This has been driving me crazy. That Brands are being conned by the likes of Klout and Peer Index into thinking they can identify a stranger to become an influential brand advocate. There are also many well know bloggers and social media talking heads who like to keep pushing this flawed view to enrich themselves and their agencies.
To destroy this myth and bring reality I will cover the following:
What is influence really?
How much do we really share online publicly vs private?
Can we use Online Behavior as a true tool?
- Can we use a stranger to influence on our behalf?
The first flaw is calling this Social Online Influence. The fact is unless you are a media company seeking content shared and read offline is most important. You want a sale of your product. I can be viewed as influential online because I have a lot of listeners and people who re-share what I say, but how do we know I am generating action offline? Isn’t my private communication offline just as important if not more important?
Next, considering at most 1% of my communication is public and takes place online each day is this possible? With most of my Online connections loose bonds vs strong would someone even take my advice? With 173 SMS texts sent to each Facebook status update isn’t SMS more powerful than Facebook? Isn’t having a 1 on 1 conversion more important than Twitter? In fact can we even trust what people say online?
Now lets look at their premise. We all share on social networks and businesses like Klout can comb through our sharing to see what we are exerts in and if we are influential online. With over 50% of Facebook accounts 100% private (I estimate 70%) and really only Twitter being public and open how can we even begin to get a real view on people’s social influence? With only maybe 20 million active Tweeters each day in the US you are missing the 230 million consumers not on Twitter each day. This to me is a very flawed pool of communication. I send a ton of emails every day that these companies can’t see.
Lastly can we use a stranger to advance our cause to sell more? The answer is no we can’t. Why would I become an advocate for you unless you bribe me. I don’t know you. If I am truly an exert that strangers go to for advice would I risk the reputation that probably took years to build just because you sent me a free item to try out? Could I truly believe in your product from such a short time using it? Or would I even share content just because you gave me a perk if if my reputation takes a hit if the content is bad?
The fact is none of this works. I haven’t seen proof. No white papers ever show online influence galvanizing sales. Nor of any success using a Klout perk. It doesn’t work. Spend your marketing money elsewhere.
If your product is that good do you really need Klout? Won’t your customers tell others online for you? I do this all the time…..for Brands I already love. It might not build sales but it builds awareness.
What works is starting with a great product or service. Using Social Media and Customer Service to grow strong bonds with your customers like Chobani has done with me. And using those existing relationships to create brand advocacy. That is the only way this works. In political terms it is called galvanizing your base. Because using a scoring method to find strangers to promote your product….doesn’t work.