Influence or Effluence? #TruSanFran #RIS11

I’m just back from the excellent Recruiting Innovation Summit at Facebook, and a very lively #truSanFran, sponsored by Bullhorn Reach and hosted by BranchOut.  I ran a track on Influence that had a few key take-aways that I think are worth sharing for consideration and further discussion. With John Sumser in attendance, you just know that any conversation on the topic of on-line influence is going to raise a few eyebrows and create a bit of controversy. I know that each time he publishes one of his HR Examiner/Trakkr index top 25 on-line influencer list, the comments and twitter streams go in to meltdown. Everyone has an opinion, many not complimentary about the list. So much talk, that his own Klout ranking goes up about 10 points. He is one of the leading provokers of conversation and comment on the topic, and that is perhaps the best definitions of what on-line influence is, causing discussion, comment and expression of views. My own view is that the controversy lies in the term influence. There is no doubt that on-line influence is very different to traditional influence, which is longer term and built over time. i prefer the term impact, because this best describes what is being measured by instruments like Klout. An interesting comment to come out of the Recruiting Innovation Summit from 3 of the 5 presenters was that they referred to Klout in order to identify who is active in the social channels, and to involve those with the highest scores in social recruiting projects and social referral programs. I have used the information in the same way to identify potential Brand Advocates, and it has proved both accurate and successful. The conversation from #TruSanFran came to a few interesting conclusions which are worth sharing:

1:  On-line influence is short-term related to activity.

2: Influence fluctuates and changes hands. As one influencer wins work and gets busy, so activity drops and influence changes hand.

3: The top ranked influencers are usually consultants or vendors, rather than practitioners. This is because they(and I include myself in this category), have the need to use the channels to promote their expertise. It is considered part of their job.

4: Influence usually impacts much more on those first joining a channel or a field, looking for new sources of information in an area of interest. They are looking for “influencers”. Twitter uses klout to recommend  follows to new users when they set up a new account. Those with the highest rankings, usually have the most points of contact across a range of channels, and new users are looking for content, and to subscribe to those who appear to have a level of knowledge.

I think the real problem with discussing on-line influence is that people get hung up with the numbers allocated by instruments like klout, and focus on the headline number without looking deeper in to the ratios being measured.

I’m always most interested in my own score for Amplification and Network Influence. This tells me how effective i’m being within the social channels. Over the last 2 weeks I’ve not paid a lot of attention to posting in Facebook, though I have been busier on twitter. When looking at the reasons for a decreased score in Amplification. (I dropped 1 point in the last day.) When I logged in to klout, this is explained in this section. While i accept that it is by no means absolute, it is a guideline of things to think about, if you are serious about using social channels for recruiting and branding.

What are your thoughts? Real influence or effluence?


13 comments on “Influence or Effluence? #TruSanFran #RIS11

  1. Effluence. We should have a top 25 Effluencers list. Not meaning to belittle John Sumser’s work or any esteemed Influencers – think it’s well worth and useful exploring the role and meaning of Influence – seriously! Sometimes though we measure the wrong things or things that we put more emphasis on than what they deserve. I recognise the value of audience – ie reach, amplification, resonance and all Klout-speak terms for a brand. I can see the value in identifying key influencers in an industry sector. But collaboration, being social, conversation, engagement, community, quality content, self-expression and personal creativity are key attributes in a social media context. Not everybody, including myself, value “influence” or narcissistic qualities to the same degree. I don’t care about Twitter follows or the games some play to artificially build followers and their influence scores – they are influential only in gaming Influence. I know lots of people with high Klout scores and some are complete self-promotional twats who provide little original thought – they lack true impact, other to an unintelligent and ill-informed audience. They don’t influence me to change my behaviour. True influence is about engendering behavioural change in others. It’s not or shouldn’t be about popularity alone. To me it’s more about emotional connection.

    Bill you are an influencer in my eyes – you are very giving of your knowledge and time – you showcase others success. You offer an opinion. You create things. You deliver. You are unique. You bridge the gap between online and in real life. You offer more than influence as most others see it – you have impact. I don’t care what score you have on a reputation list.

    I don’t believe a true influencer should care about their level of influence – instead they should care about the difference they make to other people’s lives. All else is effluence.

    • Thanks Paul,
      I agree with you on the numbers, I don’t think it is that important whether you are a 30 or a 60, but there is some value in why the numbers fluctuate up and down in the various areas being measured.
      I see Klout and the use of the term Influence as being the real problem, as this evokes a reaction to the number, chart, table etc. It is interesting that Facebook, Intuit and UPS all look at Klout as an indicator of who to get to share content. i use it as a starter for 10 as well. When these types of organisations are talking about it, I think it is worth a second look, and does have some importance even if you disagree with the rationale behind it.
      The points on who finds this important (new users), and who holds influence rankings i:e: non-practitioners etc, shows the difference between on and off-line influence, as well as the fact that it is short term.
      lets continue the conversation at #truAus on Dec 2’nd.

      • Cool #truAus it is. I’ve looked at those employers’ you mentioned and their presence on the social web. I will keep my opinion to myself for now, but pose that some are playing more of a volume and broadcasting game and not a “social” game.

      • Correction: meant that last sentence to read: “…but pose that some are playing more of a volume and broadcasting game than a “social” game.”

      • Sorry Bill but every aspect of Klout is just snake oil driven by clever marketing. They have done an amazing job of marketing themselves and getting themselves embedded into various CRM systems and the like. Ultimately though all the metrics are meaningless. There is zero transparency and they are just making terms up and passing them off as important. Two recent examples post algorithm change to back this up…..

