The Marketer’s Drug of Choice: Influence

by Jay Deragon on 11/16/2011

Social media is creating an addiction to influence, popularity and whatever new badge of the moment arises.  Human nature has been and always will be susceptible to anything that appeals to ones perceived self worth.  Marketers have been prying on human nature since the early days of Genesis, remember the apple’s appeal?  Our self awareness, influenced from the outside, can become the drug of self satisfaction.

It is interesting to see how the motivation for money and influence is playing out in all things social  The landscape of all things social has turned into a race for false influence and self promotion.

In an AdAge article titled “Hey, Klout, What Are You Really Measuring?” Judy Shapiro writes In fact, now I am beginning to wonder if ANY externally driven Influence scoring methodology is useful given the complexity in determining who has influence and in what areas, (more than once I was amused at how Klout thought I was expert on “Russia” or “Warfare” – maybe because my blog is called “Trenchwars”).

So I also can’t help but question whether Klout would do well to not to re-calibrate their “Influence” scoring model (which then disqualifies it as a “standard” by any measure) but to recalibrate exactly what they are REALLY measuring. Stripping away techno-buzz, isn’t it more accurate to say that Klout is really measuring a person’s content distribution capabilities – not their influence at all?

And if you are willing to consider this approach, then it’s much easier to see how Klout becomes a far more effective tool for everyone. Using a content syndication model takes this amorphous Influence score and re-expresses it as standardized and actionable media channel m with useful CPM and effective reach metrics.

Personally, this makes so much more sense all around even though it lacks the techno-cool buzz that media loves to talk about.

In the end, its useful to remind ourselves that, as marketers, even if we can measure influence, this still leaves us miles from real prize which is to create trust to drive a sale. I ended my post in May with this observation that’s worth repeating: “In understanding influence – it’s the fundamentals of trust that marketers really need to think about. Everything else is noise.”

All things social have become yet another way to commercialize human intents and feed them with egotistical badges of self promotion.  The commercialization of  “influence and popularity” changes the intent of human interaction. This includes peddling influence for money or ego strokes rather than using influence for the creation of new value exchanges. 

For centuries wisdom has taught mankind that value comes from an intent to serve rather than self serve . Maybe it is time to go back to the future.

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