Influence is not a Mathematics Game

influence is not a mathematics gameInfluence in social media has become a hot topic lately. What is influence and how I can get my hands on measuring it? Sounds almost reasonable as all our lives we have had numbers equated to us – height, weight, siblings, test score, grade point average, goals, interviews, jobs, performance, salary, etc. It is almost never ending but there is one thing that is not measurable in mathematics – influence. Influence in social media or many other aspects is not about the numbers. If 20,000 people were subscribed to this blog would that make me influential? What if only 500 were reading it am I still influential?

The Wide Variety of Math

Math. There is so much to math. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, integers, formulas, algebra, geometry, theories – it is a lot but yet in social media we assign one number to influence – the most. Think about that. The most followers, readers, friends, connections is what so many aspire for as it gives them the power of being a number. Look at me, I have so many followers, fans, friends, connections. Ok, I am looking but how much are you letting us see past the numbers?

Influence Is From Within Our Community

Influence is from the relationships that we build within our community. What do the people that know you or are exposed to you on the social media profiles say about you? What stands out about you that makes them even think about you, visit your blog, tweet you on Twitter? What makes people literally stop what they are doing to make YOU their focus?

Interesting as when we think of it that way, we have to think that you have made an impact upon them that we cannot assign a number to. How can we assign a number to influence if it is scaled by each person and how they have accepted you into their lives by making you their focus?

Influence is Not A Mathematics Game

I get a bit fired up when people talk about growing my follower, friends and blog traffic. I see it differently as if you judge me by my followers, connections or perceived friends then sorry not to be harsh but move on, not much else to see here. I do not necessarily care about the numbers of followers, friends, connections, retweets, no, I care about the people. There is always a person behind each tweet, like, friend, blog, etc. that is not a number. I like to see the person, but, that is just me.

How Do We Build Influence?

We build influence by communicating. Transparency is a big word in the social media community. I agree that transparency is big but yet telling people what you think they want to hear is not necessarily being transparent. Some may disagree but being transparent is being you. The most stripped, down giving it all that you got, forgive me later (ok  maybe not that far) part of you that you never ever know that people may like. I am the very enthusiastic sports team fan, ok over zealous but that is the same way I am with work, friends and being at home and a mom. For some that is what they like about me (as seen on Aug 18th) but others not so much. Do I not influence them with my excitement and passion for what they are doing or what is going on in advertising and marketing? Absolutely I do not and that is ok because they are the ones who focus on the numbers.

Build influence by being a member of a community. Give them all you got as through sharing something that you think no-one is paying attention to, reaching out to people more than you check the traffic stats, retweets, etc. Think about those that you think about and put your focus on them as you can have all the mathematics but what happens where there is no-one to talk to?

What do you think? Is influence a paint by numbers?

photo credit: bubbo-tubbo

  • This post is right on point of a news article I saw the other day that was full of B.S. People in need to measure influence by numbers using various online tools (which I won’t mention or list) with the purpose of convincing people they have influence.

    In my opinion if you are influential you have no need to waist your time on most of these tools. The people that are interested in using your influence will know already.

    I agree with you no matter what mathematical formula you use their is no way of measuring influence with numbers when there are so many factors.

    I think I suffered the best example I had to move and was traveling. This caused me to get disconnected from the Internet, twitter, facebook, blogs, and other web related behavior I usually conduct and my visits and page views on my blogs and sites plummeted. I still have almost the same number of twitter followers, facebook friends, and other social virtual connections. But when I am offline how influential am I really.

    You can only influence when you are active and consistently sharing things that are still of interested to the people who follow you or count on you.

    Once again Suzanne great post.

    • Raul

      You bring up a very good point. For many, me included, when we are offline people forget about us. You are right, the traffic is in the toilet and our connections have carried on without us. It happens and I am not judging anyone for it but it really is a bite of reality when we talk influence. I think sometimes that we are only as good as our latest blog article, tweet or status update. It has been something I have been mulling around and will get to writing as it is real. If we stop posting, many many people will not be back. Some will look for us and reach out but most will not. So then the numbers of influence lie as if we followed our Klout score, then it would take a while for the traffic and the people to go away and that is not the case.

      Great comment here and hope all is well with you.

      • Isnt the real measure of connectedness/influence the number of folks who do try to follow up if one falls off the planet? If the influence is primarily based upon constant churn, and has little to zero long term connectivity… what sets such apart from the traveling snake oil salesman of old?

        • Ron

          Very interesting point and well said. Little to zero long term connectivity (I like that). You are right as what does set them apart? Shiny new tools? I see the real measure of influence is someone taking action based upon what you have said or done. I do not know how we can really put that into numbers per se despite people really trying so hard to do so. I think because we have been conditioned to put a number on almost everything that so many want to put a number on it.

          Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  • Suzanne,

    I really like how you addressed this topic. I think the conversation about influence is becoming much more active at the moment because more people are starting to discover measurement tools such as Klout.

    I would like to share a quote from Ken Blanchard which I think is so important to this conversation:

    “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

    I think this quote relates well because it shows that to be a success you don’t need to be an authority, you just need to have influence. Of course, as you mention in your post, what do we count as “being influential”.

    Personally, I think the web has broken the paradigm of “more, more, more” into a million pieces. That’s not what being influential is all about.

    • Exactly Josh. I liked the video that you did and am eager to see some responses (I will add the link below).

      Here is the thing, I can have influence 1 person and be influential. It is this notion that influence is only when you have hundreds of people that listen to you. I get so fired up about it as just because people are so caught up in how many followers as that would equate to all of them listening and of course your voice becomes louder and for sure you are top dog influencer. This is not to say that it does not happen but I mean the ones that really are influencing people are the ones that are doing something for the audience, that are guiding and leading and not ever paying attention to a number. Forget the numbers – get out there and do something to help someone grow, do something to make a change in someone’s life, watch, listen and learn.

