're thrilled that we can help your company expand its market of customers!

Want to rock new markets like this with your company? Sign up at to request access.

No, you should not pay online influencers for their advocacy

  • 22 August 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

The hottest link of the day today among experts in Social Business is a Harvard Business Review blog post titled Yes, Marketers, You Should Pay Your Influencers. I thought it warranted a quick response. Here at Little Bird we provide technology for ethical, and thus effective, influencer marketing and social business.


Oh, beloved HBR, how sad I was to read this!
Don't lower yourself to pay-for-play and miss the point. This is something we went right after in the very first post on this blog: The true value of online influencers: It’s not about parroting your messages.

As we wrote there:

The self-publishing revolution of social media has enabled any of us to pull up a seat directly in front of some of the world’s leading thinkers and stars—and what do we do with that opportunity? All too often, we tug at their shirtsleeves and plead with them to tell their audiences about us. That can certainly happen, it’s great when these people do talk about us, but there’s so much more value to be captured by the radical new access we have today thanks to social media.

Businesses that look at social media as a source of free or cheap promotion are really missing out.

What are they missing out on most? High-leverage learning and early access to future business opportunities. More detail in the blog post above.

Analogy: pay-for-play endorsement is to social media like D-list celebrity infomercials are to the Guttenberg printing press. Sure, when there's a new media that emerges, there's going to be a long fall to the bottom of the opportunities it offers, but why on earth would we start there?

Perhaps because we don't know any other options. Here's one option, based on science, with the benefit of getting some promotion for you - but most importantly in discovering new opportunities for you and your company: How to Influence the Influencers: Ask for Their Advice.

From Wharton School Professor Adam Grant's book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

“New research shows that advice seeking is a surprisingly effective strategy for exercising influence when we lack authority.

"Asking for advice encouraged greater cooperation and information sharing, turning a potentially contentious negotiation into a win-win deal. Studies demonstrate that across the manufacturing, financial services, insurance, and pharmaceuticals industries, seeking advice is among the most effective ways to influence peers, superiors, and subordinates. Advice seeking tends to be significantly more persuasive than the taker’s preferred tactics of pressuring subordinates and ingratiating superiors. Advice seeking is also consistently more influential than the matcher’s default approach of trading favors.”

And why stop there? I Found the Leaders in My Field, Now What? You want raw monetization? Our team member Nate Angel wrote How I Use Little Bird to be Smarter, Richer & More Famous.

The point is, the opportunities are many and very exciting. Don't lower yourself to pay-for-play and miss the point. Come on in, the water's fine! It's better than fine, it's fantastic!

How the Inbound Conference Landed Arianna Huffington as Keynote Speaker

  • 20 August 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

When you've already got Seth Godin and Nate Silver keynoting your company's marketing conference, how can you make things even bigger? That was the question organizers of the HubSpot conference Inbound, this week in Boston, asked themselves this Summer.

To explore their options, the company turned to Little Bird. In addition to helping you discover and engage with the world's leading experts and influencers in any market, Little Bird can also help discover which of them are already in your existing online community.

Little Bird is a happy HubSpot customer and HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah is an investor in Little Bird, but this research was carried out independently by Laura Fitton (@pistachio), who's responsible for HubSpot's Influencer Relations. Knowing the best tools to use in social business is something Laura's world-famous for.

"I've been very impressed with what Little Bird can do," Fitton says. "It's an awesome way to develop and keep track of key relationships online. It's such a challenge to avoid being overwhelmed on the social web, businesses need tools like this to really focus their energy."

See who you're already connected to, or ought to connect with, in the world of Inbound Marketing with a free Little Bird data preview.

Here's how HubSpot did it. First, Fitton ran a number of Little Bird reports on different topics relevant to the conference. Then, she plugged in several of their key executives on the Compare page, which compares the social connections of any individual to the leaders in the topic of the report. One of those analyses surfaced an incredible connection: Arianna Huffington!

Little Bird told the organizers that Huffington had accepted a connection on Twitter to a member of their team, so they reached out and made contact with their now-keynote speaker. Of course they had to make all the arrangements with the very busy media innovator, but it was by using Little Bird's automated analysis of hundreds of thousands of connections online that the option of contacting Huffington even came to mind. "We believe that having DMed Arianna directly contributed to convincing her to participate," Fitton says.

Your company may have valuable strong connections otherwise lost in the history of your social network engagement as well. Little Bird can help you find them and make use of them with a snap of your fingers. Even better, Little BIrd can help you form those connections with brand new influencers and experts, with more effective and efficient use of social media.

If you'd like to see how Little Bird works, I'll be in Boston at Inbound and would be happy to show you! I'm really excited about attending the event and meeting thousands of other people working to unlock the opportunities created by social media and social networks.

Inbound marketing: We'll email your big opportunities to connect

  • 20 August 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

How would you like to discover some great new people to know, some of which may already know about you? I'd like to email you, personally, some names of people you haven't connected with yet but who you should.

Those kinds of opportunities are one of the things that Little Bird helps you discover about any industry - but I want to surface them for you about one topic: inbound marketing.

If you visit this form, enter your Twitter handle and email (Update: Ok, that was great but we gotta cut folks off! Really glad people were excited about this, we (and I mean the awesome Darby Burn Strong and I - and mostly Darby) sent a lot of emails out, but if you'd like this kind of information - you should sign up for Little Bird!) I'll plug you into our Little Bird report on inbound marketing and I'll personally email you a list of your top opportunities to connect with leaders in the field. I'll also make sure you're in line to get a trial account with Little Bird, which will let you run reports and get access to tools to connect with the leaders in whatever industry you work in.

Maybe you work in CPG, or health care or you sell boating supplies. Whatever the topic, Little Bird is all about discovering new opportunities to connect and do business on the social web. The lens we use to discover those opportunities is trust, expertise and influence.

Below: @marshallk's biggest Missed Opportunities, top peer-validated inbound marketing experts following me on Twitter whom I'm not yet following back. Tell me your twitter handle and email and I'll send you this list for yourself or your company.

I'm attending the big Inbound marketing conference in Boston today and Seth Godin's keynote about helping people connect brought this idea to mind. We help people and companies discover each other and connect as part of our core functionality, but since marketers are a key constituency of ours and thousands of you are watching the Inbound conference, this makes sense. I hope you find this useful and inspiring!

Below: Here's the very very top of our report on Inbound Marketing. How do we do it? By analyzing the connections between specialists, we find out who's the most connected node in the network! That's a great place to start.

Announcing the Giant Summer Feature Release at Little Bird!

  • 31 July 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick
Check out our weekly webinars and register now for an Intro to Little Bird!

Hot opportunities in influencer engagement delivered to you fresh every day.

If you've seen Little Bird's influencer discovery and engagement technology before today, we're excited to announce that there's a whole lot of awesome new things that just got pushed live this morning that we hope you'll find super valuable for your work every day. Little Bird is Contextual, Educational and Actionable.

If you're a Little Bird customer already, you can start using all these features starting now. If you're still waiting for access to Little Bird, fresh batches of invites are going out this week!

We've built a lot of new tech under the hood, but here's the new stuff most likely to impact your work day:


Above: Team Little Bird hard at work in our new office in downtown Portland, Oregon.
Image edited by David Burn

Daily mission emails

dailyemailpicWe're all busy and it's easy to forget to make the time to capture even the lowest hanging fruit in social media engagement each day - so now we're going to send you an email every morning with quick wins you can make in engaging with the leaders in your field. 2 minutes to more social capital, each and every day.

The first version of these emails contain two things: a link to the most influential person in your field that you're not yet following and the hottest news of the day for you to reply to, reshare or at least know about. We've got a whole lot more coming soon but we wanted to start sending these now and test them early.

You'll automatically receive an email from the first report you ran on Little Bird but you can select a different one on your account dashboard. Right now you can only get emails from one report (I know I want more than one, that's coming soon!). Enterprise customers will soon be able to have their admins set a daily email to go out to all members of the company.

We think this is a super exciting way to make it easy to build your social capital online every day.

New Share & Engage Feature

There's a lot happening in your field every day. Here at Little Bird, we believe the most scalable way to stay on top of it is by using trusted experts as your filter for the news.

Formerly our Hot News page (click the orange drop down menu in the top right of any page), our newly named Share & Engage page helps you do just that!  You'll find two columns: the hottest links recently shared on Twitter by top influencers in your field and the most recent hot links they've shared. Check the right column for the freshest news and keep an eye on the left column for anything important you've missed and to see what's really on fire among leaders in your field.

New links below each item make it easy to share these links out onto LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. This is your one-stop source for great content to inspire and inform your work and for you to share out across the web. When you share great stuff online, it builds your network of connections and leads directly to more business for you. How do you find such great content to share all the time, your new friends will ask? You can just tell them "a Little Bird told me."

Missed opportunities

On Little Bird's Discover Connections page, you can see just how connected and savvy anyone online is - and you can discover people inside and outside of your online community to connect with.

Now we've got an additional field of data displayed: missed opportunities. This is a ranked list of the most influential people in your field who are already following you on Twitter but whom you're not following back. Follow them - they love you!

Below: Compare results from a report on Startups.


Coming soon: Location targeting

We're very close to releasing a new location feature that will let you discover the most influential experts on a particular topic in a particular place. Let's say you're traveling to Toronto and you want to who the leading people in Cloud Computing are who live there - and perhaps if you're already connected with any of them. That's going to be awesome. Watch this space!

Additionally we've got more data being captured, a brand-new report creation UI and more.

As you take a look at what's new - let us know if anything's unclear, if there's more you'd like, etc.

We're aiming to take Little Bird beyond the initial discovery of influencers and into a place where we can help our users engage with those influencers and their work every single day.

If you're still waiting in line to get access to Little Bird - your invite should arrive soon! We hope you'll love what we're building.

Recipe: Fill Your Social Streams with Quality Posts Using Little Bird

  • 26 June 2013
  • By Nate Angell
Check out our weekly webinars and register now for an Intro to Little Bird!

The secret to raising your stature, making valuable connections, and building business on Twitter (or any social network) is to consistently share ideas, news, connections and conversation that other people like and find valuable. If the people that like and value your posts have stature and credibility, then the attention they pay you will raise your own stature and credibility.

So how can you be interesting to people that matter in your field? It sounds like a lot of work, but you can use Little Bird to quickly and easily make better posts that will get attention from the right people by following simple daily practices.

Your Experts

Think of the insiders in a Little Bird report as your special team of experts who explore the world to bring you the most important and interesting news and connections they can find. Reshare and interact with the gold they bring you and engage them to build relationships with people that matter.

Read & Share the Latest Hot News Every Day

Once you have a good Little Bird report, filled with people and organizations that have stature and expertise in your topic, bookmark the report’s Hot News page and visit it at least once a day. Browse Hot News to see what’s trending and what’s interesting and then do one or more of the following:

  1. Favorite a post that you find worthy. This sends a signal to the author that you are paying attention and giving them favor.
  2. Retweet a post that you think your audiences will enjoy. Just RT, or RT and Edit if you can add your own short comment that makes the conversation more interesting.
  3. Reply to the author of an interesting post with your appreciation or insight. The author will likely be pleased and your audience will see your engagement.
  4. Follow the author and/or retweeters of an interesting post to add their voices to your Twitter stream AND let them know that you are paying ongoing attention to them.

Hot News from a Little Bird report on CSR


Find Golden Needles in the Internet Haystack

Ready to talk about something more specific? Find out what the world’s leading experts have been writing about that subject and share and comment on their work. When you’re dealing with a specific issue that comes from breaking news or your client’s current business focus, where can you quickly find something worth reading—and sharing with your audiences? Use Little Bird’s Search to find relevant information, news, and posts about that more narrow issue from the websites and blogs of leading insiders in more general topic areas.

For example: Let’s say you are working on behalf of a nanotech company looking to increase its connection with consumer industries. Run a Little Bird report on “nanotech” and search the blogs and websites of leading nanotech insiders for a consumer industry keyword like “fashion”. In minutes you’ll find articles posted by leading nanotech insiders on subjects like:

  • a Google patent filing on fashion
  • self-cleaning clothes
  • designer nanocrystals
  • a nanotech scientist whose fashion inspiration is The Professor from Gilligan’s Island
  • 3D holographic fashion shows
  • wearable electronics
  • Facebook “likes” appearing on in-store hangers to help crowdsource purchase recommendations

In short order, you are a well-versed insider ready to share fascinating and timely posts on the intersection of fashion and nanotechnology. Or vice-versa: search for “nanotech” in a Little Bird report on fashion.

Search Nanotech blogs for posts on Fashion

The pattern is simple:

  1. When you’re focused on specifics, think of what more general topics might be an interesting intersection with your specific interest. Then run Little Bird reports on those more general topics.
  2. Use Little Bird’s Search capability to search the blogs and websites of experts in those general topics for mentions of your more specific interest.
  3. Share links to interesting content you find via search with your audiences on Twitter (or other social networks). If you can, include a mention of the content author’s Twitter username to also gain their attention and amplification of your post.
  4. Bloggers love relevant comments. Get extra credit for adding your comment to an insider’s blog post so they can see, respond to, and reward your engagement.

Share Articles from the Best Magazine on Earth

Lounge on your couch in the evening and flip through your own personal magazine of the best, latest news about whatever topic you care about most. When you find a great article, hit a button and instantly share it with your audiences with your witty and insightful commentary. Then sit back and watch your followers engage and your audience grow. Learn how from our post on Today I read the best magazine on Earth.

WordPress at 10: Investing in a Successful Global Community

  • 28 May 2013
  • By Nate Angell

On this noteworthy day when we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of WordPress, Little Bird is of course pleased to be using WordPress to power our blog and website, as well as giving thanks to the broader Portland, OR WordPress community that fuels so many worthy local and global endeavors. We also bow to our fellow denizens at the Portland Incubator Experiment from the WordPress commercial star, Automattic, which just saw $50M of their stock purchased by Tiger Global investment managers.

Why would a leading investment manager take such a sizable stake in a company tied to an open-source platform like WordPress? Reports made in just minutes with Little Bird discover the shape and size of the WordPress community and its vibrant ecosystem of WordCamp events, now energized by another Portland luminary, Cami Kaos, who just started as "Dotorg Admin" for Automattic, supporting WordCamps globally.

At Little Bird, we think prudent investors should include this kind of research to understand what kind of community and social connections exist around any planned investment: in a platform like Wordpress, in a specific market segment, in a company or brand, or in the founders or team of any business. From what Little Bird shows us about WordPress, clearly Tiger Global put money into something very real, with a global community, proven leaders, and a ten-year track record.


The Wordpress community discovered by Little Bird

On our first two runs, Little Bird identified 704 leading people and organizations in the WordPress community, interrelated by 26.3K social connections and led of course by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, but also including people like Andrew NacinMark JaquithJoost de ValkBrian GardnerLorelle VanFossen and 698 (and counting) other leading WordPress (and Automattic) insiders.

Hot News that Little Bird is tracking on WordPress is naturally full of 10th Anniversary posts, but leading all other news is a link from WordPress insider Chris Coyier to GIF Brewery, a handy utility that Chris tells us "lets you convert brief clips from your video files into GIFs." We can't wait to see the stream of animated GIFs celebrating WordPress's 10th anniversary and Automattic's continuing success!


Wordcamp Community discovered by Little Bird

Also after two Little Bird discovery runs, we found 482 WordCamp insiders, interrelated by 13.5K social connections. Our WordCamp report includes some of the same global experts and influencers in our WordPress report, but also other leaders like Jen Mylo/WellsBrad Williams, John James Jacoby, Lisa Sabin-Wilson, Ryan Imel, as well as all the leading WordCamps worldwide. When people are spontaneously organizing events for something around the globe, you know you're on to something with some success.

Little Bird Hot News tells us WordCampers are celebrating the last 10 years of WordPress also, but they are already starting on the next 10 years: tomorrow, tickets go on sale for WordCamp San Francisco to be held 26-27 July, 2013.

Make Investments with Your Eyes Open

Whether you're ready to take a $50M stake in a company like Tiger Global did in Automattic, making smaller investments in any field, or just investing in yourself and your business, don't invest blindly! Discover and understand the communities of people and organizations already engaged in your targeted sectors. Who has influence and stature? What are leaders thinking and talking about? Make informed investments using Little Bird and in 10 years, we'll be celebrating your anniversary!

Today I read the best magazine on Earth

  • 22 May 2013
  • By Nate Angell

And so can you, on any topic

A great magazine is a fantastic pleasure and wonderful resource. A really great magazine that delivers a consistent intellectual and sensory experience over time is usually a phenomenal collaboration, requiring the coordinated efforts of a large team of people, working together to bring you their shared vision.

While I honor flagship magazines that have delivered unique experiences: National Geographic, Vogue, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Wired, Interview, Low Rider, Highlights, etc—with Little Bird, I can now create—in minutes—an experience that rivals, and in some ways, far surpasses, these greats.


First, I use Little Bird to identify the leading conversants worldwide in any topic: opera, health technologies, street art, open data, social CRM, cheese, globalization—or whatever. These insiders become my stable of authors, publishing high-quality, relevant and smart works on any topic of my choice, and so often that I have a fresh, unread issue of a topical magazine at my side every day, ready for my attention. Little Bird is my editor—my Helen Gurley Brown—making sure I read only the very best.

