The meaning of influence in networking

Photo by LordNikon

Photo by Lord Nikon

These days in business marketing, and especially on-line, we hear a huge amount about influence. How much influence does a marketer or networker have?

In social media, some measure influence in terms of their Klout or PeerIndex score. Actually they are very crude tools, especially Klout. What they really measure is how much we Tweet or post on Facebook. PeerIndex does index blogging, but all these tools really measure is how much noise we make on-line.

It is the same with off-line networking. We may put out our message to the room and we may do so in a very loud voice. We might go to every networking meeting there is in our area and eat breakfast out every day of the week. However it does not mean we will get loads of business.

The confusion is between, on the one hand, being seen everywhere trilling our message on Twitter or over our scrambled eggs, and on the other, our networks actually listening to us and taking notice because they believe we have something to offer. It is easy to shout the loudest and most often, but more difficult to get over our message that we are people to be trusted with business.

We do not want our Tweet or a fried breakfast message being taken with more than a pinch of salt. We need to be genuine, sincere and ourselves to get that trust, don’t we/

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Social media marketing and influence

Orchids - a welcome distraction from on-line posting

Too much information

We all get deluged with everyone’s ideas of how to use social media for marketing, with many emails from various “experts” telling us what to do. We can all use tips, but there is no clear template which will work for all of us. We all have different businesses, different needs and different products and services. We have to experiment to find what works for us.

Of course there are “tools” we can use, but I doubt they have much value because they are limited in what they can measure.

Twitter takes a holiday

At the beginning of this month my wife and I took a break and had a week away. Broadband was limited where we were staying but anyway I hardly wanted to tweet about every view and every meal or say what a good time we had looking at orchids because we were just looking to chill out. If you visit Jersey I recommend a visit.  However, my Klout score fell because it only measures activity and if we are not tweeting or posting to Facebook or another network, as far as Klout is concerned we are not influencing anyone.

Klout purports to measure influence, but actually it only measures the number of times we pop up, mainly on Twitter and Facebook. If we are walking along the street when someone starts jumping up and down saying “hey, look at me” we might look at them once, but unless the person has something really interesting to say both then and every time we see them, we are hardly going to be influenced by them otherwise than to avoid them in the future. So sorry, Klout, but you are not much help. I will keep my account but mark your report “could do better” in the hope that you will.

Going unpunished

Then there is PeerIndex. PeerIndex didn’t punish me for going on holiday. We can register our websites and blogs and it measures inbound links to them . What it cannot measure is the actual number of hits we get, our bounce rate, what people think of our material and how often, if ever, they come back. So PeerIndex is more rounded in terms of measurement of our internet spread, but it doesn’t help with the influence bit. However I can compare my activity more reasonably with that of people I know and respect.

Games people play

I think PeerIndex is a better attempt than Klout in measuring real effort in social media and web marketing, but that is as far as it goes. I can give it a B+ compared with Klout’s C-.

The only way we can really gauge our on-line marketing efforts is through enquiries from prospective customers; both the number and the quality. Ultimately the real measure is in sales. It is up to us to experiment and change to see what works and what doesn’t. We shouldn’t rely on crude measures, though they are an interesting game and I sort of like PeerIndex because the thinking behind what they do shows more awareness of what people like to know.

What do you find useful? And talking of games, whatever happened to Empire Avenue? Does anyone still play it?


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