Lately, I’ve been reconsidering who I think are influencers in and on my business. There are those who you follow and hang on every word and there are those you watch from afar with admiration but caution.

Who we let influence us, both professionally and personally, says a lot about who we are. Are you easily swayed or does it take some research and work?

About a year and a half ago I wrote about how to measure someone’s social influence. In that article, I listed 10 ways to measure someone’s influence –

1. Number of Facebook fans
2. Number of Subscribers on Facebook
3. Number of Twitter followers
4. LinkedIn Endorsements & Recommendations
5. Look at engagement levels on their social media platforms
6. Google Them
7. Look at their Klout Score
8. Look at their Kred Score
9. Look at their PeerIndex Score
10. Go with your gut

Wow – I can’t believe I actually used to subscribe to all of that! As time goes on and we evolve professionally, our opinions change, and for me, how I now define social influence has changed as well.

To me, defining social influence takes more into account than numbers. Yes, numbers to play a part, but numbers can be deceiving. People buy fans, buy article placements, buy their way onto influencer lists. You have to take it all with a grain of salt and look at a larger picture.

Social Media Influence is seen as the influence one has over others when it comes to social media strategy and marketing. You see the same names pop up on all of the lists – Mari Smith, Neal Schaffer, Jeff Bullas, Gary Vaynerchuk, Mark Schaefer, to name a few. How did these guys end up as influencers? Well, first of all, it took time and energy. I don’t think any of them set out to be a big-name influencer (well, they may have, but they won’t admit it) however through their work, they now are.

Defining social influence incorporates more than numbers. For me, it’s based more on QUALITY over quantity. I could care less if you have 200,000 Twitter followers if you are not engaging with people and providing quality content. I would respect you more if you had 50,000 and was actively talking with your community and showing your true personality. Influence is about quality. Quality of content. Quality of conversation. Quality of who you are online. Let’s face it folks, thanks to social media MANY people have disguised themselves as people they are not. You shouldn’t have to peel back the layers to see who they really are.

So how am I defining social influence these days?

1. Quality over quantity.

What types of conversation are you having? Are you responding to comments, actually taking an interest in your community?

2. You face the bad with the good.

If you are truly a person of influence, you will have active critics. I see some social media “experts” run and hide when criticized and use vague Facebook statuses on their personal profile to get sympathy from their fans. True story – that happened to me. I constructively criticized something a so-called expert was doing. She did not respond to me directly, but through two vague Facebook statuses that directly referred to my critique. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

3. What others say about them.

I will Google them. I will look at their LinkedIn Recommendations. I want to see what other people are saying. If the masses are saying the same thing, then that gives you a pretty idea about the person.

4. Their following.

Yes, numbers do play a small part, but genuine influencers will have more than 100 people following them on any given social media platform.

5. What my intuition says.

Our gut feelings are hardly wrong. If you get the heebie-jeebies from or about them, run.

How do YOU define social influence? Everyone has their own way and no one way is right or wrong.

If you have someone who influences you in a big way, please share! I’d love to check them out :)