Then, I bring all the expert content Little Bird discovers into Feedly, which magically transforms the raw content streams of these global experts into a sensual reading experience on my computer—or even better on my phone or tablet—that rivals a fine magazine, automatically and daily. It's like a new world-class magazine hits my porch every morning, filled with fresh ideas, images, sounds, and insights from my own personal correspondents spread around the world, selected to make sure I only see the best.


For business and for pleasure, I now know I have material worth my attention that can challenge—or change—my thinking, waiting for any free moment I might have. When I'm ready, the casual flip of my wrist brings me early signals and deeper insights that expand my thoughts, clue me in to what I might've missed, and keep my own expertise informed.

You may think it sounds like too much, while I wonder why you'd want to bother with anything less. Meanwhile, there's a new open data stream on cheese opera I need to visit...

I Found the Leaders in My Field, Now What?

  • 01 May 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

5 Fast Wins from Influencer Engagement

Here at Little Bird, we sometimes take for granted that everyone understands the value of finding and engaging with the most influential experts in the world. But there's magic in making things explicit: so here's a few great reasons to find the leaders in your field and start your engagement with them right away.

Once you've identified the world's most influential experts in your field of interest—what can you get out of that knowledge?

1. Develop relationships so they'll spread the word about you

This is the one most people come to Little Bird for first, but it's only the beginning.

You know that some people have built big audiences online and they could really move the needle for you by spreading the word about you, your business or your project.  In order to get them to do so, you're going to have to win their respect by being interesting.  (Being generous, helpful and filled with integrity makes a big difference too.  Then hustle, nobody said this was easy, we just said we could make it a lot easier.)

The sooner you find out who those people are with all that influence and the more often you can make interesting on-topic conversation among them (check out the Hot News page on your Little Bird report to find things to talk about with experts that will make you smarter too), the more credibly you'll be able to build relationships and later ask them to talk about you.

Imagine going up to the most popular person at a party and saying "Hi, I'd like to introduce myself and ask you to please tell everyone else at the party about me."  You'll be far more likely to get help spreading the word if you've invested time into building relationships with influential people and demonstrating that you're interesting enough to spread the word about.

2. Learn from the best

Why is it important to spend time learning from the most influential experts in your field?  It might be easiest understood in the negative.  Think about those people who have gone before you, climbed to the top of your field, who continue to perform in ways that win ongoing accolades from other leaders—do you really want to be ignorant of the things they are doing? That doesn't sound like a very good idea.

3. Find out what people at the top of your field are excited about

People at the top of their field get brought all kinds of interesting, valuable opportunities and information more often and more quickly than the rest of us.  They see it first, they do it first.  You can get in on that same action by hanging out with top influencers and seeing what they get excited about.  Most of them are very generous, you just have to know where to look.

Little Bird tip: Check out the Share & Engage "Hot News" tab on any report and bookmark that page to learn from the leaders in your field every day.

4. Know what top experts have said in the past about important subjects

Many top people online have been producing thoughtful writing and content for years, about all kinds of things.  Some of those things are going to come up again later, in your life and work.  If you ignore all the things top people in your field have written about those things in the past, you're leaving a lot of knowledge and value on the table, un-utilized.

Little Bird tip: Check out the Search tab on any report to search inside the blog posts and web pages from the leaders in your field for any keyword or phrase.

5. Know who knows whom and who doesn't

It's good to know who top people know and who they don't know.  That's valuable information if you end up interacting with those people.

For example, if I'm going to have a conversation about Music Tech with Andrew Mager, Hacker Advocate at Spotify (above, photo Creative Commons by Tyler Howarth), it might come in handy to know the following things:

  • He's known Schlomo Rabinowitz for a long time, probably longer than anyone else in the industry.  Schlomo Rabinowitz is a pretty cool cat.
  • He probably doesn't know the very influential Glenn Peoples of Billboard Magazine, but maybe he ought to.  They're not connected online at least.
  • He's recently connected with Wesley Verhoeve of Family Records, who sometimes contributes to Billboard; in fact the two had a very interesting conversation about helping musicians get started with social media and what kinds of help are appropriate.

Imagine having that level of visibility into the connections of someone influential in your industry.  What could you do with that?  You can have a much more effective, meaningful conversation with that person.

Little Bird tip: Check out the Discover Connections page on any report to compare who knows who else and who doesn't.

See?  Identifying the top leaders in your field is just the first step.  Once you know some influential people, you can start being interesting and helpful with people that can really return the favor, tenfold.

How to Influence the Influencers: Ask for Their Advice

  • 20 April 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Here at Little Bird, we help you discover the most respected and influential people and organizations online in any field, but what do you do once you've found them? We've talked about how our advanced tools like Hot News, Compare and Search are powerful ways to leverage great content and connections—but one of my favorite bloggers wrote this morning about something even simpler:

"The best way to build a strategic relationship with someone far more powerful than you," self-optimization writer Eric Barker says, "[is] merely to ask their advice."

Eric summarizes academic research each day on his blog and email newsletter Barking Up the Wrong Tree. According to Little Bird's data, he's won the attention of leading experts in Neuroscience like Scientific American's Bora Zivkovic and microexpression analysis trainer Dr. David Matsumoto, leading experts in Learning like George Lucas's Edutopia and science writer Annie Murphy Paul and even venture capital leaders like Angellist's Naval Ravikant and Valley startup expert Chris Yeh. Barker's editorial powers are widely respected.

His email today was super relevant to Little Bird users.

Here's what he highlights from a recent book by Wharton School Professor Adam Grant called Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

"New research shows that advice seeking is a surprisingly effective strategy for exercising influence when we lack authority. In one experiment, researcher Katie Liljenquist had people negotiate the possible sale of commercial property. When the sellers focused on their goal of getting the highest possible price, only 8 percent reached a successful agreement. When the sellers asked the buyers for advice on how to meet their goals, 42 percent reached a successful agreement.

Asking for advice encouraged greater cooperation and information sharing, turning a potentially contentious negotiation into a win-win deal. Studies demonstrate that across the manufacturing, financial services, insurance, and pharmaceuticals industries, seeking advice is among the most effective ways to influence peers, superiors, and subordinates. Advice seeking tends to be significantly more persuasive than the taker’s preferred tactics of pressuring subordinates and ingratiating superiors. Advice seeking is also consistently more influential than the matcher’s default approach of trading favors."

Sounds like a great way to build your relationships with the world's leading experts and influencers you discover using Little Bird. Reach out and ask them for advice!

The best part of all this? You're going to get some great advice, too.

If you like Grant's take on things, he's interviewed in Scientific American too. Investor Brad Feld shared that interview early this morning and it was the hottest link of the day among leaders in Venture Capital. Notably, Grant isn't followed much on Twitter by VCs—Feld doesn't follow him yet. Of the top 500 VCs we mapped using Little Bird, only the philosopher investor Eghosa Omoigui and James Cham of Trinity Ventures follow the super-smart Adam Grant so far. I guess that means if you're a VC, you could be one of the first to develop a relationship with him online. Perhaps you could begin by asking for his advice.

Recipe: Create a targeted Twitter advertising campaign using Little Bird

  • 09 April 2013
  • By Danish Aziz

While Little Bird provides a number of tools that allow you to learn from and authentically engage with influencers, sometimes getting your message in front of a relevant audience is paramount. In that case, being as targeted as possible with your paid media will help you get the most bang for your buck.

Little Bird relies in no small part on data gleaned from Twitter. It's no surprise then that some of our users are taking that data back into Twitter as part of their targeted advertising campaigns. As impact studies on both business-to-business and consumer examples have shown, audiences who are exposed to brand tweets are more likely to visit brand sites, more likely to consider these brands/products, and overall more likely to purchase or convert. But don't waste your money haphazardly sending ads to Twitter users at random. Use Little Bird to shape your Twitter ad campaigns to reach the right people.

You know you want your messages to reach specific audiences that will also become your followers on Twitter. Use Little Bird to quickly identify the most relevant influencers in topics related to your market, and then earmark those influencers in your Twitter ad campaigns to put your ads directly in front of people like their followers—the people most likely to engage with you, your products, and your brand.

Need more info?

Just like we do when we want to learn more about any topic, we turn to Little Bird to learn more about the debate on the future of digital advertising. Now we're following online ad leaders that Little Bird tells us command the attention of their peers like Interactive Ad Bureau CEO @r2rothenberg, Rubicon Project CEO @FrankAddante, CMO @karaweber, AppNexus CEO @bokelley, and Bazaarvoice SVP @aripap.

