The Rise of Digital Influence: A True Measure?

Have you ever gone on vacation and noticed your Klout score plummet? Does that mean you are less influential than you were before you went on vacation?

Brian Solis‘ new Altimeter Report “The Rise of Digital Influence” shares that current influencer metric platforms reward the individuals who are not necessarily the most influential.

Solis says that these influencer programs are not a true measure of influence because those who don’t game the system end up getting written out of it [eg taking a vacation]. Currently vendors are shaping the behaviors of the people who care about the score, rather than supporting the nature of influence and groups

Klout generates its influence number via twitter [retweets and mentions], Facebook [comments, wall-posts, likes], LinkedIn [comments, likes], Foursquare [tips, to-do’s, done] and Google + [comments, reshares].

Solis says that whilethese tools are sophisticated algorithms to calculate a corresponding number, theydo not take into account all of the complexities of influence and the nature of relationships between people in social networks.”

In the real world, influential people don’t attain influence by trying to be influential. Influence is built by passion, consistency and commitment. The individual is passionate about something and they talk about it, a lot. They spend countless hours in their community. And many of the communities where one would see real influence are not included in the vendor algorithms currently.

For example, there are over fifty million groups on Facebook, two million groups on LinkedIn, one hundred thousand communities on Ning, ten million groups on Yahoo! and that doesn’t include the thousands of other platforms hosting millions of niche groups. Out of these communities, there are five to ten percent that are active and thriving. Within this five to ten percent of active communities influencers (community leaders) hold a different kind of sway with their communities. Many of the strongest relationships exist in forums or niche communities where engagement levels are incredibly high. Much higher than you would find than on a brand’s Facebook page.

When the community leader says jump, the community jumps. It’s the trust established in these private forums that show deeply engaged community members, and deeply committed influencers (who don’t have a Klout score).

image source

Vendors who arrived first should be recognized and applauded for the path they’ve paved. In parallel, it’s a great time to examine where we are, and where we need to be to provide the most value to the entities that want to connect with their advocates in a different way.

Consider the comments of David Armano of Edelman Digital who said in the same report, “the idea that only large networks can cause effect is a myth.”

It might take us years to move away from the language of impressions. After all they don’t always translate into achieving a company’s specific end goals of leveraging social.

As technology providers, the more we can mirror real life, the more powerful our interactions, and our understanding of our interactions online. The systems currently support the people who work on social media and work at it–but not the other passionate community leaders who are truly influential among their cause.

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