A Heretic’s Quest for Influence Beyond Klout

Image by Matthew Venn Influence: The act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command. I’m reading a series of books right now trying to understand what makes someone influential. There are more tangential theories and approaches into the psychology of motivation than one can imagine, well beyond the universe of Klout. It’s easy to conclude that no one understands what causes one person to influence another. Today’s influence theories offer just a slice of individual online behavior based on attention and reach metrics. These strength and influence algorithms support theories about content production and authority. Yet they cannot identify what causes actual people and their larger social networks to adapt and […]

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The Uberinfluencer and Bottom-Up Networks

ImageMalcolm Gladwell by the Business Makers “Influencer theory” as it is discussed today on the social web is a pop myth. The various schools of thought lack the substantive analytical scientific study and proof to be considered legitimate or factual. Yet they are used by tens of thousands of marketers to strategically position themselves, their companies or clients online. Auburn Professor Robert French said in a comment on Friday’s round up of these theories on SmartBrief and pictured below, “Frankly, all of the efforts in social media that I have seen aimed at defining influence and influencers are tools that seek to (a) drive sales of a company/interest, (b) try to elevate a company/interest into some form of ‘thought leader’ […]

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The State of Influencer Theory Infographic

The above infographic — “The State of Influencer Theory” (download here) — was published today as part of a primer on influence theory that appeared in SmartBrief on Social Media. The post updates a section of Welcome to the Fifth Estate to include leaderboard theory, such as Klout and Empire Avenue. Addressing some issues pointed out in “Infographics: Art or Porn,” this graphic is designed by Jess3 (thank you, Jesse and Leslie), the industry leader in online data visualization. The infographic fits on one screen view. Because the graphic depicts people and theories, it is designed as a fun, cartoonesque map that illustrates the evolution of theory, creating a pop art element to it. The downloadable graphic is licensed as […]

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The History of Influencer Theory on the Social Web

This weekend’s F@st Company The Influence Project gaff sparked a great discussion about influence. It’s a fascinating conversation because influence means so much to all of us online. Successful online word of mouth or grassroots marketing usually requires community influencers embracing and spreading the message. The discussion about what influence really is has been ongoing since the social web first began. Eight years ago, Malcolm Gladwell’s the Tipping Point (2002), served as a great starting place to discuss influencers. We talked about Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen. Yahoo’s Duncan Watts had a well-discussed counterpoint to Gladwell in F@st Company (woops) a couple of years ago dismissing “The Law of the Few” …in the large majority of cases, the cascade began with […]

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