Diving deeper, we use our own custom search engine of leading digital advertising influencer blogs to uncover articles like @ajcohn's provocative post where he claims: "Twitter will steal Facebook’s bacon and become the most powerful brand advertising platform on the planet."

Ready to get started?

Below is our step-by-step guide on how you can use Little Bird to target contextually relevant Twitter users around any given topic, as some of our customers—like performance storage startup Whiptail—have done, to help deliver your ads to the most relevant people.

Step 1

Determine the topical community you'd like to advertise to and build a Little Bird report on that topic (e.g. "data storage").

Step 2

Go to Twitter Advertising, if you've never advertised with Twitter before you may have to request access.

Step 3

If you have a geographic focus, start off by setting the area you'd like to target with your ads.

Twitter Targeted Advertising Screenshot

Step 4

Using key influencers identified from your Little Bird report, enter their Twitter handles into the text field next to the "Browse Categories" button. By identifying people with contextual influence around a given topic, you can reach people with the same interests as the followers of that influencer (like the similar audiences feature from AdWords). Note that users like your own followers are also targeted by default.

Step 5: Optional

Limit targeting by gender or to specific devices and platforms. Choose whether you want to target women, men, or both. For those of you hooked on the "mommy blogger" demographic, don't skip this step! You can also target desktops and laptops, phones and tablets, or even specific operating systems.

Step 6

Decide whether you want to promote a specific tweet, or just want to publicize your Twitter account to gain more followers to fuel your engagement. Then set your daily budget, as well as a bid "per engagement" or "per follow" depending on whether you choose to promote a specific tweet or a specific account. If you choose to promote a tweet, an "engagement" occurs when a user clicks on, retweets, @replies to, or favorites your Promoted Tweet.

Step 7

Last but not least, pay Twitter for your ad campaign by entering your credit card info and hitting continue. You're now on your way to a highly targeted social media advertising campaign. Be sure to check your advertiser analytics to measure your performance and adjust as necessary!

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 1.19.51 PM

How I Use Little Bird to be Smarter, Richer & More Famous

  • 27 March 2013
  • By Nate Angell

Check out the Little Bird webinar today, 3/27 at 11AM PST!

I joined Little Bird after working diligently for a long time to build my social capital the old-fashioned way: making connections in my chosen field organically over years. It's the same process people have been using to raise their stature forever: around the campfire, on the village green, at cocktail parties, or in social media. Now I'm starting a new chapter in life and career with new focuses: will I start all over again?

Thanks to the science of Little Bird (that feels a lot like magic), I'm starting my new journey waaay farther down the path.

For starters, the first Little Bird report I created put all my prior work and my new, looming need to broaden my horizons in dramatic perspective. In one fell swoop, Little Bird demonstrated its accuracy, encapsulated my history, underscored that authentic engagement pays off, and gave me a dramatic head start in building my new career.


It was simple: I created a Little Bird report on the topic of my previous focus, the Sakai open source learning and collaboration project. In mere minutes, right before my eyes, Little Bird showed me Sakai's social network: no one missing, everyone ordered aright based on the effort they had put into building social capital in the Sakai community online. And lo and behold, who did Little Bird identify as the most interconnected person online? Me.

Nate Angell in Little Bird visualization of Sakai community

I'm not highlighting my place as giant blue dot in Little Bird's report on Sakai to toot my own horn. Many in Sakai have contributed far more valuable efforts to that community than I. What's important is that without ever knowing about me, or Sakai, or any other person or organization in the Sakai community, Little Bird was able to produce an entirely reliable portrait of a community, based on the effort each member had made to engage authentically in social media.

With one look at that report I was convinced that:

  1. The effort I had put into connecting to and engaging with the broadest possible range of Sakai community members built my knowledge, influence, and career in that community dramatically.
  2. Little Bird's science (or magic) was flawless.
  3. I could use Little Bird to engage in new communities—using exactly the same authentic practices I developed in Sakai—but with the dramatic head start of knowing in advance how a new community was shaped and who I should engage with first to learn and connect.

Doing New Business

When we printed our first business cards at Little Bird, we established the practice that each of us would pick three communities that we belonged to or aspired to join and put them alongside our contact information. I picked education (a community I already belong to and a topic which I care deeply about), critical theory (a discipline that has organized my thinking life), and growth hacking (a practice that I must master in my new position).

Nate Angell Little Bird business card

Our cards are not just a gimmick: I now use Little Bird reports on each of these topics to learn more, engage directly with leading insiders, and thereby raise my own stature and further my knowledge, interests, and career—just like I did with Sakai, but thanks to Little Bird, starting at the top rather than from scratch.

Just today, my Little Bird reports on these three topics led me to Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells talking about how urban space and cyberspace combine in modern political movements, @FailedArch's compelling post on the poetry of architectural decay,  @monk51295's multimedia tour of thinking on how learning has evolved over the ages, and @andrewchen's post on why startups should focus on the quickest path to product-market fit. And that was just today.

I'm just a small dot in these communities right now. But with Little Bird's guidance, every day, with a single click, I'm able to sit at the feet of the big blue dots in each of these communities: learning, establishing new relationships, and growing my own experience and social stature.

Since when do dots have feet, you ask? When they help you climb mountains.

Recipe: Research a person using Little Bird "Discover Connections"

  • 20 March 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Little Bird offers lots of different features in the orange Actions menu on each report. One of the most interesting is called Compare. On that page, you can enter anyone's Twitter username and we'll tell you just how connected, and to whom, that person is among leaders on the topic of the report.

Find out who anyone has impacted online - and who they're smart enough to be reading. Little Bird "Discover Connections" is like X-Ray vision into anyone's social capital online.

Here are 3 situations where this can prove useful, perhaps they'll inspire even more in your work.

      • Prep for a sales call can include a quick snapshot of not just how influential the person you're going to talk to is among leaders in their field, but also how savvy they are in knowing about market leaders to follow on Twitter. You can learn about where the people you're going to talk to came from by seeing who the first leaders in their field were to follow them - and you can learn about what kinds of connections they are making most recently, too.

Below: Paul Greenberg's most recent and oldest connections among leaders in the field of CRM.

      • Vetting someone to hire, invest in or do business with can benefit greatly by comparing that person's online presence with a list of leaders in their field. The fastest sale Little Bird ever made was to a startup that had spent weeks vetting a hire that we were able to demonstrate in five minutes was in fact super-connected in her field. Likewise, investors considering engagement with startups may appreciate seeing just how closely the people they're looking at are paying attention to the state of the art leaders in their fields.
      • Considering attending an industry conference? Check out just how influential the speakers really are among leaders in their field.

Below: Paul Greenberg knows and is known in CRM.

5 Important Technologies Jeremiah Owyang & Altimeter Saw at SXSW

  • 14 March 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

What was the hot tech at SXSW this year? (Beyond the first implementation of the Little Bird API in partnership with Waggener Edstrom, that is!) Was it Space or 3D printing? Those were high profile, but they weren't the most actionable of hot trends there, according to Jeremiah Owyang and Chris Silva, leading tech and marketing industry analysts at Altimeter. They wrote a blog post today titled Altimeter’s Take: The Technologies That Matter from SXSW 2013. (For context, Owyang is watched by leading analysts like Gartner, Forrester, Mike Gualtieri and James Governor; Silva is watched by top analysts like Jonathan L. Yarmis, Michael Fauscette and Barbara French.)

I liked their thoughtful take on things in their post, but thought that anyone interested in the top trends they identified could use some help figuring out where to start learning more about these technologies. So I ran a Little Bird report on each trend and shared 1 of the top 500 most peer-connected experts in each topic and 1 of the 500 most emergent, in a comment on Jeremiah's blog.

That's the kind of information that Little Bird surfaces, if you're learning about something new - we'll help you cut right to the heart of the conversations and engage with the most influential experts in that field.

So here are the 5 technologies that Altimeter said they saw get traction and that they advised their readers in corporate marketing to consider watching or investing in, followed by one leading and one emerging influencer in that field that you can check out if you want to learn more about these topics.

Gesture Based Interfaces

Altimeter: "They key to this disruption taking hold is developer support."

Check out Evoluce and (GestureDB is emerging now and looks awesome!).

Near Field Communications (NFC)

Altimeter: "Companies with NFC-enabled products hawked them hard – see Samsung entry below – but users’ have yet to process the idea that, beyond payments, using NFC as an event control point or trigger can usher in instrumented environments. This is a key Android differentiator that we’d like to see more manufacturers support."

Top sources in NFC include the publications NFC World, Practical NFC and Pierre Metivier.


Altimeter: "Not investing in Android as an app player or a hardware concern is no longer an option."

I wasn't familiar with the forum or the media watchers at @evleaks, but the world of Android experts are.

Collaborative Economy

Altimeter: "We’ll see many, many more of these services before the market shakes out."

