Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Alien's Take on Social Influence

Recently I have seen a lot of blogs being written on Social Influence. This has me thinking about the meaning of Social Influence. What is it you are influencing? Just something being passed on?

Recently Tom Moradpour had a nice blog post about Social Influence. He wishes there were standards so we can all agree on what it is, then we can find it's actual value. I agree we need standards 100%. I also agree Klout has done the best to create a Brand. Even more impressive they respond on Twitter. I had the CEO and Founder respond to me on Friday over some tweets!

Klout has improved  significantly now that the scores update on their own. In the past unless someone manually refreshed it was stale and old.

My specific issue with Influence Analysis is context and important information is not included.  Who is this person in real life? Are they someone who gets photographed and put in People Magazine thus causing products to be sold? Are you someone who moves sales needles just by people you call on the phone or places you hang out at? What if I am not on Twitter or Facebook and I have 3 close friends who tweet stuff I email them and it travels. What if I see something on Twitter and then call my friend who is the head buyer for Macy's and that call just got a huge order placed to a small fashion house? How can you determine where the influences came from in these scenarios? Is it just about pushing info that get's re-pushed?

What about the content? Great content get's moved on it's own. It has nothing to do with a person's influence it has to do with the content's influence. If I am a source of great content, and I don't share poor content what does that mean? It means you have to get me to see great content to have it passed on. 

And what about the goals of the influence? Is it page views so you can increase advertising revenues? Is it sales in retail stores? Is it people coming to your restaurant? Is it exposure for your art or writing? None of this gets captured in influence scores. How can you connect these things, especially with anything that happens offline. How can you know the kind of Influencer I am?

And what about the fact that most of our lives take place off line even if we are online so much. We have no solid way to measure off line Word of Mouth, Phone Call Influence, In Person Influence, the Influence from seeing Billboards/Print Ads/TV Ads/People on the Street, or even the influence of the Sales guy or the Special Deal at the store. And to really get Social Media Influence we have to tie this stuff in!

I know you think 'Well this is only online influence we care about.' Yes and No. All depends on your goal. I have mentioned before how much Ad Spend goes up in smoke at point of purchase. Social Influence does as well! Passing of Information is one thing, Action is another. Does it matter that my Chic Restaurant used Social to expose my place to 3 million people via Social for Free if no one shows up at my Restaurant? Or that 3 million get shown a teaser of my new book resulting in zero sales?

This is very complex stuff. My point is online Social Influence to me is a small piece to a bigger puzzle. It can mean way too many things. Every person or company hoping to push something via Social has completely different Goals and a Klout Score won't solve this. I still think Great Content, Great Product/Service, Great Customer Service, Great Price Point still trumps everything.

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