Did you ever wonder just why you “friended” or “followed” that profile in social media? I mean, did you really ever fully realize the ways in which influence is leveraged? I’m not talking about Klout scores, nobody every heralded to me or anyone I know their 72 Klout score etc. (my own dropped to 61 of late). What I am talking about is real influence. Interested?
Before anyone can truly understand their own position in the digital-social space, they need to be able to define some terms in their simplest and most meaningful forms. Social metric aside, influence is:
“…the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.”
So, you’re already an influencer whether or not you have 10,000 Twitter followers or not. You see, there’s a lot more going on in social media influencing than measuring and assessing Klout scores and Facebook likes. While these metrics of “influence” or “power” are interesting and useful, the real lever in the social realm is more closely tied to charisma and truth. You didn’t want to hear that your 4,000 Facebook “votes” may not be as crucial as you figured, now did you?.
Time, Pressure, and Truth
Let’s take Klout and other big data set metrics services as our first example of symbolic indicators of influence. As Alexia Tsotsis encapsulates here, it’s very simple to glean why most people will never truly rely on such statistical convincing where true influence is concerned, and I quote from the TechCrunch article:
“Klout’s pervasive problem is that the deeper among us are never going to judge anyone based solely on some arbitrary decimal score.”
Now that we are at least focused on other possibilities for influence, let me reference a deft description of social media influence by noted social analytics scientist Michael Wu, Ph.D.. Michael Wu breaks down what influence “is” into six basic principles. I list these below, but for the sake of knowing what effects those you want to influence most, credibility is by far the most important. “Can I believe this person?” The answer to this question is really all there is to social media mastery. Before I oversimplify this for you, look at how Wu characterizes social media influence followed by a brief comment of my own.
Credibility – Wu defines this element as: “aninfluencer’s expertise in a specific domain of knowledge.” Expertise is but one credibility factor, but sufficient for the case.
Bandwidth – “The influencer’s ability to transmit his expert knowledge through a social media channel.” Is Spamming a component of bandwidth? You bet it is. But I think Wu means “Resonance”.
Relevance – “How closely the target’s information needs coincide with the influencer’s expertise. If the information provided by the influencer is not relevant, then it is just spam to the target and will be ignored.” Here we can further simplify Wu’s own simplified “influence” model by combining Bandwidth (or reach) with Relevance. Let’s call this new hyper-term “Resonance” perhaps.
Timing – “The ability of the influencer to deliver his expert knowledge to the target at the time when the target needed it.” Timing is yet another component of relevance, as in what’s relevant to any target at a given time.
Alignment – “(the right place): The amount of channel overlap between the target and the influencer. If the target is on a different social media channel, then the influencer’s information either take too long or never reach the target.” More Resonance.
Confidence – (the right person): How much the target trusts the influencer with respect to his information needs. Even if the influencer is credible, the target must have confidence in him. Without trust, any information from the influencer will be downgraded by the target. Combine into Credibility, what are we, paramecium?
Wu’s simplification of quite complicated concepts can actually be narrowed further. Credibility and resonance then, are the only two things you need to understand about powerful social media influencing. This is not to suggest metrics tools are any less useful, it’s just that being liked, being charismatic, being able to convince others cannot so easily be boxed and numerically stamped.
A HIT Story
We are in the business of public relations. You know, the big brother (sometimes misunderstood) of marketing and advertising. PR then, is all about storytelling. The astute among you will have already wised up to the reality that all of these metrics and scientific jargon are just “part” of a story.
Your story, isn’t that what you want those you influence to know? Here is who I am. I am here to do this. This is how you come in. Hey, that spells HIT. Now there’s a simplified strategy anybody can use to influence people and make money, etc.
So how do you become a HIT? I have been reading a book entitled; “The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling”, by award winning author Annette Simmons. The first and foremost lesson this bestseller points to where influence and the connection to storytelling is concerned is Trust. As the author so aptly puts it; “People don’t want more information, they are up to their eyeballs in information.”
Finally, please understand, there is a huge difference in between getting people to do what YOU want them to, and actually influencing to really adopt your suggestions. After all, would you continue to be friends or buy products from anyone who you found “manipulating” you? What about a business or person who’s ideas or products you “believe in” because they’re true? This is how true social media influencers garner so called “ROI”, or the return on their investment in time.
Now that we have characterized to distinct areas of being influential; statistical visibility (let’s say) and selling self, it should benefit us all to become better at telling our stories – statistical and otherwise.
To be a HIT in social media land, tell people who you are, convince them your are trustworthy, let them know why you connected with them, and “resonate” a continually “credible” connection with them. That’s all.