What Is Social Media Influence?
It’s a term that’s really hard to define, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Klout deems themselves as the standard of influence, but is it actually influence that they measure? It depends – what are your goals?
If your goals are to have as many re-tweets and likes as possible, then yeah, they’re probably a decent measure of influence. But there are issues with gaming Klout sores that might render these engagement scores completely useless.
But what if you’re a brand trying to influence people to buy, or try out a new product? Klout can’t measure that. So what do you do, how do you measure influence? How do you even define influence?
What do the experts think?
Some of the top experts on “influencer marketing” don’t even agree on a definition of influence.
“popularity is not influence and influence is not popularity. I believe that the strategy of finding influential people is an old marketing tactic. With the web, we should focus on established connections and not simply on influential people. These people may not be as visible as the celebrities, and they may not have the highest Klout rankings, but they have the right attributes to produce the positive results you need… Marketers who can find and motivate large numbers of people with this type of clout will fare better than those who rely on celebrities with Klout.”
Now compare this to another influence expert, Mark W. Schaefer (@markwschaefer), who states that social proof is the best measure of online influence, or maybe the ONLY measure of online influence. In an article, he says that:
“A badge like number of Twitter followers or a Klout score may be the ONLY mechanism we have to determine influence in the online world. Offline, we may have the chance to meet people, or ask a mutual friend to help us determine credibility. But this type of validation is often not possible online, so we seek a shortcut, and on the social web, there are plenty of them!”
Even the experts don’t agree on the definition of online influence! Who’s right? Is the true definition somewhere in between? What is social media influence?
So what is social media influence?
Here are my views on the definition of influence: Influence is the art of creating action. In the case of social media, this could be creating action personally, or on behalf of a brand.
Your mom is an influencer, your friends, your boss, celebrities, actors, physicians, a stranger, etc. Anyone, at any point in time, can have influence over your actions. Even when they’re not there, they have influence over your actions! Have you ever found yourself wondering what your loved ones would think about you doing a certain action, or buying a certain product? They’re not physically there, but they still influenced your actions.
The point is influence means something different to everyone. From a brand perspective, it really comes down to what are your goals, and then finding people that can help you achieve these goals. If it’s brand awareness you want, find a few influencers with large audiences that can spread your message around. If you want sales, find people that can credibly talk about your product, and get them to help promote your message (e.g. professional chef endorsing a new type of jelly). Find out what you want to do BEFORE you try to find people that can influence action.
What are your views on influence? Do you have a definition you want to share? Please leave a comment below! :)