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Influence is Much More than a Klout Score

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“The very man who has argued you down, will be sometimes be found, years later, to have been influenced by what you said.” — C.S. Lewis

Over the last few years, people have been measuring their influence on-line by using tools such as Klout (http://klout.com/) , TweetLevelhttp://tweetlevel.edelman.com/), Twitter Analyzer http://www.twitteranalyzer.com/, and PeerIndex (http://www.peerindex.net/), amongst other popular applications and services.

From a pure measurement and analytic perspective these tools can certainly help people instantly measure their on-line popularity, engagement, and trust with their audience.

According to Klout, the most popular standard of measurement influence on-line, my score on Twitter is a respectable 54. They define me as a specialist. Klout states that I “may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly engaged audience.”

Another one of my favorites is TweetLevel, a tool developed by an AR colleague of mine, Jonny Bentwood ( http://twitter.com/#!/JonnyBentwood).  This beta tool  helps “understand and quantify the varying importance of different people’s usage of Twitter.”

This leads me to my central question:  do on-line influence and measurement tools singularly define your true influence on Twitter?  Case in point: I have seen people amass thousands of friends on Facebook and connections on LinkedIn.  Does this “social media collector” exercise make these types of people instant influential rock stars? Are they truly engaging with their social community to move their trust index up NOT just their popularity.

I’m here to state that to be truly influential in your social media community you need to arm yourself with an arsenal of techniques and engagement methods to connect and greatly effect your audience.

Here are some of the popular methods I use and recommend as ways to influence and connect with your audience:

1) Connect, connect, connect.   Social media is just one technique to effect your audience and have them hang onto your every word.  IRL or “In Real Life” conversations take your relationship with someone — be it personal or professional — to the next level.  In my experience, people tend to hide behind a contrived persona on social media.  IRL their true self comes out and your audience truly appreciates that.

In my job, which coincidentally is an influencer marketing role, I use a three-pronged method of influence — social media engagement, phone/E-mail engagement and IRL face-to-face conversations and interactions during road tours, trade shows, and on-site visits.

Why is this important?  It helps me enhance my relationships with my community by developing a “deeper” level of trust, respect and friendship.

2) Listen, Listen and Listen Some More. How often do you find yourself “talking at” people on Twitter, LinkedIn, or some other social media channel?  Everyone thinks their invincible on the Internet but nobody wants to engage with a super egomaniac.  Nevertheless, you probably want to crow about your company’s success and accomplishments through the social media airwaves.

But do you go out of your way to publish or re-tweet a post from someone you are following on Twitter or a key connection on LinkedIn?

In my job, I’m constantly monitoring and listening to conversations to find out where the technology industry is going.   More often than not, I influence key relationships by sending key contacts Twitter Direct Messages, then setting up phone and face-to-face meetings later on.

3) Don’t Try to Be Mr. or Mrs.  Popular.   Influence is NOT a popularity contest.  You are not measured by the number of followers, friends and connections you have.  Influence is the power of what you say and how you interact with your “engaged” audience.

Early on in the social media game I was constantly comparing myself to the celebrities, sports stars and social media advocates who attained a magical number of tens of thousands of followers.   Like Klout said, I’m a specialist in my area and I know how to engage and target my audience with specific hot topics and content.

While I like sports and other hobbies, I’m not going engage my audience with nebulous tweets about these subject areas since I’m specifically not a specialist.  I try to engage my audience on what I know well: social media, analyst relations, public relations, technology, and other marketing-related subjects.

4) Taking Things Personally Will Only Lessen Your Influence.   I have noticed this trend in the social media world running rampant.  For example, someone opens up a Facebook or Twitter account and comments and tweets to the world everything he or she is thinking.  I have been guilty of this philosophy and mantra before.  I used to think the more tweets I composed and sent and the number of times I commented on a Facebook post would spread my influence.  Oh contraire! People want to engage with people who listen, who interact and don’t have a personal agenda at hand.

You may also be asking “how does influence on-the-job affect my company’s brand and image?”  In my specific role of influencer marketing, I’m constantly listening to the opinions and suggestions of analysts and consultants.  Sometimes this feedback is critical and sometimes it’s not music to my company’s ears.

Bottom line: I try to win friends and influence people by helping my internal stakeholders understand why a message and strategy may not be properly aligned to market conditions.  And you know what?  My external audience appreciates that their suggestions and opinions are considered and evaluated.  This is key influencer relations from an inside/out perspective.

Are you going beyond your standard online measurement tools like Klout, TweetLevel, PeerIndex, and Twitter Analyzer to truly influence your target audience — your followers, friends and connections?

I would love to hear your thoughts…

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