The Fallacy of the Democratization of Influence

Elite social influenceWhen we currently think of influence, we probably think of social scoring platforms like Klout, Kred and PeerIndex. These are the early adopters to the social influence space and, as such, have built an impressive level of awareness around their platforms and definition of influence.

Proponents of social scoring have praised Klout, as the most popular platform, for democratizing influence – allowing anyone to be an influencer regardless of audience size, social standing and location.

While it’s true that social scoring can start the process of finding influencers, it’s not quite as clear cut when it comes to being democratic around influence itself.

Social Scoring Silos the Elite

The problem with any scoring system is that it only rewards those with a high number. Want to buy a car? Tough luck if your FICO score is under a certain amount. The same goes for social scoring in the influence space.

Want to have a new Cadillac to test drive for a weekend? You better have a score over X amount. Free flight or upgrade to first class hotel accommodation? Make sure your score is high enough.

This engenders an ” us against them” mentality. Jane Average may be a better person to drive conversation and foot traffic to a car dealership because she’s a gearhead yet Joe Average, who has no intent to buy that car brand but has a higher Klout score because he’s more active online, is the one that gets the car keys.

This elite rewards system now engenders another problem – it begins to affect the natural tone of online conversations, as those below the fold realize they can change their language online and be identified as an industry influencer because they’re speaking about a certain brand more.

As the online language changes, the algorithms are rendered ineffective because now everyone truly is an influencer – and yet, they’re clearly not.

The True Definition of Influence

Which brings us to the real crux about influence – who truly impacts how a decision is made and at what point in the purchase cycle of a customer does this decision get made? Is it as a result of a socially active broadcaster, or someone else completely? And, if it’s someone else, do social scoring platforms have the ability to identify that person?

Our belief is that social scoring is not true influence, and that’s why the democratization of influence through social scoring is a flawed, if worthy, ideal. It’s one of the reasons that an early mover like Kred is moving away from scoring as a defining metric.

There are bigger pictures and scenarios at play at every single touchpoint of a customer’s journey through an influence-led path, and the results of who actually influences their decision may surprise you.

Influence decision process

Yet it’s these decisions that truly matter to a brand when it comes to influence marketing – because scores and amplification will only get you so far. No company can remain in business on the amount of retweets and Facebook Likes they received alone.

The conversation around the future of influence is just getting started – and it’s not about an elite partygoer trading on online noise and a grade…

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About Danny Brown

Danny Brown is the co-author of Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, described as "the book that will change the way we do business today" and recognized as one of the Top 100 Business Books in America by Nielsen BookScan. He’s an award-winning marketer whose delivered results for organizations like Microsoft Canada, BlackBerry, FedEx, Ford Canada and LG Electronics, and his blog is recognized as the #1 marketing blog in the world by HubSpot.

10 comments
uponacloud
uponacloud

Can't wait to have the book, I'm working on the topic too (from the psychology behind why influence works pov tho).

Rivka Kawano
Rivka Kawano

Agreed - it is all about the quality of relationships that make someone influential, not so much the quantity of those relationships or the ability to throw around some key words. Given that, do you feel there are any good measures of true influence right now?

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Thanks miss - it's time we moved into real influence discussions. ;-)

Shannon Eastman
Shannon Eastman

Dannnnyyyyyyyyy! Hat tip my friend. Hat bloody tip. Looking forward to it... and a healthy debate after. X

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@uponacloud That's an area we focus specifically on in Ch. 2, as well as drives a lot of the discussion around situational factors that disrupt messages throughout the rest of the book, and how to recognize, counter and plan around the sentiment and emotional resonance that comes into play.

Look forward to hearing more on your work. :) 

Latest blog post: Homepage Top

Influence Marketing
Influence Marketing

Hi there Rivka, There are definitely some great platforms that are making the right connections between influence and real action/context - you can find some here: http://dannybrown.me/2013/01/02/5-influence-platforms-to-watch-in-2013/ A large part of our book defines the measurements that brands need to be using to track how successful a campaign was, based on goals. And we also offer a roadmap for building on the initial buzz, and not just making influence a one-hit wonder. Thanks for the comment!

Influence Marketing
Influence Marketing

Thanks, Linda - now if only we can continue to move the conversation forward. :)

uponacloud
uponacloud

@Danny Brown Thanks, I'm flattered :) it's a very humble project, I'm just trying to make my work experience valuable towards going back to academia...

Trackbacks

  1. [...] “There are bigger pictures and scenarios at play at every single touchpoint of a customer’s journey through an influence-led path, and the results of who actually influences their decision may surprise you…. Yet it’s these decisions that truly matter to a brand when it comes to influence marketing – because scores and amplification will only get you so far.” – Danny Brown (@dannybrown), The Fallacy of the Democratization of Influence [...]

  2. [...] than an algorithmic rank with no real context behind it. When this happens, it takes us back to the “influencer elite” we’ve talked about on here [...]

  3. [...] an algorithmic rank with no real context behind it. When this happens, it takes us back to the “influencer elite” we’ve talked about on here [...]

  4. [...] than an algorithmic rank with no real context behind it. When this happens, it takes us back to the “influencer elite” I’ve talked about previously on the Influence Marketing [...]

  5. […] A version of this post first appeared on the Influence Marketing book blog. […]