This is a big research area for Owyang and it's something we're really intrigued about here at Little Bird, too. The top person in that field, according to our social graph research so far, is Rachel Botsman and an important organization emerging is the lobbyist group Collaborative Economy Coalition.

Augmented Reality

Altimeter: "We’re bullish on Google Glass and, while we’ve not yet received our Explorer units to demo, we think the market will be very receptive to technology that augments daily tasks and does it in a lightweight way. We see a market emerging for AR-centric content and interactions and brands should be ready to play."

Finally, in Augmented Reality, the person to watch has for years been Raouli at @Augmented but the newest up and comer is Nicoleta Notova.

I hope that's a valuable addition to Altimeter's great round-up of technology emerging at SXSW. Make sure to read their whole post.

Announcing Big Fish by Waggener Edstrom and the brand new Little Bird API

  • 07 March 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

This morning Little Bird, along with communications giant Waggener Edstrom and Portland's Tater Tot Designs, are unveiling the first app built on top of the new Little Bird influencer discovery API! We think it turned out great. We hope it's a great showcase for what can be done with Little Bird - get in touch with us if you'd like to talk about using our API for your business (you can email Or do you want to help us sell our API? We've already got overwhelming interest and need to hire sales people now. Email us at the same address. Here's TechCrunch coverage, which is awesome.

With Big Fish, we're going to use our community mapping data and Waggener's huge and savvy promotional muscle to slice the best on-topic people and content out of the overwhelming deluge of information overload at SXSW.

It's called Hey Big Fish, it's live at and what it does is two things:

* Big Fish tells you how you rank among now more than 70K people talking about SXSW on Twitter. We rank people by how much interaction they are receiving from other people participating in conversation about SXSW and especially by the world's leading experts in 30 topics of interest at the event. We recalculate your score every 6 hours. Right now I'm ranked #2403, for example. That might not sound so high, but I've had 58 people in the SXSW community interacting with me in the past few days and it's in the top 3% of 70K. I hope to grow that much higher, but I'm going to have to add a lot of value to community discussion to do it!

* Second, Big Fish shows you a leader board not just of all the participants in the set of 70K (IFC, BuzzFeed, Pure Volume and Taco Bell are leading brands right now - top individuals are people like Dave McClure, Hugh McCleod, designer Kevin Mullet (@kmullett) and entrepreneur Lena West (@lenawest) --- but we also break out the top influencers participating in SXSW around 30 different topics - from space to web design to content strategy to community management.

You might only be interested in Health Tech, for example, and so if you visit our Health Tech page you'll see which experts in that field are getting the most traction at SXSW and see what that community is most excited about (like a "Techmeme for Health Tech or Topic X at SXSW" type thing.)

Incidentally, people say that Space is going to be a hot topic this year because of Elon Musk's keynoting - the space geeks making the biggest waves leading up to SXSW are: NASA's Peter Edmonds (@peterdedmonds), Raytheon's Stephanie L. Schierholz @schierholz and astronomer Nicole Gugliucci. (@NoisyAstronomer)

Community managers are super-represented at the event, we can see that from the data already. The Community Management specialist getting the most traction in the past few days among SXSW community members is Jillian Jackson (@oneJillian) followed by HuffPo's Tim McDonald (@tamcdonald) then the fabulous Jeremiah Owyang rounds out the top 3.

The app looks great on any mobile device, so we hope you'll check it out throughout the week in Austin.

Why Tim O'Reilly is optimistic about the future of media and books

  • 14 February 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

TOC"There are big opportunities for those of us who are unafraid of the future but who are trying to figure it out," said Tim O'Reilly today, kicking off Tools of Change (live stream), O'Reilly's conference for book and content publishers, held this week in New York City. Beginning with a chart showing an industry disrupted but stabilizing after a period of financial decline, O'Reilly's opening talk was titled "Some Reasons for Optimism."

The primary things O'Reilly's optimistic about are the social web and the distribution capabilities it's making available to content producers. That's something I think people in any industry could benefit from finding inspiration in.

O'Reilly's primary example was Vidcon, an online video industry event that he said saw thousands of young people screaming for their favorite YouTube stars like teenagers at a Beatles concert in the '60s.

Started by video blogging brothers Hank and John Green, the conference is just one of many different media outlets the brothers work in. John is a best-selling young adult fiction author, riding a wave of popularity on YouTube and GoodReads to sell huge numbers of books to thousands of loyal fans.

The brothers sold out Carnegie Hall last month, ("one hell of an author's tour," O'Reilly said) and John Green shared the following thoughts with the New York Times, which O'Reilly then quoted in his opening address to Tools of Change:  “For me there is no bright line between publishing and making stuff on the Internet. They are both about collaborating with others to make something new.”

That sentiment and the Green brothers' whole experience resonated with O'Reilly. "If you're a publisher and you're only thinking about books and ebooks, you may be missing out," he said. "You need a bigger footprint online." The whole conference is shaping up to be an optimistic look at a future of knowledge sharing that's multi-media and multi-platform.

"Readers and authors are doing fine," O'Reilly concluded his talk to his fellow publishers. "And when platforms are vibrant, it's because ideas matter. If you make that the heart of your practice, you will succeed. Work on stuff that matters."

Other fun from Tools of Change:

Cory Doctorow: "The 21st century novel presumes easy access to a search engine; you can drop concepts and trust readers to look them up for themselves."

Who do members of the ePublishing community pay the most attention to? According to Little Bird's community analysis: publications like Digital Book World and The Future Book, and individuals like Idealog's Mike Shatzkin and VP of Engineering at Safari Books Online Liza Daly.

See you in the future, fellow readers and learners!

Expert Realizes Her Influence, Decides to Go Indie

  • 07 February 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Susan ScrupskiThe expert other experts trust the most takes a look in the mirror of her social graph and changes course.

Austin-based social business thought leader Susan Scrupski announced today that she has left her position with agency 7Summits and is going independent. Scrupski's job change is particularly notable because she is the world's leading expert in the exploding field of Social Business, according to the automated analysis of the social business community on Twitter performed by the community-mapping technology of Little Bird. Little Bird maps existing community connections around any topic and helps businesses discover and engage with key topic influencers and experts.

Whenever a key thought leader in a red-hot industry sector makes a job change, it's newsworthy. When it's the #1 person in what's arguably the hottest field in business right now, that's big news.

Scrupski cited Little Bird's analysis in her announcement of the move, writing that "the good news is I can rest on a big data set of evidence that supports my ability to influence the conversation on what is happening in Social Business."

"According to [Little Bird's analysis], I occupy the #1 position among the top 500 insiders on Social Business. Now, before everyone unfollows me on Twitter, I’ll qualify that by saying, what Little Bird does is something analogous to Google page rank. It’s not that I’m the brainiest or most knowledgeable person in Social Business, it means that the most knowledgeable and brainy experts in Social Business are connected to me. And there are a lot of them! I celebrate every expert in this category and wish only for continued success of everyone in the space. That actually includes the vendors. Hence, you can see why I feel the need to maintain an independent voice in the market."

Scrupski says her aim is to do something next that truly changes the world. She knows that the relationships she's built online are a key enabler in making those dreams a reality. Susan already has those connections; other participants online use Little Bird to identify targets for relationship building, for scaling their social efforts and for assessing the connections they already have.

We would like to encourage (perhaps only a little tongue-in-cheek) the world's leading experts in other fields to consider their options as well. Merv Adrian in Big Data? Chris Paton in Health Informatics. Linda Bustos in eCommerce. These people have options, of course, but day in and day out they're working with the networks they've built to do their work with power. Finding, building and leveraging professional connections is an incredible source of power that can be amassed in new ways thanks to social media, networks and business. Susan Scrupski is a very high-profile, leading example of a growing trend that will touch almost every business in the world.

We wish you the greatest success leveraging that incredible social network you've built to change the world, Susan!  The social business web is cheering for you.

Meet the Top 1000 Community Managers on Twitter, Globally

  • 29 January 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Little Bird found the Community Managers that are most-watched by their peers, other Community Managers.

Today is the 4th annual observance of a fun event called Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD). Those hard working, public-facing, anger-catching, remedial-question answering, opportunity illuminating angels from heaven deserve their own day!

As we transition from a cold, impersonal, mass-production, one-way-broadcast industrial economy into a world where sales people give you more information not less, where everyone has an important public voice and where empathy is increasingly understood as a social and business imperative, not a form of insanity - the world needs more great Community Managers!

Here at Little Bird, our technology maps out any online community (today on Twitter and blogs, tomorrow - the world!), figures out who the members of those communities are most paying attention to, then provides tools for engaging with those people and their content. We ran a couple of Little Bird reports on Community Managers due to the occasion and CMAD founder Jeremiah Owyang graciously included some stats and analysis from our reports in his annual blog post about the day! It's a good post and Jeremiah is a great source on this and many other cutting edge social media and business matters.

