I ran a quick experiment on my Google Reader feed the other day. It was right after I had rebalanced the number of sites I stream per category. I searched for the term "influence". The results say a lot about the ubiquity of the term, as well as the diversity of its uses:
...does not influence ultimate conversion. What a home page can do is entice the visitor to stay on your site for more than one page view. This means a successful home page test reduces bounce rate and wins a higher percentage of clicks deeper into your site. [HubSpot]
...influence" by attaching a number to your reach and activity within the social web. The bigger the number, the bigger your influence. Guess what? It won't matter. As you should all know by now, I am a big proponent and believer that the future of the web is going to be relevancy based. This means your actions, not the actions of others, will determine... [Pages are Social or PAS]
...able to influence & inspire people's behavior on a much larger scale. In other words, they'd be able to turn their vast data repositories into marketing. The simple truth behind using data as marketing is that people are sensitive to the design of information environments and that others are instrumental in individual motivation... [i(love)marketing]
...influence girls' interest in technology and engineering? From Young makers to e-textile designers to student IT support squads, the stories and research imply that the answer is simply, "yes, of course." Last month I had the very cool opportunity to discuss this topic as part of a panel at the National Coalition for Women in IT (NCWIT) Summit ...[O'Reilly Radar]
...the influence of a community of marketing bloggers changed the way this company worked with blogger, the methodology information it released to the public and developed guidelines for how its PR agency would interact with bloggers. Back-story Lessons Learned: One voice, that joins with a larger community, can make a difference and even impact... [Diva Marketing]
...you can influence the input of content. The explosion of digital content has been made possible, in large part, by blogging platforms. Yet, the quality of the content has been uneven, and that’s probably being generous. So why not attack the problem at the top of the funnel? Help people write better content. I like the idea... [Blind Five Year Old]
...circles of influence. Set it up, make the communication on the page crystal clear, and get people talking about it. 2. Stick to the Cause. Everyone involved should be about the cause and little else. The people willing to lend themselves, or their brands, to promote and further your cause should be your target audience... [Experience Architect Blog]
...tastemakers who influence culture and inspire a following. And here are a few things which Apple doesn't have: Any success or demonstrated ability in making compelling clients for social networking, whether in the form of Game Center or Ping. A usable API for developers to build on this realtime networking infrastructure in a lightweight way... [Anil Dash]
..explains real influence. So then why do CEOs, CMOs, and even brand managers insist on this pointless discussion? Because, too many of us have been enchanted by the tools. Too many of us have been caught up in the hype and glory of amazing technology to recognize that social media marketing is essentially the same old ball game using different tools... [Marketing Pilgrim]
There's a lot of variety here. There is enough context to tell what we're talking about. Do you see a pattern? I do.
In all cases, it means a variation of having an effect on something -- being a contribution to (the word, after all, has tributary at its roots), causing something (by en large of a positive nature), associated with inspiring, generating, making something a reality.
Today, at the Vocus User Group conference, I am putting this meaning, and its associated relevance, back into the term, and showing session attendees how to connect, inquire, see and sense, commit, and respond their way into the hearts and minds of their customers. So they can inspire, generate, become a contribution to earned loyalty, credibility, and trust.
Find more of my thinking about influence here.