Trust and influence in social media

There's been a lot of talk recently about influence. Recently Fast Company's Influence Project sparked massive amounts of debate on the subject of influence.

Trust is key to influence

Trust comes with rules, predefined levels of acceptance that will change the relationship if either party breaks the rules. If that trust is broken it's very difficult to regain. Think think of the types of people you don't trust. Immediately politicians, car salesman are what jump to my mind as the archetypes. All of which seem to break promises to me to create a gain for themselves. You will have your own thoughts I'm sure. Interestingly enough these archetypes have a huge influence in our everyday lives. They run our governments and sell us products to keep our families safe on the road.

Think about a relationship you have. It could be a partner, spouse, friend, parent, child or colleague, it doesn't matter.

I think of my wife. I trust her and she trusts me, implicitly. Both of us have continued friendships with people from previous relationship. It's not a problem, we have trust. The influence we have with other each other is directly related to that trust. If one of us had ever acted outside the rules of our trust the influence would have vanished.

When the rules of trust are broken they shift into reverse.

Any influence a person or brand had over my thoughts flips in my head. I start my assessment from the opposite view and work towards the message rather than starting with an assumption of truth and then analyzing. It's much harder to get someone to change their mind to a positive once the trust is broken.

Fast Company broke the trust for many when they launched the Influence Project. It wasn't necessarily the fact that they tried to find the most influential people in social media or even that the method of measurement was flawed. It was the link bait and the smoke  and mirrors they employed and encouraged for a simple popularity contest.

Did it prove a point? Yes, trust is fragile, Fast company lost some trust with this project and a few participants lost some trust with their followers too. A small dent maybe, but a dent is a dent when that car salesman is trying to sell you a car.