Reality of Influence

Influence appears to be one of the topics of 2011. As Klout secures an additional $8.5 million in funding means that enhanced metrics are sure to follow. But what does influence really mean?

Klout provides a fairly detailed overview of how they measure influence which is a starting block for this new metric. While measuring influence is still in its infancy, but rapidly developing, what does this mean for you?

When you login to Klout for the first time, connect all of your social networks and click the “measure” button you wait eagerly for the results. Logically, it will lead to three emotional reactions:

-1-     Happiness

-2-     Disappointment

-3-     Who Cares



“Yes, my score puts me as one of the most influential people in the online social webs!”

This might be the reaction of someone seeing a top score return. This is a metric you would expect to see from a Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Seth Godin or another of the like. This will be someone who has 5-figures of followers and is viewed as a leader in their space.

Others will get to this status as well depending on their personal or business niche. Is it possible to get to this level without thousands of followers? Sure. But it helps to be followed by people with thousands of followers too.



“I really thought I would score better than a 36.”

What if you have 300 followers on Twitter that you are really active connecting? This score may return lower than someone who has thousands of followers and but is re-messaged less than you. You could argue over more influence but you network numbers may not compete.

An interesting question may arise, would a negative or lower-than-expected score impact how you use social media going forward?



“But what does it really mean.”

Brian Solis wrote an interesting piece last year regarding the Influence Project put on by Fast Company. The post basically said influence is not popularity… which ironically was the name of the article.

This group might find the results interesting either way but not put much stock in the numbers, it’s too early to truly tell what this means.

Personally, I find myself in the “Interesting” group. I believe Klout – or similar metrics – are on the right path but not to a particular accepted standard. I am skeptical over influence. Damien Basile wrote an excellent guest post on the subject on not confusing influence and popularity.

What if a friend/follower reads something I post and does not repost, comment or retweet? I may have influenced someone but because it was not shared further it hurts my number? Also, if I do not connect all of my networks it will impact my overall score. There are still too many variables to consider for this to be a truly accurate measuring tool.

Influencing metrics is currently subjective, no matter what science and math you wish to put behind it. In time it will become more accurate and grow into something robust but it still needs time and adjusting.

I do use Klout but as a snapshot in time for me. Using it fairly regularly it could provide trends and analysis to my network and how I connect with my friends/followers. But I do not put more recognition into this tool than that.

Please share your feelings on Klout or other metrics tools, I am very interested in hearing your impressions on the metrics of social influence.



Photo credit to BplusD and Servant of Chaos.


Twifficiency Does More Than Intended

Wow, to be a 17 year-old from Scotland and create a Twitter trend instantaneously is quite a feat, but was definitely more than intended.  John Cunningham’s launch of Twifficiency was loud and effective.

Although John set out with a set parameter to measure Twitter users and how “effectively” they use Twitter, I believe John struck a larger chord on Twitter.  Not only were there positive conversations, but some people were a bit annoyed at the buzz this created.

People want to believe they use Twitter the “right way” and are effective in how they implement it each and every day.  Twitter became a funnel of how you should measure your Twitter effectiveness and that numbers do not mean everything.  Justifications came out of almost everywhere and it was interesting to read what opinions people shared on the subject.

I believe that in the midst of all of this, Twifficiency hit on something.  Although the metrics are not perfect, the idea behind measuring Following, Followers, Tweets, @ Reply’s and Lists can provide some value.

My score was 49% and yes it bothered me at first.  I wanted to justify why it was average and not higher.  But once I thought about this, metrics are just that – a measuring tool.  I do not post 50 microblog posts per day, I read a lot of Tweets, I click on a lot of links, I respond when I feel necessary, and I make good connections within my network.  Isn’t’ that what we should be doing anyway?

Some tools are better than others and some metrics are better than others.  But a 17 year-old computer entrepreneur launched something that got people interested and talking.  Kudos to Mr. Cunningham for keeping the rest of us thinking about what we do and why we do it.

Recruitment Social Media ROI

ROI has been defined in certain social media circles as:

  • Return on Investment
  • Risk of Ignoring

While both of these are right on, most companies and “experts” are having difficulty trying to identify exactly how to measure the ROI of social media.  My response is that it depends on each company, business, person and industry.

Potential metrics to consider based upon each particular social media site:

  • Number of followers
  • Number of fans
  • Number of retweets
  • Number of group members
  • Number of direct messages
  • Number of mentions
  • Number of hashtags (#) – are you trending
  • Comment activity on blogs

In social media, this is more subjective than not.  For example, number of followers or number of fans does not mean that they necessarily read everything you put forward.  Maybe a person chooses to follow you and then moves on.  Maybe a “bot” follows you, doesn’t mean that account is a targeted account.  Quality is key and it is difficult to maintain and track.

For recruiting, the ability to track how and were applicants came from by tracking how/where they clicked a particular link.

In order for social media to really be effective in recruiting, it is all about the people.  Is your recruiting team active?  Are the recruiters driving conversation?  Are recruiters attracting and finding talent?  These are areas that each recruiter may track in the ATS system but also to determine what sites are used by those in that particular job field.

From the book Groundswell, use the POST method (People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology).  By following these areas, each company/person may best define ROI based upon the demographics of their job audience.

How are you setting up metrics in social media?  Are you setting up metrics?