We don't want to reproduce what Jeremiah posted on his blog, so we thought we'd just introduce the top 500 Community Managers globally and the top 500 in Europe here in this post using Twitter's List Embed function. (Here's a snapshot of our big report, though!)

WordPress doesn't want to let me show two widgets on one page, so here's the list for top 500 Community Managers in Europe.

Here's a rough map of where the people in the Global set are located.

Here's a few additional and fun details:

  • How are these lists built? Little Bird spiders out to find the network of social connections among thousands of community managers. Then we calculate which community managers command the most attention from their network peers. Finally, we sort the network and return the top 500 validated by their fellow community managers.
  • How did we put them all in these Twitter lists? That's one of the Export options that Little Bird business subscribers get with their subscription. Discovering, vetting and putting all these people into lists took about 10 minutes. Thinking about how to engage with them, what content to create based on this influencer discovery, that took several hours. Wouldn't you rather spend your time doing high-value creative work, instead of clicking a bunch of links? Let our robots click the links for you!
  • What else can Little Bird do? Imagine doing this analysis about your target market or community. Whether that's Action Sports, youth nutrition, aeronautics or wine - if there's a connected community on Twitter and blogs about your topic of interest - Little Bird can find it, map it, rank it, let you search inside it, see its hottest news each day and more.
  • What's your relationship with all these community managers? If you're already a Little Bird user, you can visit the Compare pages here US or here Europe and learn about your existing connections and your next opportunities to roll with the big dogs in this particular community. No Little Bird account? You can sign up to request access to one in the next days or weeks here.
  • Want a well-written, short introduction to the finer points of community marketing? One of the hottest links among top community managers today (detecting that is something else we do) was this great Slideshare from Microsoft/Yammer's Maria Ogneva, The Community Management Playbook.

Below: View a big image of the 50 leading peer-validated community managers who've been on Twitter the longest! Hail to the veterans in our field!

Social Media Influence isn't About Popularity, It's Contextual

  • 24 January 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Nobody cares what I say about cheese

There are at least three questions you should ask yourself before engaging online with influential thought leaders in your target market.

1. Which topical communities should I be looking at?

2. Who do the people inside of those communities respect most and listen to?

3. What can I do for those people?

Remember the old saying "9 out of 10 dentists recommend?"  If you're looking for information about the dental field, ask the dentists - not the neuroscientists or the cheese mongers.

Little Bird will answer for you, or help you answer, all of those 3 questions.

Contextual Connections Are Key

If I'm looking for top experts and influencers in the field of Neuroscience, what matters most is how many other neuroscience experts pay attention to someone I'm looking at engaging with.

Consider neuroscience writer Oliver Sacks, author of books like Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat.

Sacks is a generally popular author, but do other neuroscientists pay attention to him?  By analyzing his connections online, we can see that he's won the attention of other thought leaders in the field like Vaughan Bell, Marsha Lucas and Micah Allen, among many other neuroscience specialists.

That's super relevant, it's contextual, it makes sense that we count those connections in evaluating his influence in the world of Neuroscience.  (Incidentally, Sacks doesn't follow any of those three people back yet - but I've tweeted to him about it and perhaps he will!)

Irrelevant Followers Are Irrelevant

Oliver Sacks is also followed on Twitter by Rebecca Siegel, who is a cheese maker and goat herder in Vermont. That's cool, but is it relevant to evaluating his influence in the world of neuroscientists?  No.

On the other hand, if I wanted to know about cheese, Rebecca Siegel's judgement would be very important.  She's won the ear of leaders in the cheese industry like Marcella Wright and Tia Keenan.   Almost 100 other cheese industry leaders online follow Siegel on Twitter - which we understand means she's a very important player in that field.  Her opinion about neuroscience probably isn't relevant though.

Below: Rebecca Siegel has the ear of the cheese community.

That's why we believe that connections out of context, or even absolute popularity with the general public, are not the best way to evaluate someone's influence in a particular field.

We believe that in-group validation is the best metric.  It's made even more valuable because it cannot be gamed, or cheated.  There's no way you're going to win the attention of a whole bunch of neuroscience leaders without being pretty darned interesting.  Thus, working backwards, seeing who has won the attention of a bunch of neuroscientists is a good way to find out who neuroscientists find interesting.

We at Little Bird perform all this social network analysis faster, better and cheaper than any other system you'll find.  We'll lead you to the door of the top cheese mongers, neuroscientists or anyone else you like.  Then we'll help you figure out what you can do for them, too.  That's the subject of another post.

Imagine Facebook's Graph Search - but for business; That's what Little Bird is building

  • 16 January 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Facebook announced a major new feature today, called Graph Search, which allows you to limit a search to just the content and profiles that belong to your friends on Facebook. That's interesting for consumer market fun-time, but imagine how valuable this kind of approach to search could be for businesses.

If you want to find out which of your friends are single or like chocolate or have a dog, use Facebook's Graph Search. But if you want to find out what the smartest business experts on the web have to say about something important, then you should use Little Bird's Custom Search.

That's one of the ways to understand one of Little Bird's key features, which we call Custom Search. Instead of searching the content of your Facebook friends, though, Little Bird lets you search inside the blog and website content of any network of the web's leading experts on a particular topic. First we map out the network of the most-trusted experts on a topic, then we help you engage with those experts and their content in a variety of ways, including by searching their archival content.

Below: Searching for discussions of "HTML5 ads" on the blogs and sites of the web's leading Mobile Marketing experts.

This is an incredibly fast way to pull up background, research and niche expert content on anything - by drawing a circle around a particular part of the web and only searching inside of that circle of high-quality, on-topic websites. You can reference this content in the content you create and your audiences will assume that you just happened to have read a blog post from a deep subject matter expert months ago and have instant recall of what the post said. In truth, your secret weapon (Little Bird), simply made that information much easier for you to discover, on demand. If you take just a few minutes to do this, you will almost certainly be the most well-informed person in any conversation.

It's fun to search among your friends - but it's even more fun to totally rock at your job because you have all the writing of the world's leading experts at your fingertips.

This has been a challenging concept for us to communicate to people, I think because it's a new idea. It's no longer new though, if Facebook just started doing something analogous for hundreds of millions of people and their friends. That's going to be fun, but we believe that in a business context, this approach to search is incredibly powerful.

Note: Implementation of this feature is among the most-beta of the things happening here, so it may take a little extra experimentation if you're using Little Bird Custom Search today before the platform is released to General Availability. It should work pretty well already today, though!

For blog posts and other projects: 7 steps to collaborate with the most connected experts in your community

  • 15 January 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

YouTube exec Hunter Walk says (via Mark Suster) that you should write blog posts not to show how smart you are, but to get feedback on your thoughts from other smart people - because that's a great way to learn. How can you engage with smart people though? Here's how you can do it using Little Bird. Maybe you're already a Little Bird user, or maybe these strategies will inspire thoughts otherwise.

  1. Think of some keywords for your blog post or project.
  2. Run Little Bird reports on those keywords. We'll find up to 500 of the most connected, peer-validated people online who specialize in that topic.
  3. Visit the Compare pages of those reports and find top people already in your community that you can Direct Message (DM) on Twitter. If you aren't connected to any of the top experts in a topic, you should engage with them, add value and establish a relationship.
  4. DM them and ask if you can send them a draft of what you're working on.
  5. Incorporate any valuable feedback they send.
  6. Once you're done, DM people who did and didn't get back to you, closing the loop and sharing with them the finished product. If it's good, some percentage of them will reshare that content with the big networks they've established and which Little Bird used to discover them.
  7. You can also use the Search function to find blog posts written by top experts in your field that contain certain keywords. You can quote those blog posts to enrich your content and link to them to draw their influential attention to your content. You can also find their email address on their blog and email them asking for input on a draft.

    Below: I could DM any of these experts on the topic of Incubators and ask for their input on a relevant blog post. They already follow me on Twitter.

    Ta da! That's how Little Bird customers in media organizations, and I myself, have used Little Bird to add collaborative value and increased distribution to our blog posts. Do these ideas inspire any other ideas in you? Please share them here!

    See also: 5 Ways to grow your social business power using Little Bird's Compare Tool

Social networking is good for your career

  • 08 January 2013
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Time spent on social networks can be an incredible investment in your professional development - and not just because it can help you find your next job. For the work you're doing today, it can lead to increased job security, growth in compensation and lots of new opportunities.

Why is that?

