The Meaning of Social Media Influence

Over the next few months (every two weeks on Fridays), guest blogger, Raymond Morin will explain the importance of establishing a degree of web influence and the key analysis tools. Through best practices as demonstrated by the top experts in field, readers will learn how to become an influencer on social media.

Please Note: This post is a translated excerpt from the book, “Comment devenir un influenceur dans les médias sociaux” by Raymond Morin. The book is scheduled to be published in Winter 2012, in collaboration with Intelegia and Ian Smith).

The Tools To Measure InfluenceA Wrong Debate

In the era of social media, the crucial question for professionals and entrepreneurs is not whether they should embrace the Web 2.0 environment, but in what ways they can take the opportunity to enhance their brand. Due to the great amount of competition that already appears on the Web, everyone is looking how to stand out from the clutter and noise. The question of influence and impact of digital identities is becoming a key success factor for those who are on social networks.

The notion of influence on the Web continues to raise a lot of feedback and still raises some controversy among Web professionals. For some months now, new social platforms, like Klout, PeerIndex, Empire Avenue and other applications that measures levels influence based on algorithms are being placed online. Although they cite various shortcomings, most observers recognize the potential of these tools in a context of personal branding on social media.

As mentioned by Mark Schaefer, in an interview with the Brazilian science magazine, Galileu, The Evolution of Social Media Power and Influence, the extent of influence on the Web is still in its infancy. Startups like Klout find themselves in “the silent film era” of applications and require time to develop their respective tools.

Popularity With Users

The notion of influence on the Web has made its way to users and businesses.

In the United States:

  • Some luxury hotels are now reserving their best suites to clients based on the highest scores of influence
  • Many universities and recruitment agencies now scan the social profile of new candidates, starting with their degree of influence on the Web and social media
  • For professionals or businesses seeking new customers or new clients through social media, the issue of influence is becoming an important factor

In France, since Minute Buzz published the Top 100 most influential people on social media, Klout quickly became extremely popular with users.

In November 2010, I published my first ranking of Klout influencers of the Web in Quebec. From the results, I received a very enthusiastic response however; I obtained some very harsh criticism. The debate around the question of influence is still a sensitive subject.

Like it or not, the notion of influence on social media will remain the center of the debate amongst professionals and businesses on the Web. Similar to many industries, such as media, film, books and music, which were built on the basis of lists and charts, social media is in turn a part of this trend. Magazines such as Billboard and Rolling Stones have become multinational publishers of charts analyzing sales and distribution. The growing popularity of measurement tools such as Klout and PeerIndex, which already receives tens of millions of regular visits, demonstrates that this approach responds to the need of users.

Why Measure The Influence On The Web?

The concept of influence itself will always remain subjective and difficult to identify. The real influence of an individual on the community approach is more qualitative than quantitative, and cannot rely solely on an assessment calculated based on its sole online business. Several circumstantial factors, such as media exposure, personal relationships and financial resources may increase or decrease the odds of influence of an individual or a company. There will always be a close relationship between the level of influence and the actual influence exerted on his or her audience.

Like many observers, I do not think any mathematical algorithm, as sophisticated or powerful as it is, may one day determine precisely, without a shadow of a doubt, the true level of influence of an individual. New platforms like Klout, PeerIndex, Empire Avenue and Crowdbooster (to name only the most popular) offer a number of benefits for professionals. Despite their shortcomings, they nevertheless prove that tools for measuring a level of personal branding and digital identity.

Competitive companies, brands and the consumer must be able to compare the value of the product (or service) to make their choice. Until the advent of these measurement tools, recommendations were the results of peer-to-peer networks. In the wake of Klout, PeerIndex and Empire Avenue, users can count on a good thirty measurement tools to identify and track the influencers on social media.

For businesses and professionals who monetize their presence through social networking, these new applications, even if they are incomplete, are at a historic turning point. They are quickly becoming essential tools for personal branding and digital identity for entrepreneurs and business leaders. The tools success will depend on the weight and balance they will strike struck between the level of influence and the real influence of professionals. Klout, as in PeerIndex and Empire Avenue assures us that their tools work.

Do you agree? What do you think?

Share your thoughts and comments on the subject.

Next post: Empire Avenue – The stock market of social media

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Source: Paul Labelle, Photographer


Author of the books, “Culture Web à la portée des PME” and “Comment entreprendre le virage 2.0” Raymond Morin has written for several magazines over the past 10 years. Very active on social media, he has contributed to several online publications as guest blogger, including Trinity College School, Locita, and Intelegia. Raymond is a corporate trainer and is regularly invited to give lectures and training workshops to companies and organizations. In collaboration with Intelegia, and Ian Smith, Raymond is preparing for the release of a new book, “Comment devenir un influenceur dans les médias sociaux”