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Is Social Influence The Truth Or A Myth?

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Influence is real. Both online and offline, it surrounds us every day, but is it really valuable in the virtual world, or just a load of rubbish?Klout Peerindex and Kred Logos

Those geeky people at Klout, Peerindex and Kred all try to make magic potions to measure influence. They write complex algorithms to analyse your presence online, but can we really trust the results?

The theory adds up, doesn’t it? If Justin Bieber can tweet to nearly 24 million people and ask them to check out his new fashion range (I have no idea if he has one by the way), then he has influence?

He has nearly 45 million likes on his Facebook page, and if just 10% of those share his latest and greatest product, then I can only just imagine his global reach.  Hell, I even read an article saying that he’s the first person to reach a million followers on Instagram. Where does it stop?  It can’t be a huge surprise that Klout give him the perfect score.

Influence is everywhere

Socially Influential peopleInfluence doesn’t stop there either. Let’s take those wonderful people at Google and Bing. They are personalizing your search results. In their own way, surely that’s influence as well? If you think Facebook are innocent, you’re wrong there too. They give you the updates that they think you want to see, so the online influence can be seen in many different places.

Broadcasters, journalists and even Social Media professionals can all reach a large audience at the click of a “tweet”, “save” or a “share”. They all have large numbers of followers, and they can instantly reach people who are interested, people who are always listening, and people who are ready to share. There’s a strong chance that it they give a positive view on something, they can have impact; they truly do have influence.

So, we all agree then? Well, no actually, and this is the point of my post.

The economic beast that is the internet

The internet can make us rich; and it does for many people. In a world where top places in the search results mean big $$$$, a world where affiliates give us nice little back-handers for placing their ads all over our websites and blogs, it means that the more we are seen, the more we are paid.

To get around this, professionals and amateurs alike are using social media to try to spread the word and become influential. The more Facebook friends you have, the better. The more followers you have, the chances of making a quick buck are increased. The more networks you have, the more people like Klout suggest you have influence.

Nobody is listening!

Nobody is listeningWhether you like it or not, you can buy friends and followers on networks such as Facebook and Twitter just to increase your reach and marketing clout (that’s with a C), and whether you agree or not, this does affect your influential reach with Klout etc. (with a K). Just because you have 100,000 followers, it doesn’t mean you are influential. Getting 200 likes for every Facebook post you make doesn’t mean you’re influential either, and this is where the system falls down. It’s quite likely that nobody is actually listening!

What’s that? Why not measure the downstream activity then? Well, people like Klout are trying to do that, but marketeers aren’t stupid. They create groups of profiles to like, share, retweet and follow, and this is all for available to purchase should you feel inclined to do so. There are teams of people making virtual worlds to cloud over the fact that the system is being manipulated.

So, what does it all mean then?

Well, in my opinion, influence exists everywhere, but so do the spammers, scammers and marketeers too. For every genuine influencer, there’s one that’s manipulating the system, and this is where the waters get muddy. Klout and Peerindex can throw as many complex and sexy algorithms at it as they like, but it’s impossible to see the woods through the trees. For every new computer program to spot a scam, another is written to bypass it and circumvent the problem.

It’s just the price we pay in today’s society. The economic value of the Internet means that it will be impossible to get away from.

Social influence is definitely true, but it’s also myth at the same time…..

 

About Adrian Britton

Sometimes I will talk about things that are interesting, and sometimes I won’t. Sometimes it will be a bit of a laugh, and sometimes it will just be a downright rant about something going on in the world – I’m often accused at moaning a lot, and I consider myself quite good at it !!

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