Introducing the Influencers

Want to know where public opinion might be going?  Ask the Influencers.

Influencers represent Canadians who consume a lot of news and are influential among their peers, family, and friends.  They share information, make their opinions known, and influence others.  They help move public opinion by acting as filters between the media, elites, and other Canadians.

Abacus Data’s The Influeners is based on The Strength of Personality Scale developed by the Allensbach Survey Center in Germany which identified a group of the most active opinion leaders called, the “influentials.”

We replicated this measure in our surveys by asking respondents a series of 11 survey questions that are statistically weighted according to their correlations with the scale (Noelle-Nuemann, 1985).

Influencers are opinion leaders who are active communicators on issues that span multiple subject areas.

In the Abacus Data version of the measure, Influencers are also identified by their media consumption habits.

By testing respondents’ self-perceived levels of personal influence we can identify this group within the Canadian population. As tested by the Allensbach Institut the Strength of Personality Scale is shown to validly reflect a measure of real communication flow and level of influence across samples (Weimann,1991).

How are they different?

Generally speaking, the influencers are more aware of current events and public affairs issues because they consume more news.  But more important, they like to talk about the news, share ideas with their networks, and try to influence the debate.

Take for example the debate around Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline that would connect the Alberta oil sands to BC’s northern coast with a pipeline to transport bitumen.

We asked respondents in a national survey in August their awareness of the issue, how closely they are following it, and what their views were on the pipeline.

The results demonstrate a significant difference between the influencers in the Canadian public and everyone else.

Influencers were much more likely to say they were aware of the issue and they were following it much more closely.

Why do they matter?

Influencers matter because of the impact they can have on their network – especially when it comes to public affairs issue.  Most Canadians are not paying attention to what happens in Ottawa or in provincial capitals.  But influencers are paying attention.  And they are talking about the issues, influencing their peers, and trying to move the debate along.

Find the influencers and convince them of your position and you are going to be much more successful in moving public opinion your way.