I’ve been in the search and social media space long enough to know that without a doubt the two most vexing topics year in and year out are how best to leverage a brands presence in social media and how to engage with influencers. In my opinion, influence in social can have many faces. The face we see the most isn’t an influencer but what I like to call a “frequencer.” This person isn’t as much a thought leader as they are someone who pushes out content like they’re a bot. In fact, they just might be a bot, but what we need to stop doing is calling them an influencer and relying on their influence to help our brand. There’s a better way. You see at the end of the day, it’s all about eyeballs and traffic. If it’s “influence” that drives them, then so be it.
Look Beyond the Numbers
If we look at Twitter for example, what does 600,000 tweets mean to you? Does that mean influence? What are they influencing? How to schedule a post or a tweet 100x a day? They aren’t influencers, they’re conduits of someone else’s information. They’re facilitators of someone else’s thoughts. When do they have time to take a meeting? When do they have time to formulate their own POV?
A thought leader, in my opinion, is sharing their thoughts, their opinions, their fears, their predictions and their point of views on a topic or discipline that they’re deeply familiar with in a space that they’re deeply tethered to. These are people that drive traffic.
Recently Onalytica came out with their Top 100 Influencers in digital transformation, a space that I am deeply familiar with. I don’t necessarily consider myself an influencer in the space, but I am acutely aware of what is happening in the space, who the players are, who the companies are, and who the wannabe influencers are.
If we are going to determine influence by frequency and ‘hashtagery’, then the Onalytica lists are spot on. If we were going to base it on thought leadership and actual engagement, then you’d have to pare the lists down by half, maybe more. This isn’t an indictment on Onalytica or those that are on the list as much as it is a suggestion to brands and those that manage social media at the highest levels, to understand more of what and who you’re measuring. Or better yet, what the end game is.
Brands and orgs can not get caught up in an equation that looks something like this:
Visibility x Frequency = Authority
Readers have to take the content that is pushed out on all social platforms and do the following: Consider the source, consider why it’s being shared, consider what the end game might be, and then determine its value to you and your org. At the end of the day, give me the thought leader, not the influencer.