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What Does Influence Mean in Social Media

Success with social media is not easily attainable without a certain level of influence. In terms of advertising, influence with consumers on a personal level as well as developing influential relationships are incredibly useful. Word of mouth advertising has always been an influential form of communication, and with the progress in technology, marketers are finding new ways to get mileage out of it.  As Ben Popper explains, “It’s not just the sheer number of followers a person has, an easy metric to inflate. What really matters is how far across the echo chamber of the internet your voice can carry, and whether your audience trusts what you say.”

One of the problems many organizations face with social media marketing is a way to quantify and measure the success of their efforts. Certain discussions and sharing are now easier to track than ever; however, connecting these digital interactions to real world purchasing decisions has not yet been perfected. What Does Influence Mean in Social Media image KloutLogo

In light of these issues some new technologies have appeared to help deal with the problem of influence – which users have it, where to spend the most time attaining it, etc. Many new companies like Klout are attempting to put a number on influence for marketers to measure up with one another, as well as measure their users. The point is to measure how many people you influence and on what topics specifically your opinion holds the most weight.

Although the work these companies have done is impressive, there are still a number of issues to be worked out. People regularly complain that Klout does not accurately depict a person’s range of influence often citing industries and fields that are unrelated. Another issue is the inflation of influence ‘score’ that is possible, and more annoyingly the self-promotion that certain people take part in to increase their score. How trust worthy is this information if people can increase their score through non-influential content?

For social media marketers, there is a certain love/hate relationship with these metrics. On the one hand the information can prove to be incredibly valuable when running campaigns. Pinpointing the correct target audience for a campaign takes a lot of time and research that is significantly cut down by knowing who the “top influencers” are (taking into account the potential inaccuracies). Furthermore, marketers can narrow down their target in general based on the fields of influence of their users and develop better content for them.

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The other side of the coin seems to combat some of the fundamental points of social networks. Genuine and organic relationships are an integral part of success for social media campaigns, as well as the opportunity to connect with all consumers. By targeting, or placing a higher value, on certain social media users this two-sided engagement begins to develop certain restrictions.

According to CEO and Founder of Klout Joe Fernandez, the score should not be taken at face value, “People get hung up on the number, but we are also giving people a lot of context around your passions and areas of expertise. I think we’re still just at the tip of the iceberg.” It is not as much the data as the ability to generate insights to inform the overal social media marketing strategy of a company. If this is kept in mind in the future, the availability of this information will hopefully be a positive step for users and marketers.

Sources: The Verge  

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