Synthesizing Influence in the Socialsphere

Is an “Influencer” All That?

In September 2010, I was involved in a round table discussion that took place on the topic of “social influence” and  the implications companies like Klout which created a proprietary algorithm for determining an individual’s social influence – would  have on the social mechanisms we were witnessing. The “influencers” as they were called who scored high on the algorithm were then selected (and still are) for the 5 Star Touch at establishments utilizing Klout scoring to get a foot up in the social-sphere. The author of the following article at Advertising Age:

Why Influencer Marketing Isnt About the Influencers  DigitalNext: A Blog on Emerging Media and Technology – Advertising Age.

Engages some of the important concern’s that were voiced during those discussions in 2010. Although our  discussion focused primarily on concern’s in the digital marketing space over tampering with a not yet understood social phenomenon and things we have learned from science like the Hawthorne effect where observation alters behavior and the conflicting interest and ‘intent” for gain were all valid points brought to the table.Those of us at that discussion might have prophetically voiced then what appears to now have some focused attention on it almost two years later.

The author at Ad Age nails it with respect to the “organic nature of social circles” and “trust mechanism’s” in relationships to better understand how influence works which we posited as dangerous ground in terms of opening the door or “Pandora’s Box” for those seeking to tamper and exploit. No one I know believes Klout promotes ill-intent, but like much that is discovered with dire consequences, we get so caught up with what we can do – we forget to think through whether we should. It will be interesting and hopefully beneficial to us in the marketing world.

Understanding complex consumer behavior in the social sphere, like in scientific discovery, should be observed and documented with the same sense of respect and awe (less tampering and manipulation for self benefit) as the highest priority. Only then can we assign a genuine “relationship value” to it. There is a form of purity in observation when the intent is to understand and not….well…influence. What determines social behavior lives well beyond anecdotal advice columns about influencer marketing. While some may be coaching on how to massage those relationships and best practices, which may have value, I would strongly encourage we “in the marketing universe” and those companies intent on utilizing Klout values center ourselves on the qualities inherent in those relationships. It is a free forming two-way consciousness, void of manipulation…at least the GENUINE ones.


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