A separate task to get under way when you are monitoring a community is the identification of its key members: as we discussed, their opinion carries a lot of weight with community members, and achieving a positive bias with them is a key objective.
Experience shows that a few weeks are normally enought to draw a surprisingly precise profile of Community Leader, also because at the end of the day, we are not necessarily looking for real life data such as true name & surname (albeit they are often available), and moreover, we are only searching information voluntarily provided by the members themselves (remember our Privacy caveat?).
If “Max78″ is motorcycling community leader, what I need to do is convince him of my thesis, whatever it is; the fact that in real life Max78 is a lawyer or a railway engineer is of very little importance. I am therefore much more interested in what Max78 has to say about topics close to my topic of interest, his leanings on relevant controversial issues and I can understand all that simply by listening to what he says, intead of having to jump through hoops to snatch sensitive data about his marital status or salary.
Respecting people’s privacy is therefore both ethical and smart, as the information which are most useful for the job are also the ones that are firmly in the public domain.
A good Leader profile normally includes also a map of neighboring communities: centered on the Leader we are monitoring, this map provides a guide to identify communities neighborhood relationships: Max78 posts on Harley communities, is a road safety expert but also likes Hard Rock music. It is not uncommon for very active Leaders to post tens and in some extreme cases hundreds of times a week, but by no means unique to this class of people, so identifying them is also needed to avoid wasting time profiling inconsequential members.