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Followers are no measure of influence?

Not so sure about this one.

I’ve espoused the belief that social media is just a tool that helps build your personal network.  You have your 1,000 Facebook friends, 2,500 followers on Twitter and 500 followers of your bolg and you’ve got a network.  A pretty big one at that.  If you keep building that network, who knows where you will be in five, 10, 20 years.  A huge network with huge influence. Or at least a huge network with the potential of having huge influence.

Justin Bieber has 6.4 million followers on Twitter

What you say on your network helps define your “programming.”  Some of us are more like PBS or BBC, while others are like FOX and Speed TV.  Some are deep, some are shallow, but they each wield influence in different ways.

But whatever your programming may be, the more followers you have — the bigger your network — the more influence you have.  People wouldn’t be following you unless they were interested in what you had to say.  At least that’s what I used to think.

There’s an interesting column by Matthew Creamer in Advertising Age Magazine today that questions that notion.  Creamer has reviewed a number of studies and talked to opinion leaders about the importance of followers and influence.  http://bit.ly/hDDLqH

Near the end of the column he quotes Amber Naslund, VP at the social-media monitoring firm Radian6.  Naslund says,  “To me, influence isn’t about popularity. Or even reach. It’s about the trust, authority, and presence to drive relevant actions within your community that create something of substance.”

Hard to argue Naslund’s position, but to have influence in the broader perspective, you have to influence more people than just those in a small group, those within your community.  To have influence you have to reach people outside your community.  And who is to determine what something of substance is.  Who’s to say that using your influence to get people to buy something isn’t  just as important as using your influence to get people to believe something or change what they believe about something.

Like I said, I’m not sure about this one, but it gets you to thinking.

Just because Justin Bieber has 6.4 million followers on Twitter, does he have more influence than me?  While I think my network is deeper and more like PBS or CNN than Bieber’s, I’ve got to be realistic.  With 6.4 million followers of his Nickelodeon-network he sure has the potential to have more influence.  I guess it’s how you wield that influence then, isn’t it?

Much to ponder in the new year.  Much to ponder.

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Passion Rules!


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