I read a lengthy post this weekend from The Fast Company that gives a great definition of influence in the social age. The semantics of what influence means has been the subject of some controversy again recently, prompted by new lists of Recruiter and HR on-line influencers. A few people have really got a bee in their bonnet on the subject, either over whether the list should be kept to strict practitioners or what influence really means.
The Fast Track article cites research from HP Labs, quoting:
“HP Labs did a study earlier this year that defined online influence as the ability to overcome a follower’s desire to remain passive”
I think this is a good definition, linked to my previous post on engagement.
Dictionary.com defines influence as:
1. The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others: He used family influence to get the contract.
The Fast Company post gave some really impressive figures for a collection of You Tube vloggers (video bloggers) that were achieving over 2.5Mn watches of their video. The interesting thing for me was the volume of clicks and looks they generate by talking about products, events or sites. the other important point is that none of them worked in the areas they were talking about, they were giving their own opinion and view-point.
To be considered influential in the past, you needed a power base to speak from. This was usually based on your position and public profile, where you were published or quoted. High profile personalities were enlisted to endorse causes, products, politics or issues, and their comment made us think about things, add our support or go and have a look. This level of influence inevitably took years to achieve and was achieved by few. This was restricted not by knowledge or value of opinion, but by outlet. It was hard for anyone without high-profile to be heard, seen or read.
Social media has been a game changer in this respect and has disrupted the traditional hierarchy. While some don’t like that, and protest loudly from the rooftops, (or their keyboards anyway).
Influence, albeit short-term has undoubtedly changed. It is important to note however, that long term influence in a traditional sense still exists.
I recently read a Facebook post from John Sumser that commented (this is my interpretation not the post), that in the on-line, social media age where everyone now has an outlet influence has changed. It is now possible to achieve influence quickly, but this is short-term influence rather than long term.
If an on-line influencer takes a month off, the influence disappears and needs to be built again, in the past, influence was a lot more long term and permanent. In other words, you can only be influential whilst you remain active. It is short-term, real-time influence in to action and we live in an instant society with short memories. You are as good and as memorable as your latest content.
The next question comes to size of network and connections. It could be argued that someone with a small number of connections (be they friends, connections or followers) that achieve a high click-through/action ratio to posts are more influential than those with a large network that achieve a higher volume of actions but a lower ratio of actions to connections. Marketeers however would argue (with some cause), that eyes are everything. The more people looking, the better chance of converting viewers to customers.
Real influencers always share a “call to action” with their followers, connections, friends, fans and audience, and it is the consistent take up of a call to action that indicates influence.
In terms of influence, John Sumser and trakkr ranked me as the 4th most influential on-line recruiter, up from 6 in the last survey. This is based on 3 measures:
1: Reach (total number of followers and friends)
2: Relevance (Based purely on a measure of keywords you use on your posts, tweets, updates etc.
3: Resonance (measured by mentions and link-backs.)
I’m flattered because firstly, I’m no longer a practicing recruiter. My social content is clearly recruiter based according to the key-word count, and secondly because I don’t view myself as an influencer in the traditional sense. What I am achieving however, is plenty of mentions, clicks and calls to action.
I’m also flattered because I would have placed quite a few others ahead of me on the list in terms of influence over me.
What does “influence” mean to recruiting and HR?
You need to think through how you communicate in order to influence your target audience. The things you need to consider are:
Who makes up your target audience?
Where are their social places? Channels, chats, games, forums, events etc
Who are the influencers in your target sector and what are they talking about?
What content has impact and what are people responding to? You can follow this by looking at posts that get retweeted or shared, blog posts that prove popular etc.
What is the best approach to networking for you? Shotgun or Sniper? (wide network inside and out or your sector or very specific and niche.)
When is the best times for you to be live and active in these networks?
What content is in most demand?
Influence will only come with credibility, and that is built by continuously sharing good content regardless of source, and being seen to be contributing to the network. If your contribution is rated, and you maintain a consistent presence, it wont be too long before you have a level of influence in your target sector.
This video from my friend and inspiration Amanda Hite demonstrates a real case study of harnessing influence for the “No Kid Hungry” charity. I have blogged about this cause before, but it still impresses me how this campaign has gone viral by targeting a wide range of influencers who inspired action in others.
What do you consider on-line influence to be? How important is reach to you? What do you do to increase your influence?
I’d be very interested in your views.
Be ambassadors of influence,
Links Mentioned In This Post: