My Klout profile has a list of people who influence me. It includes some friends and also some recognized"influencers" like Brian Solis and Tim O'Reilly. Avinash Kaushik is also in the list. If you don't know Avinash he published Web Analytics 2.0, works for Google as their Analytics Evangelist and publishes a pretty popular blog Occam's Razor. But wait, something's wrong…my Klout score is more than double Avinash's. If you consider Avinash is a Googler and published author he surely has more"Klout" than I do.
I think everyone would admit that influence and sentiment is difficult to measure. That said, there's something fundamentally wrong with how we are defining influencers. We're relying too much on automated algorithms. Adrian Pelzer recently created a bot that tweeted computer generated quotes every minute and achieved a Klout score of 51 within 80 days. Read the article but please take note of the comment by Joe Fernandez one of the co-founders of Klout who has a great response to the test. I like Klout and what they are trying to do, but it's a difficult task.
Influencers are those people that have the largest direct impact on a group of people. By definition influence is a force that can affect the actions of others. Influencers are change agents, they share ideas and move people.
With the explosion of social media the walls are down and the"markets" for influence are global. Influence is closely aligned with trust and without it the opportunity to forge long term relationships (business and personal) are greatly reduced. Trust is earned, and that's more important than ever for businesses today.
I don't believe influence should be measured solely on reach, or the likelihood that content is going to be shared as I don't trust that information is always relevant. What should it be measured by, or can it even be measured? If measurement is important it should always be tied to context.
In the last few weeks we've seen Quora completely take off, I am getting daily emails alerting me to new people that are following me. At a basic level Quora is a simple question and answer site, but it's more than that. The openness of twitter and social media in general have allowed people to connect and interact with"big names" with greater ease. These big names may not be recognizable to the much of the general public but when you bring it down to niche markets and topics as Quora does the access to these people is astounding. It allows me to trust the people I am connecting with by allowing them to demonstrate their knowledge, there's no smoke and mirrors…well maybe some, there's always Google for research.
It's becoming a repository of knowledge and by doing so is shifting the balance away from purely numbers.
What seems to be missing in this race to define influence is the importance of relevance. Shel Israel recently posted an excellent article on"The Importance of Measuring Relevance". I encourage you to read it (when you've finished this one).
So how do we look at all this information and give it value. What makes a tweet, or an answer to a question relevant to me? What's important about these relationships and shared knowledge we are creating and can we measure it's value?
** **Influential people online and offline have a common trait, they move ideas into action. Once an idea is in the action phase if it resonates with the right people it will likely have an impact. The impact may be as small as a new way of preparing a common dinner dish, or it could change the world. The principal is the same, the movement from idea, through action resulting in impact changes behaviors. Think of the people who change the world, it always happens at the intersection of smart thinking, smart action and smart impact. For examples of this in action check out some TED talks. The world changing ideas are those where the end result is one having a smart impact on society.
Can this be translated to a system where people are able to get the best value from their connections? We're tackling these issues at smartagious.com by creating a smarter network that allows people to spread brilliance, yes there's a score but if you want to game it feel free it's going to have an impact in your chosen niche or community. We hope it's going to be a world changer!
The algorithm that drives the smart score is not calculated solely on actions you take online it's curated via your relationships and how you have shared your knowledge to create impact. Smartagious knows the value of trust so we've created trusted connections. These are your most valued relationships that are having a smart impact.
You don't need to be Mother Teresa or Brian Solis to be an influencer. You can focus on becoming a valuable connection by asking yourself these questions.
Travis Sheridan introduces Smartagious