I think the best articulation of this that I've read in some time comes from Chuck Frey's ebook Up Your Impact: 52 Innovative Strategies to Add Value to Your Work

Note: If social networking is good for your career, social networking augmented by a Little Bird subscription is great; where the writers below talk about finding great information, here at Little Bird we believe that one step better is finding great people who will share great information in the future. Find them now and you'll be among the first to find key information resources in the future.

First the set-up, from early in the book. I think this is a great way to approach work: to focus on adding value.

"Success has always been about contribution and service, about doing more than you’re paid to do, and outgrowing your current position and circumstances. It’s about having a system for creative problem solving and noticing new opportunities, which are all around us but aren’t usually obvious."

Then, later in the book, Frey writes specifically about the role of social networks and forums, in a section titled Participate in the flows of knowledge in your profession or industry.

There he advises professionals interested in increasing their workplace impact to do the following. "Get involved in discussion forums and other online gathering places where your professional peers are sharing ideas and asking questions. These 'edge networks' – as John Seeley Brown, John Hagel III and Lang Davidson describes them in their excellent book, The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion – are where some of the very best ideas and insights lie.

"This is becoming necessary because of the rapidly diminishing life span of knowledge and by accelerating advances in technology, medicine and other disciplines. Practitioners in any field need to be able to talk to each other and share the latest solutions and knowledge. 'To succeed now, we have to continually refresh our stocks of knowledge by participating in relevant ‘flows’ of knowledge—interactions that create knowledge or transfer it across individuals. These flows occur in any social, fluid environment that allows firms and individuals to get better faster by working with others.'"

"The authors contend that knowledge is growing too fast for executives to learn using conventional means, such as books, college courses and seminars. Social media channels and online discussion forums are quickly becoming hotbeds where people who share a common domain expertise can debate and discuss the latest trends in their area of shared interest.

"Participating in these groups also increases the odds of serendipity – coming across a key nugget of knowledge or information that has the potential to transform your career or your organization. Participating in these groups is a potent way to add value to your job, bringing promising ideas back from the edge to your company for discussion and consideration. Your reputation as a thought leader could be greatly enhanced by being the person who explores these fringe areas and presents potential opportunities to your company’s senior management."

What's the value of enhancing your reputation as a thought leader and presents potential opportunities to your company's senior management? (Or, if you are senior management, finding them yourselves?) Frey argues that in a world of post-industrial corporate downsizing, it's important to raise yourself above the level of interchangeable worker and make yourself a uniquely valuable contributor in the workplace. That will have a big impact on your job security. I believe that a big increase in the value that flows through you in the workplace is the best way to gain responsibilities, compensation and appreciation, too.

Here's how another good article puts it, The Future of You, in the Harvard Business Review, by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

"Whether you are self-employed or employed by others, whether you work in a big business or own a small business, your career success depends on your ability to offer something new: new solutions for existing problems; new services and products; new ideas; etc. Everything that isn't new is old, and if you are doing old you are stuck in the past. In the age entrepreneurship, the future of you is new, and your value depends on your ability to do things differently. As the great Alan Kay pointed out, 'a change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.'

"Hyperconnectivity is about being a signal in the sea of data and making and shaping the waves of social knowledge.
We are all online, but what matters is being a relevant connector. Hyperconnectivity is not about being online 24/7; it's about optimizing the online experience for others...

"The world's knowledge is too large to be stored anywhere; Wikipedia and Google aren't enough; the Library of Congress isn't enough. Hyperconnectors point us in the right direction. Anybody can upload a video on YouTube or tweet, but only a few can direct us to the videos or tweets we want to see.

"The most important form of knowledge today is knowing where to find stuff. In fact, the ability to find stuff is now almost as important as the ability to create stuff. Hyperconnectors are the creative of the digital era because in the age of information overload, where everybody creates online content, effectively curating content is what really matters."

How did I find these important pieces of content above, in order to share them with you? The Future of You piece was in HBR, which is a well-known great source of information. But there are more sources of value online than any individual person knows and Little Bird can help you find them. Chuck Frey, the author of the book containing the first excerpt here, is a mind mapping expert - in fact he's the mind mapping expert followed on Twitter by more other mind mapping experts than anyone else. I ran a Little Bird report on Mind Mapping a few days ago, and then looked up the top 20 people in the report over on Google+. There's great content there - and I made the Circle I created public, thus sharing not one item of value but a whole stream of valuable items in the future. Feel free to follow all those people there too.

We here at Little Bird hope that 2013 will be a great time for you to find all kinds of valuable nuggets of information and actionable opportunities that will help increase your workplace value and fulfillment! Please let us know if there's any way we can help you in that work.

5 Ways to grow your social business power using Little Bird's Discover Connections tool

  • 18 December 2012
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

Once we've mapped out the top people in any field online, Little Bird offers a number of tools for engaging with those leaders in your field of interest. One of the most interesting is our Compare page (now renamed Discover Connections), which you can find in the orange menu labeled Tools on each report.

Enter any Twitter username on that page and Little Bird will show you the connections between that person and the list of industry leaders we discovered.

What can you do with that information? A lot. Here are 5 things we've done here at Little Bird, or helped some of our customers do, in order to grow our businesses.

[You can join a Little Bird webinar Wednesday 19 December 2012 to learn how these ideas work in action.]

You can follow along with these steps once you've got a Little Bird login - try comparing yourself, your company or your competitors to our report on leaders in the Startup community.

1. Find new leaders to follow

Enter your own Twitter handle and Little Bird will tell you which leaders in the field you're not following yet. Click to follow them and you'll be subscribed to their messages in your stream. They'll receive a notification that you did. Your Twitter stream will help you stay up-to-date with the top developments in your industry, quickly and efficiently, with the addition of the top people in the field. That means you'll be informed about key developments faster and smarter than other people.


For example: This is the simplest way to use Compare and everyone who visits the page does this!

2. Create an influencer engagement game plan

Little Bird will show you a ranked list of the top people in a field who are not yet following you. You can take a look at what they're talking about online, add value to their conversations (try using the Search tool in your report for fast research into ways you can add value to discussion) and see if you can flip them from not following into new followers of what you post. With each new connection you earn, you'll be developing relationships with the top people online in your field. Those people can deliver new opportunities, leads, actionable insights and more through your connections.

For example: Little Bird users leverage the Compare page like this when they have time to build strong relationships with key people in preparation to reach out to them later. That kind of well-developed relationship, highly targeted and based on a history of adding value, means you can reach out without it being a "cold call."


3. Discover your freshest connections

When you enter your Twitter username in Little Bird, at the bottom of the page you'll see a list of the most recent influencers in the topic of your report to have begun following you. This is a great place to focus your engagement and strengthen new relationships - these are industry leaders for whom you're at the top of their minds.

For example: This feature is used primarily by Little Bird users focused on developing a few strong relationships with leaders in an industry, not on just initiating a wide range of connections.

4. Find top people to reach out to by DM

Have a question about something? Need some high-powered help? Little Bird's compare page shows you the top people in any field who are following you on Twitter - and that means you can send those people a private, Direct Message. Direct Messages are a powerful way to get someone's attention, it's like calling them on the telephone, and Little Bird will help you remember who the top people in your field are that you can message. Here at Little Bird, we often DM top people with requests for email or phone conversations about specific projects we're working on. It works really well; don't let the relationships you've already built online sit underutilized!

For example: Little Bird users looking for introductions into large organizations, like media companies, run reports on those organizations - or on their own companies' names - and cross reference to see who they already know and can reach out to. I did this when Little Bird launched and I wanted to get coverage in Fastcompany. (It worked well, I was connected to someone there that helped me talk to a reporter on staff that wrote a very nice article.) We've advised other companies using Little Bird to do the same thing.

5. Research someone else's connections

Want to know just how connected someone is in a particular industry? Want to know who their latest, or oldest connections are? (That will show you what they've been thinking about and where they came from.) Little Bird's Compare page isn't just for learning about your own connections - you can put anyone's Twitter name in that page and learn about their connections online. Who don't they know about in their field yet? They might appreciate an introduction being made.


Those are some of the ways we and other Little Bird users have found value in the Compare page. That's just one of several different tools for gaining the upper hand in social business that come with every Little Bird report.

We hope you enjoy and find loads of business value in these power tools for hacking the social graph! It's still early in the game, there's no better time to start seizing competitive advantage than now.

The Web's Top Innovators: Who Do They Learn From?

  • 29 November 2012
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick

If you're interested in the process and cutting edge of Innovation, who better to pay attention to than the leaders in the field? Ever since Clayton Christensen wrote The Innovator's Dilemma in 1997, his name has been synonymous with the study of Innovation. It turns out, though, that there are three other innovation specialists online who have the ear of more of their peers than Christensen does. (Only three though, that's pretty impressive!)

