Friday, July 22, 2011

Project Social: What Is Influence?

I recently came across a couple of posts on social media that made me go, hmmn.

The first was about how to use LinkedIn to grow your social influence.  I made a mental note to read the post again in more detail and perhaps try out a few of the recommendations.

That's when I thought, hmmmn.  On the one hand, it makes total sense that the LinkedIn users who are the most active are also the ones who are most visible to peers, recruiters, hiring managers, etc.

On the other hand, unless your job involves using social media, your online presence is what is known as a hobby.  Remaining active and visible on multiple social media platforms requires a significant time investment, which either comes out of your personal life or your work life.

Or both.

Which made me wonder if spending more than an hour a day blogging, tweeting and 'liking' things really makes you more attractive to potential employers... if so, it's kind of ironic.

The other post that caught my eye was  a harsh dismissal of so-called 'experts,' accusing them of forming circles of adoration and  promoting each others' work in order to perpetuate the illusion that they have actual expertise.

Naturally, having a network of connections that sycophantically share everything you say - as long as you return the favor - precludes any real expertise. 

Which brings me to Klout: brilliant, seductive, a bit scary.  You can log on and see your score immediately, along with a cool visual representation of your 'influence.'  You can compare your influence to others.  You can drive up the influence of your friends, hoping they will reciprocate. 

You may tell yourself you don't care but you can't help feeling compelled to take action when your score drops.  So you spend more time on social media. Or you give Klout access to all your other social media platforms and now they OWN YOU.

What is influence, anyway?  These days it seems to mean getting people to click a button on your behalf, which sounds lame but actually makes a kind of sense.  I mean, if you can't even get people to CLICK A BUTTON FOR YOU, you don't have much chance of getting them to hire you or buy your product.

That's why Dave Ryan, Lyn Hoyt and I decided to form our own 'circle of adoration' (really more of a triangle) to inflate our online influence.  Amazingly, as soon as Dave gave me a '+ K' my Klout score jumped 5 points without me getting any new knowledge or experience.  

(Of course, I've always been very influential.  People just didn't know it.)

What does all this mean?  First of all, it seems fairly clear that influence has more to do with popularity than expertise.  Of course, this doesn't mean that influential people lack expertise but it also doesn't mean that the people who influence you necessarily know what they're talking about.

I'll leave you with that thought but be sure to check out Dave's and Lyn's posts on this topic over at HR Official and The HR Bacon Hut, respectively.


  1. I have the hardest time with the analytic, algorithm, hard crunching numbers of the influential web. So much of it is spam, not real, no depth to content, no desire to build a relationship with the reader. Words crafted on a page or data entered into a profile can push influence upward without ever knowing if you are real, qualified or an expert. When google or klout can measure sincerity, maybe they will rule the world? In the meantime I will continue to support my circle of adoration because it makes me better in business. To hell with Klout. And if someone thinks we are running up our own numbers, they should follow our content and see why. Comment and tell us we are great or tell us to improve. Challenge our thoughts. Means you are real.

  2. I am offended to know that you don't think me sending you a K+ would raise your cloud. I am a Czar! I have the power.

    Great post Laura - I don't know what influence is either. I do know you have influenced me in a very positive a way, and I enjoy our collaborative effort - whether or not it give me Klout.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...