        1) According to Klout I’m very influential about Star Wars. I’ve tweeted about Star Wars once!

        2) A friend of mine who doesn’t use Twitter and has 10 friends on Facebook to whom he posts infrequently had his score rise from 5 to 45 in one day last week!

        It’s a massive red herring at best and a scam at worst

      • Bill & Paul —

        First off, I really enjoyed listening to both you and @JohnSumser speak on the subject at #TruSanFran.

        That said, I tend to agree that, as Klout is structured, the score isn’t what matters; rather, it’s the change relative to whatever your baseline score is. One learning from our conversation, which has been alluded to in the comments here, is that influence is highly contingent on the audience you’re trying to engage, which assumes objectives unique to that audience. Subject matter and cohort impact in our space, as Bill pointed out, is largely only relevant to vendors (in my case, Bullhorn Reach) and consultants. Practitioners seem to have less reason to garner industry peer influence, aside from receiving industry accolades and notoriety, and have more reason to focus on engaging and recruiting talent.

        One example of a startup (whose name I failed to remember during #TruSanFran) that scores influence relative to competition–a novel approach that tracks ‘influence’ more relevantly, I think, for most companies–is Terametric. The underlying point that makes this approach interesting is that ‘influence’ is important only within the context of how one stacks up against others with similar audiences and objectives. So, for example, @BillBoorman and @JohnSumser might look at l their evels of ‘influence’ under the same lens (even still, they admittedly had somewhat different audiences), whereas UPS might look at how influential they are compared to FedEx or the USPS.

        Steven Duque

    • Paul,
      I’m surprised you don’t see Facebook, Intuit or UPS as social. They are doing plenty of hiring via social channels, and that is their objective. I can’t argue with that. As speakers at RIS, they are held up as examples of best practice, because they get results, that is why the klout comment stands out so much.

      • Bill, don’t want to be taken out of context, so prefer to wait to an IRL #truAUS setting to debate. I used the words “some are playing more of a volume and broadcasting game than a “social” game.” I stand by that. I’m not saying all are not social. I watched the livestream for RIS and are familiar with their respective YouTube channels, Facebook pages etc. Some are doing leading stuff – eg UPS with ROI of advertising – and there are other examples which I have not listed. “Social” and social recruiting to me goes way beyond push and is about conversation and using social platforms and technologies to establish affinity, rapport and trust (making ART) – forming a closer understanding between jobseeker and employer (both ways). I’m not necessarily seeing this – I’m seeing more broadcasting of brand messages and less community (albeit the audience size is often large).

        What we need is a touch more Unconference in social recruiting. At the moment it seems very much like a Conference to me, but with lots of new tools.

        So, when I hear about identifying “Influencers”, it concerns me what the purpose of the influencer is – is it an extra channel to push advertising media (acting as advertising partners) or are these influencers going to be brand champions, community builders etc.? Is this ethereal, undefined influencer thing what we should really be searching for?

  2. The recent Klout algorithm changes makes it even more irrelevant than before. It now seems to reward people who consistently spam Facebook….something that has nothing to do with influence and all to do with killing conversation.

    The race to define “influence’ as some sort of metric or kpi reminds me of the wild west that was digital advertising circa 2001. Lots of people then claimed that some very unsophisticated measurements made them “market leader”. Arguably it took another five years for reliable metrics to evolve in that space and they are still evolving today.

    It is just too early to start integrating these essentially made up meaningless numbers into lists, CRM systems and other platforms. I wish the so called “influencers” actually spent some time actually influencing rather than spamming and then talking about how influential some arbitrary number makes them think they are

    • Matt,
      Thanks for your comments. The reality is that we all pick our own influencers, over who we choose to be influenced by, and there is no algorithm to measure that. My view is that the term “influence” is wrong in the first place.
      I thought John’s comments at #truSanFran were interesting over who is ranked as having influence via Trakkr, and how this is measured. It is transient, and very much related to activity and interaction, comments etc. It’s also interesting that real practioners, as opposed to consultants and vendors rarely rank highly, because they are too busy doing the job.
      While we might discount these rankings, it is worth noting that the speakers at Recruiting Innovation Summit, from some very active companies, all gave reference to looking at Klout.
      We might disagree with the value of doing it, but they are doing it just the same.

    • Thats very true Matt. I find the “influential in” and “influenced by” to be very strange. It does seem to be an occasional grab of a topic. Perhaps they took futurologist to mean a star wars fan.
      I can predict quite closely what my score is going to be based on shares and likes, though i also find it irrelevant to what i’m doing.The higher scores have been quite a good indicator to who is active. I wouldn’t mistake active with influential but it has been a guideline when looking at staff lists and inviting employees to the brand advocate sessions.
      The point John was making was that finding influencers was most important to new people signing up to social channels. Anyone who has been around for a while will have their own personal lists, and it is for this reason that accuracy should be important.
      The fact that some serious companies like Facebook, Intuit and UPS all quote Klout as somewhere they look to see who is active in social means that it has gained credibility in these organisations, and others will have noted it. No one said it was a source of reference in hiring decisions, and that is a good thing in my view.It could be slick marketing, but the integration in to hootsuite, twitter etc gives them the appearance of credibility.
      That said, i think the topic of on-line influence is much bigger than just klout.

      • Have you looked at it since they changed the algorithm last week?

      • Just taken a look. I’m pleased to see i influence my wife, who has FB, not twitter, LinkedIn or a blog, and a klout score of 39. My score is down slightly, to 63. looks like they have moved from weekly to daily scoring. Scores apart from true reach are the same. Reach is 51. Will look at a few more profiles and see.

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