      I do care about helping people so in turn that means that I do care about being an influencer (maybe? maybe not?). I am not about the masses or the numbers. I am about the people.

  • Great post! I personally appreciate, follow and trust those that share their heart and soul and not just the flavor of the month. Influence comes from the quality of your offering both offline and online – it’s those personal relationships that will matter in your success. I’d rather have 5 solid business relationships than 500 ghost followers.

    • I agree with you on the smaller solid relationships than the ghosts. The idea that more is better does not always ring true as more is numbers and numbers are the bottom line that people look at in sales but at the same time how can you get sales and repeat sales if you are not building relationships?

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I appreciate that.

    • Ah, I HATE ghost followers. I have periods when I get a massive batch of them following me on Twitter, so annoying. I want to connect with real people who offer real value, kind of hard when you have fake profiles following you.

      • I have lost count of my ghost followers. I get most annoyed by the auto dm’ers and also the folks who have 3-4 accounts and tweet the same stuff.

        We cannot rid ourselves of them so we can just try and do our best to ignore them.

  • I’m so glad you expanded this into a blog post. You are right on the money, your analogies are great, and now all of your readers can see your wisdom on this issue.

    Bravo, my friend 🙂

    Love the picture as well. Heehe!

    • Thanks Marjorie. You know I go nuts over this as I think that some are being steered down the wrong path as they are believing the hype that more is more. There are many that would challenge me on this as they would say that more followers exposes you to more people who could be buyers. Ok well what about the percentage that are not. Traditional advertising with TV and radio – it met the masses but did they all become your customers? Did any of them really listen to you? Nah, we as ad gals know better.

      What I really hope resonates with people from this post is that forget the math, and go and give people no other choice but to think of you. When you do that, you are setting the stage to be influential.

  • I agree with you to a point. Yes influence is all about you and the people to respond to you, it’s not just a numbers game. Huge numbers are arbitrary if nobody is interacting with you. I think smart marketers will all agree with that.

    The point of influence measurement tools like klout though aren’t about assigning you a score based on JUST the amount of followers you have. And if it’s used properly, it’s not at all masturbatory (though many don’t understand that either)

    Influence measurement tools (like klout) are meant to measure the amount of people who follow you, but then factor how many lists you’re on, how many different people interact with you, how many different people share your stuff, how far your reach is outside of your own net, and so on.

    This number isn’t easily gamed, and the higher scores aren’t easy to come by. If you have only 150 followers some might look down on that, but if all 150 of those people are constantly interacting with you and sharing your stuff, you’re far more influential than the person with 700 followers and only 30 or so people who interact on a regular basis (like me) or 100,000 people who follow you and 100 or so people who interact.

    To me, true influence means that as your fan base grows, your interaction rates grow too. If that isn’t happening, than you’re not really influential, you’re just a poser

    • Tommy

      Ok so Klout is “amount of, amount of, amount of, etc” it is all numbers that have measure the amont of times of X. So X people hit the retweet button. Yes that is great as they are sharing with their connections something that they liked but yeah and … Did anyone do anything? Did anyone add to the retweet with their thoughts? Klout is assigning a number based upon numbers. Does Klout know if anyone actually read the article?

      I do not necessarily have a big issue with Klout – I just find it a bit of a faulty measurement of influence.

      Well said that when your fan base grows your interaction grows. I like that,

      • In the end, I agree, interaction is all that matters. And yes klout measures the amount of, amount of, amount of. But the final number that is spit out is a result of an algorithm. If someone has a high amount of followers, but not a whole lot of different people interacting with them, their score goes down.

        But the way I use klout or any other measurement tool for that matter, is to gauge where other people are in relation to myself.

        I interact with people who are slightly above, and slightly below where I am in influence. Because those numbers give a quick glance at how valuable reaching out will be to me in the long run.

        Is any one score the end all be all?

        Not at all.

        Klout score is nothing if it doesn’t increase traffic to your website, and traffic to your website means nothing if it doesn’t convert into a buyer (if that is what your site is about) and if you’re not interacting with the people on your site, you’ll never know what products you should create for them, and therefore the whole cycle is thrown off.

        To me, influence scores are only a small factor in a much larger picture. I want to interact with and make friends (or enemies) with people who can give extra exposure. I agree that it is faulty in the respect that it doesn’t take into account website traffic, subscriber counts, or anything else that doesn’t have to do with twitter. But it is a good measurement to get a quick glance to see if a person is going to be worth your time to invest in a relationship with.

        But it’s no more the end all be all measurement that Google Pagerank is to see if a website is worth getting a link from. It’s a small part of a much bigger picture.

        • Tommy

          What I love about what you have said here is that you want to interact and make friends (or enemies) with people who can give extra exposure. You are honest and I appreciate that and look to others to be that honest. For me, yeah the bigger guys/gals are incredibly awesome and push a lot back to me but I really love to interact with the smaller guys/gals as they tend to be so much more as far as teachers and learners.

          • Small? I prefer the term “up and coming” ;-P

          • Tommy

            Well said. Small is not a good choice of words.

          • lol it’s all good. I still have a ways to go before I get to where I want to be. This is fun though, I don’t know why I haven’t interacted with you sooner 😉

          • Me either but I am glad that we are here and now. I am also a 3T member but have not been very active lately (been missing out I know). I will be sure to run over there too and catch up.

            Great blog by the way.

          • Thanks! I just came out with a Free report. You should check it out 🙂

  • Basically what you’re saying is that quality trumps quantity

    • I love the simplicity as generally I am the most simple but yet you definitely said it best. Write quality and also be quality in so much as who you are and influence will come.

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