What is influence?
For a decade, Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has served as a touchstone for those who believe that influence resides in the hands of a select few.
Not so, says a new generation of marketers. They believe that thanks to the democratizing power of the Internet, anyone can be an Influential.
Both camps are wrong.
True influence flows from drawing together people with shared interests. This page collects my thinking about the topic.
Brands can identify and enroll or build and grow influence. Focus on the process of identifying areas of relevancy among your customers and prospects, building community, and allowing others to amplify your influence as you meet their needs.
So many factors contribute to the development of your identity, our identity is made up of several things:
- heritage -- where we were born, where we live, our age, educational background, etc.
- environment -- transient external factors such as the economy
- needs -- they include both what we truly need and what we think we need and actually just want
- interactions -- we also define ourselves in relationship with others
Which then get married to the same and other factors contributing to our behavior -- context and trust among the strongest.
A few lessons to remember:
- Focus less on who people influence and more on how people are influenced.
- Think more about networks, and network structure, rather than treating everyone as behaving independently (group dynamics).
- Move away from the idea that buzz can be engineered to achieve some pre-established outcome, and get better at measuring and reacting to buzz that arises naturally (observation from context).
Influence at work
How do you create collaboration with your teams? How do you marry what with how? From research, creating collaboration is useful when:
- Activity cannot be divided into small independent pieces (otherwise Collection would be better).
- There are satisfactory ways of managing the dependencies among the pieces.
The organization's approach to decisions can be situational. However, the decision about how you're going to make decisions needs to be transparent and communicated.
The skinny on influence tools
A couple of key questions I often hear are:
- how do you get people to do "xyz"? Hence my favorite question: why?
- do you need scale? Is there higher influence in smaller circles?
- can we move from retweets to clicks? How about validating metrics?
True influencers are those who have built platforms where attention and trust are currencies. My take on tools is that they provide data points; they're not the Holy Grail.
How do You (or can you) Measure Online Influence (plus my review of Twylah)
The 25 articles + 1 presentation on this page will help you define your needs when it comes to influence and marketing.
This is also one of my keynote topics. See how I weaved the trends and conversations into a story in preparation for my solo presentation on influence at SxSW Interactive March 14, 2011, updated for SMX, September 2014.