Social Media Influence

There’s been a bunch of talk about influence and how to measure it, what to do with it and how to work it within the space of social media, PR and marketing. For me, it’s not that influence doesn’t exist, I believe in some respects it does — however — I think taking business or personal action around it is a poor choice for one to make.

Take me for example. I’m not that influential. I have 2,550 Twitter followers and 546 Facebook friends. By the numbers, I’m a drop in the bucket compared to a Chris Brogan, a Guy Kawasaki or a Bill Gates. To a robot, I am insignificant for a corporation’s PR team to bother with and my feedback doesn’t have a big dent in a company’s image. That robot is named Klout.

Measuring the influence of someone online is breeding ignorance of the fact that we’re human and will have varying levels of discrimination (and endorsement) of others’ views. After all, anyone who has strong influence online (per Klout) had to start somewhere. They just happened to start several years ago at building their image and delivering on their unwritten promises.

Here’s the flaw in social media influence:

@<Name Influential Person Here> <Company> really screwed me. Your thoughts?

Social media influence – by all calculations – doesn’t and can’t measure the fact that there are people who may be interested in helping another person with spreading the word about a cause (or their cause). There isn’t a set of social media tools, social media sites, or any other social media management apps that predict the future. If you find one – let me know.

So what’s a brand or business to do in social media?

Listen. Use humans and wherever possible tune out the noise (spam). I don’t care if you’re BP or any other hated brand. You have a duty to listen if you think you have a right to join the conversation.

Don’t get caught up in the influence of a content publisher beyond the scope of the watercooler. Everyone deserves remarkable service no matter how much influence they have. Otherwise if you disagree with that, publish who gets premium, white-glove support and who doesn’t within your profile. I doubt any brand would dare consider that.

Who really casts more influence? Because an influential person mentioned you doesn’t necessarily mean results will happen. They might only ask a question and the people you actually care about and support will defend you and share how they really feel about your company.

If you couldn’t tell already, I feel “social media influence” is complete bullshit. It’s a popularity contest over who can hustle more clicks. Are we in middle school? Who has more friends? Seriously?

Thank you, Fast Company, for confusing the big corporations and the decision makers about this topic. I would love nothing more than the folks at 4chan to make Moot the most influential person on the Internet and spell “JESSI SLAUGHTER” with all the other participants just to prove the lameness of that contest.

Your thoughts? Again, I’m not saying social media influence doesn’t exist – it does to a degree – but I feel it’s improper to use it in business decisions. Everyone is influential.