How Do You Measure Influence?

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[Guest Post by Bernadette Jiwa]

My friend Lucy Buck saves the lives of abandoned babies and finds loving new homes for them if they cannot be reunited with their biological families. She founded the Childsi foundation and opened a babies home in Kampala, Uganda seven months ago. She’s active on Twitter, Facebook and You Tube.

Lucy has a Klout Score of 10. That’s 10 out of a possible 100. To put that into some kind of perspective Paris Hilton has a score of 83.

Technology has given us more ways to measure, more ways to work out our relevancy by numbers. Friends, fans, followers, badges, titles, comments, trackbacks, click-throughs, visits, views and subscribers all handy little benchmarks of our influence.

There is so much to gauge that you can get stuck perfecting the measuring part, so stuck that you forget to do the influencing part. While you’re busy keeping score are you missing the opportunity to understand what will make a real difference to you and to those you want to lead?

Maybe we’ve believed for too long that numbers are the only way to power influence and drive change, recent research using social media networks has started to question that thinking.

Professors Christakis and Fowler recently tried to measure the power of influence on Twitter with surprising results. Those with less than 50,000 Twitter followers can take heart! They discovered three fascinating things.

1. It is not just the number of ties that matters online, it is also the nature and quality of these ties.

2. To make change happen, we need sheep as well as shepherds.

3. We must learn how to cultivate online interactions that are, or feel, real.

Human beings have always kept score. It’s in our DNA to need feedback, to know where we’re at so we can work out where we’re going. The Internet has given us opportunities to leverage connections and more tools that enable us to keep score. It’s also given us more opportunities to matter.

I’m just not sure there is an accurate measure for mattering.


15 thoughts on “How Do You Measure Influence?

  1. NCompass

    I like your example of Lucy – and I would agree with you… the sad truth however is that very influential people like Lucy need to use Social Media better. I have not seen the quality of Lucy’s tweets but I do know that to make all her efforts worth while she needs to work at getting quality followers.

    In walkth Klout – Use Klout to guide you and it is actually very effective, (sadly – I would agree), but actually Klout is a perfect good tool to tell Lucy she needs more followers, she needs more people to ‘retweet’ or share her news, she needs to drop keywords into her tweets so that she becomes ‘influential’ about ‘adoption’ or whatever the target keywords are.

    Yes this is sounding a little business like, but if Lucy is going to waste her time Tweeting she may as well make it profitable to her cause. Klout is a free tool that we normal people are lucky to have… Big Brand invest millions in software that tries to do exactly the same thing.

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  3. Carolee a.ka. Blogging Biz Mom

    The question is- if it’s all based on volume of tweets….do they measure only the “good” tweets, or include the spam (the minute-to-minute accounts of one’s day…..)

    Anyone can tweet stupid stuff for hours on end…..

  4. Bernadette Jiwa

    Hi again Mark,

    Thanks! And that’s’ no problem it’s an easy mistake to make.

    Umair has been tweeting a lot around the subject of ‘mattering’ in business lately which is really refreshing.

    Looking forward to staying connected.

  5. Mark Harai

    Oops, please pardon my mistake Bernadette – I missed that you authored this post.

    I love that tweet by Umair – profound and filled with meaning!

    Have a good evening Bernadette – hope to chat again soon! (subscribing to your blog : )

  6. Bernadette Jiwa

    Just one minute ago Umair Haque who writes for Harvard Business Review sent out this tweet;

    “It’s not about winning. It’s about mattering. The future isn’t a game. It’s a human creation–whose worth is measured in meaning.”

    This guy knows what he’s talking about!

  7. Bernadette Jiwa

    Hi Mark,

    Some great observations there.
    I think the key word you’ve used is ‘genuine’.
    All of us are searching for more authentic experiences even with the businesses we interact with.
    Hence the success of Zappos and businesses like it.

    Our intentions matter.

  8. Mark Harai

    Meaningful Relationships = Influence.

    If it didn’t, what would be the value?

    It takes work, care, sincerity and a strong desire to get to know others to build influence. Too many people work way to hard to get people to like them, instead of just being genuinely interested in others. The first focus is about you; the other is about those you can influence.

    Cheers to this post Stanford!

  9. Bernadette Jiwa

    Thanks Rich,

    I’m not for bashing the tools. I’ll admit that I was skeptical myself (I’ve only had a Twiiter account for three months). It’s a case of not being fixated on them to the exclusion of understanding what’s really important.

    Tools like Twitter work best when you’ve built a great platform independent of them.

    People like Gary Vaynerchuk for example leverage online tools but not to the exclusion of nurturing his offline business.

    Jason that’s it exactly!
    I think we forget that when we’re just tweeting to an avatar. It is about, ‘humans connecting to humans.’

    Last night I saw a tweet from a well known designer empathizing with a colleague who had just tweeted about the devastating loss of his baby daughter. It doesn’t get more human than that.

  10. Brett Duncan

    Rich -

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve given Klout a hard time, but it does look like they’re at least trying to measure “the good stuff” as much as possible. And I don’t care who you are, if Paris Hilton RTs you, it’s gonna have a noticeable impact.

    I think the overlooked greatness of Twitter especially is that you have a very easy way to find the right people to connect with, and then connect with them. It’s a great door-opener; I’ve used it that way to great success.


  11. Jason Sokol

    Your article reminds me of one of my favorite clients. He has built an incredibly successful online/social presence. But little of his success has come from what he actually does online. Rather, he spends a ton of time working hard every day and getting to know his customers on a personal level.

    Klout will never be able to measure this side of a person’s social relevance. It is a good tool; however, we must be real about what this is really about – humans connecting with humans.

  12. Bernadette Jiwa

    Thanks Brett for taking the time to comment.
    Great point about filtering data. Yes, it’s okay to measure as long as we are measuring the right stuff.

    We can sometimes get caught up in thinking that getting more followers or traffic is the goal when what we should perhaps be focused on is building a tribe of the right followers. Not just more traffic but better traffic.

  13. Rich, Leeds

    I think the fact that Paris Hilton has a score of 83 says that it’s not really worth worrying about!

    Twitter is a fun way to pass the time, but going out into the world and actually doing something like your friend’s organisation has far more influence on the world than a bon mot being re-tweeted ever could.

    In terms of using it for business, Klout doesn’t seem to measure important things like how many people seeing your tweets are actually the sort of people you want to target. It measures volume, rather than relevance.

  14. Brett Duncan

    Such a wonderful reminder. I know that the quality of the relationship is what matters, but I must admit; I get caught up in the quantity all too often.

    I think Klout is doing a good thing, and yet I don’t think we can accurately, systematically measure influence and sentiment, which so many tools are trying to do. We’ve gotta be careful not to put too much stock in these tools and know how to filter the data.


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