Our Love / Hate Relationship with Measuring Influence
Many brilliant people have weighed in on the issues of Measuring Social Media Influence. You can read some of Jure Klepic’s posts such as “Once upon a time, I Believed in the Fairytale of Klout” or Sam Fiorella’s “I’m taking back my influence, I’m opting out of Klout” or for a deeper dive, please read Mark Schaefer’s book “Return On Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing“.
There are many difficult and troubling issues with measuring influence. The biggest problems have to do with context, subjectivity, and the lack of agreed upon standards. However, from what I see we all seem to have a love / hate relationship with influence measurement.
Of course we love it when we score high on “Influence”
I’ll admit it. When I get messages such as I’m Top Kred Elite it feels good. Especially since I think Kred has a better overall system than Klout. And I was saying this even when my Klout score was much higher than it is right now. It is basic human nature that I’ll play up the virtues of Kred since I’m “Elite” on their system and just spectacular on Klout’s. If I’m simply looking for an ego boost I could easily point to my status as #44 of the Top 100 Social Media Influencers in Social Media or Jeannette Marshall’s article declaring me “The Godfather of Social Media“. Yes, it all feels good, but is there a point to it?
Social Media scoring and Influence Measurements are here to stay
If you had any lingering hope that services such as Klout would just go away? Not going to happen. We are just starting to see the emergence of these type of systems because they are important. Yes, I said it, they are important. As imperfect and next to impossible as they almost always will have to be, we need them. Well, I need them. Anyone who is in business needs them for a wide variety of reasons well beyond sales and marketing. We need someway to sort through the Quadrillions of Social Interactions and focus in on people we might want to engage. We could engage them for market research, customer service surveys, recruiting, sales prospecting, influencer campaigns, or as news sources. There are an endless set of reasons we need to figure out ways to search and sort and find the right people. The numbers are just a guide. Please, use these systems as a filter or a lens, but bring some good judgement and experience to the table as well.
Even the NFL knows that people are not numbers
The NFL is touting commercials about their Scouting Combine in February with impressive shots of athletes being put through their paces. Every aspect of their performance is being measured, especially intangibles such as “heart” and “drive”. The numbers serve as a guide here but do not and cannot tell the full story. There are too many factors which must be judged and cannot be so precisely measured. Don’t get me wrong, the numbers help. The numbers can help with Social Media Influence as well, but even more judgement needs to be exercised.
Use Social Scoring Tools as a first cut only
My advice is simple. Pretend you are at a conference with a bunch of people you have never met. Your job is to meet the top 10 most influential people there. How would you do it? I might suggest you listen a lot. See who people are talking about. Then watch. Go to some cocktail parties and see who has the biggest crowds around them. Narrow down your list to a top 25 and then arrange quick meetings with them to assess what they are really all about. The good news is that you can sort through exponentially more people using a variety of social listening tools than you will ever be able to do IRL (in real life). You can scan them, scout them, ranks them, review them, and then reach out to them quickly and effectively. Just remember, they are people. Maybe you should play a little Tina Turner in the background to remind you what’s influence got to do with it anyway.