Who are those Innovation specialists most-watched by others in the field? Number one is Danish intraprenuership consultant Stefan Lindegaard. On Twitter, which we believe is a good proxy for online social capital in general and where the data about who follows whom is accessible to us, Lindegaard is watched by top leaders in the field of Innovation like Saul Kaplan, Helen Walters and Arie Goldshlager. All those top leaders also follow Clayton Christensen, but Christensen has the ear of #2 on the list,  Richard Florida, too. All of these Innovation specialists are at the top of our report on the topic because they're being followed by hundreds of other leading thinkers in the field.

Beyond individuals, though, the #1 voice in the Innovation community, according to the report I just ran on Little Bird, is an organization. Can you guess which one?

If you want to connect with someone relatively new to social media but already hot among Innovation leaders, check out John Wolpert. He's been around startups, IBM and the Harvard Business Review for years, but he just started Tweeting at @Innosanity this Spring. We found him in just a few minutes, as we did the top 500 other members of the Innovation community, by analyzing the connections between members of that community. That's what we do here at Little Bird: we map and graph those topical social connections and then give you tools for engaging with leaders in the field and their content.

Here are the top 20 individuals in the Innovation community online, as measured by connections inside of the big index of Innovation specialists that our technology created.  Our full report contains 500 people and organizations, and a whole pile of tools to engage with them.  Below, a screenshot of the hottest news today and this week among leaders in the field.

  • @lindegaard
    Stefan Lindegaard
    I am an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship. You can follow my work on
  • @Richard_Florida
    Richard Florida
    Urbanist, Author, Professor, Researcher, Talker, Bike Rider, Guitar Player
  • @skap5
    Saul Kaplan
    Author, The Business Model Innovation Factory, BIF Founder & Chief Catalyst
  • @claychristensen
    Clayton Christensen
    Professor at Harvard Business School. Author of @MeasureYourLife. Tweets with occasional assistance from the Fellows at the Forum for Growth & Innovation.
  • @HelenWalters
    Helen Walters
    Innovation and design writer/editor. Once at BusinessWeek, then Bloomberg, now at Doblin. Writer of @tysst, TED conference live blogger, etc.
  • @tom_peters
    Tom Peters
    author, speaker, professional agitator, labeled the Red Bull of management thinking
  • @ariegoldshlager
    Arie Goldshlager
    Director of Customer Experience Management at KPMG Management Consulting. The opinions expressed here are my own.
  • @jorgebarba
    Jorge Barba
    Innovation Insurgent who's all about making change happen. Creativist. @Disney Fanatic. Passionate about creating a smarter world. Chief Strategist @blumaya
  • @rachelbotsman
    rachel botsman
    Social Innovator. Speaker. Author on the power of collaborative technologies to transform business, public services and the way we live.
  • @CreativeSage
    Cathryn Hrudicka
    Creative Sage™ lives a passionate personal mission to cause the spontaneous combustion of creativity, innovation, and compassionate intelligence everywhere.
  • @socialentrprnr
    Nathaniel Whittemore
    A feed of stories and news about social entrepreneurship, culled from @change and around the web. Managed by @nlw Photo: Chaval Brasil via Flickr
  • @InnovationFixer
    Kevin McFarthing
    Innovation specialist, expert in Open Innovation, Strategic Alliances and R&D.
  • @kiwanja
    Ken Banks
    Mobile technologist. Anthropologist | Tech Awards Laureate. Nat Geo Emerging Explorer. Ashoka Fellow | Founder: @FrontlineSMS
  • @MeansofExchange@bizinovationist
    Clay Maxwell
    Business Innovationist (Consultant) @ firm merging design thinking and business strategy. Interested in anything that creates value for people, orgs and planet.
  • @Jabaldaia
    Jose Baldaia
    Psychologist-Consultant Organizational Behavior and Innovation. Independent thinker Research areas: Creativity, Innovation, Design Thinking, Service Design
  • @chuckfrey
    Chuck Frey
    Author/publisher of the Mind Mapping Software Blog & Author of the new book @upyourimpact.
  • @auerswald
    Philip Auerswald
    Author, The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Economy. @innovationsjrnl, @makersonthemall. Adviser to @clintonglobal.
  • @dscofield
    Deb Mills-Scofield
    Status quo challenger; #innovation & #strategic planning are about WhyNot/Why, AND/BOTH. Has lots of of fun & hopefully makes an impact! Also @bluelobsternets
  • @rachelhaot
    Rachel S. Haot
    Chief Digital Officer for @nycgov. (formerly Rachel Sterne)
  • @Claire
    Claire Diaz-Ortiz
    I lead social innovation at Twitter & wrote Twitter for Good. [Me: Speaker, Author, Blogger, MBA, Stanford/Oxford, Startup Advisor.]

Below: An example of just one of the tools Little Bird provides based on the key influencers we discover. These are the hottest links among top Innovation experts today and this week.

Little BIrd Innovation Report Hot News

The true value of online influencers: It's not about parroting your messages

  • 20 November 2012
  • By Marshall Kirkpatrick
This is the first post on the new Little Bird company blog, by co-founding CEO Marshall Kirkpatrick. Little Bird automates the discovery and vetting of experts and influencers online, about any topic, and helps you engage with them and their content.

Kim Kardashian was once paid $10,000 to Tweet about an online shoe company—is that the pinnacle of influencer engagement online? I'd argue just the opposite—that might have been an all-time low-point in the world's understanding of social media.

The self-publishing revolution of social media has enabled any of us to pull up a seat directly in front of some of the world's leading thinkers and stars—and what do we do with that opportunity? All too often, we tug at their shirtsleeves and plead with them to tell their audiences about us. That can certainly happen, it's great when these people do talk about us, but there's so much more value to be captured by the radical new access we have today thanks to social media.

Businesses that look at social media as a source of free or cheap promotion are really missing out. I think more people realize that every day, but I think when it comes to online influencer identification: counterpoints to "influencers as promotional vehicles" need to be articulated and amplified.

When it does come to promotion of your brand by an independent influencer online, promotion is more likely to happen and be more meaningful if you've also taken advantage of these other opportunities to generate and capture value along the way.

High leverage learning

Is there anything more valuable than learning something new that changes the way you look at work or the world around you? A reservoir of knowledge, compiled through experience, connections, study and practice, is a powerful foundation to increase the impact of everything you do. Each new big learning experience is a catalyst to kickstart the effectiveness of your work.

Little Bird top influencers in Professional Development, in general: Rich KikerShelly Terrell and Kyle Pace.

Nothing flies as fast across the web these days as an infographic or a numbered list. Why? Because both are items you can very quickly glean glimmers of knowledge from. That's the fruit of editorial labor, like pressure turning coal into a diamond. That's what people at the top of their fields in social media can offer, too, in a world swimming with mediocre content.

What if the best gift a top market influencer could share with you was not their voice, but their mind? People at the top of their game aren't just good at doing what they do—they're really good at learning how to do it better. I bet that shoe company could have captured a lot more long-term promotional impact by engaging meaningfully with Kim Kardashian, her team of publicists and strongest connections, than they did by crassly paying her to Tweet. Who knows. Perhaps they did both.

Once you've identified the most influential experts in a particular field, the first step is to be quiet and listen. The longer you can listen, the more you'll learn; the more you engage humbly, the more likely those influencers will amplify your message later. What do you call a well-informed, respectful, sustained engagement? A relationship.

There are a lot of ways to use our service here at Little Bird, but some of my favorite use cases are when customers just use our tools to find people to learn from. The faster you can find the strongest minds in your field, the faster you can dive deep into learning and the more you can get out of it. For creating content, for advising clients, for whatever kind of work that you do.

A rocket ship into the future

Finding out who's sharing important information about a topic of interest right now is useful, but finding out who's likely to share important information in the future offers competitive advantage.

Little Bird's top influencers among Futurists: Clay Shirky, Venessa Miemis and Cindy Frewen.

Little Bird report on futurists

When I worked as a journalist, I used systematic methods to identify where information was most likely to bubble up early in the news cycle—then I set up systems to sit by those sources and watch (using automation, alerts, etc.) so that I could jump on any breaking news they found before my competitors.

Now, working as a entrepreneur in a new market (research and marketing technology), I'm using technology to identify people who've won the respect of their peers and who I should prioritize engaging with in the limited time I have while building a company. (We're participating in a startup incubator, too, where the people in charge exercise their editorial judgement in selecting speakers to schedule.)

Online, top influencers are best engaged-with as a long-term investment. If you can defer your need for help with promotion and just focus on learning and adding value, then you'll be more likely to have access to much greater opportunities in the future.

Those are some of my thoughts about the non-promotional value you can capture through effective engagement with top influencers in your industry. I'd love to read about your thoughts. Feel free to share them in comments below, I'm sure everyone would like to read them!