Thoughts on Social Influence


I have two perspectives on this subject: Personal and Professional. Let me start with my personal feelings on “influencers” (specifically on social media)

The Personal Perspective:

It’s stupid. Somebody is not an “influencer” unless they can make some kind of impact on the purchase or action decisions of another person. There is also no ONE metric to rule them all, this doesn’t exist – so stop looking to companies like Klout to provide you with your “Influencer Marketing” silver bullet. Let’s be honest. Klout is about Vanity. That’s all there is to it. People want to be seen as influential, so they game their scores to make them higher; grabbing all sorts of free (but cheap) goodies along the way.

One Sharpie does not an “influencer” make.

I think it’s nice to have some sort of guideline about how your activity on social media measures up, but scores like Klout are labeled incorrectly. Klout is not about ability to drive action, it’s about ability to drive a response. My Klout score is higher because Sally-Jane retweeted me, not because I influenced her to do anything. Klout, Kred, PeerIndex are all measures of activity.

In fact, if they were really measuring influence, they would measure click throughs, bounce rates, conversions, what have you. But they don’t. So voila.

I must admit I was a little taken aback when my score dropped 10 points, angry even. Then I sat back and realized how vain I was being, and this outward facing “scientific” score dropping 10 points was nothing but that same vanity kicking me in the ass.

In my personal opinion, there is no such thing as an influencer in social media. Even Google Chrome puts the red squiggly underneath the word because it simply does not compute. What social media has made people, is media. Everyone is a journalist, and the angry or happy opinion of one could contribute to the purchase, or non-purchase of another. No matter their Klout score, no matter their follower count.

From the Perspective of the Brand:

Klout is actually a good thing for brands, believe it or not. It can be used not as a measure of influence, but a way to navigate through the millions of millions of people that occupy social media. Put it this way, Klout has all the potential of an advertising platform like Facebook or Google or a newspaper even. They can reach more people then the brand can (somewhere in the millions), they can put your name in front of those users, you can potentially generate hundreds of thousads of impressions by letting them do all the work.


Klout scores (unfortunately) have become quite the standard in the process of identifying “social influence” (AKA a way not to waste your money on a message that won’t go anywhere). The larger your following, the larger your interaction can stretch, the more likely you are to echo that message through the hallway of the virtual high school that we call social media.

Like in traditional marketing, the more eyeballs you can get on your message, the more bang for your buck.

Don’t be offended if your score has dropped, and don’t automatically discount Klout. The social peeps that work for brands are well aware of the changes, and in most cases – they’re mad about their score dropping as well (ahem). They will set the threshold about 10 points lower, and the world will be well again.

You will still get your damn sharpie.





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