Your Followers Are No Measure of Your Influence


Your Followers Are No Measure of Your Influence Is a recent article on By Matthew Creamer With the strap line : Popularity on Twitter or Facebook Is Just That; It's the Ability to Drive Behaviour That Matters

Selected points from a good article that is worth reading in full

·        marketers have fantasized about a world in which they can identify a small number of influential folks who can credibly, effectively and cheaply push product for them.

·        One of the nasty side effects of the rapid growth of social media is that it threatens to warp our understanding of influence.

·        what does all that information mean, if it adds up to anything more than a popularity contest and what, exactly, does a tweet influence a person to think, believe or do?

·        Klout, gives Mr. Bieber a perfect score of 100. "You can't get any more influential than this," reads his summary. "People hang on your every word, and share your content like no other. You're probably famous in real life and your fans simply can't get enough."

·        Duncan Watts a researcher for Yahoo, equipped with evidence that showed cascades -- chain reactions where one user passes something to another, and so on -- are nearly impossibly to predict, he argued that, rather than focus on finding a few, highly influential people to spread a message, anyone who wants to "go viral" should be on getting a message to as many people as possible. In other words, you have to hedge your bets and not simply rely on your models of influence, however finely honed they might be.

·        In a 2009 experiment in Twitter, Mr. Watts concluded, that word-of-mouth diffusion can only be harnessed reliably by targeting large numbers of potential influencers, thereby capturing average effects." In other words, reaching a large number of more ordinary Joes and Janes with a message might be more effective than trying to tap into Bieber fever.

So what!

An important part of the analysis of a digital footprint is to determine influence.  Who influences who and who do you influence. But the concept was to take an entire footprint of the person not just one aspect.  The influence needs to be able to effect product or buying decisions, not retweeting links, gossip, rumour and news. 

Followers (size and fascination) are probability as measure of your status, celebrity, professionalism or news worthiness, so I would agree with the outcome, but do believe that knowing who influences you and who you influence is still a valid strategy for brands, but it is just a load more complex than counting tweets.