The same truth holds for marketers who want to begin to build relationships with influencers in the social-media universe, although the parallel might not seem obvious. So much of a campaign's success or failure is determined by understanding up front what makes people tick. The key to the game is unearthing a common denominator and then throwing fuel on their fire -- all within the context of your brand.
Here are three resources that all marketers should have in their toolkits to mine for such insights:
DuggTrends (duggtrends.com): Since it launched in late 2004, Dugg has become a force to be reckoned with. The collaborative news site is known for bringing down servers it links to. The interesting thing about the Dugg community is that you can actually learn how to devise programs that are "diggable." DuggTrends has all the data you need to understand what makes Digg tick.
Quantcast (quantcast.com): Quantcast bills itself as an "open internet ratings service." This clearinghouse of data can provide rich demographic information about individual properties, provided they have enough data on these sites. For example, Quantcast data reveal that 62% of YouTube visitors are passersby as opposed to addicts.
Tailrank (Tailrank.com): Tailrank is one of an emerging class of sites called "memetrackers" that cull the hottest discussions from thousands of blogs. Tailrank features three channels: technology, entertainment and politics. In addition, you can upload a set of URLs into Tailrank to track the big conversational themes within just these sites.
While Bill Parcells may rely on a bevy of high-priced scouts and reels of tape to outline the tendencies of next week's opposing quarterback, the tools you need may be a click away. You just have to know where to look.
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Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.