One of the recurring, underlying themes in the blogosphere is influence.
This week, a few of the good posts revolving around influence included Kristi Hines‘ How to Find the Most Influential People on Twitter in Your Niche, which details some strategies you can use to develop relationships with people of influence, (with the ideal result being that you also increase yours).
One of my posts was published over at Big Girl Branding, If No One is Listening, It’s Time to Expand Your Circle, which outlines three sites where you can publish your work (so, going outside of your blog) to increase your reach aka influence.
Susan Murphy (suzemuse.com) wrote Why Are We So Hung Up on Influence, in which she questions whether we put too much importance in the idea of influence, particularly as it’s expressed in numbers (like Twitter Klout scores, etc.) It’s a great post and in terms of considering someone highly influential based on sheer volume, she’s right that that’s not the right way to look at it.
Lessons from The Tipping Point
If you’ve ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, you can see that influence, as expressed in numbers, does matter (provided that you actually believe his research/observations). Getting hung up on numbers isn’t the question; that’s a question of personality and maturity. But being able to see numbers for what they are is essential.
The subtitle to The Tipping Point is ‘How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,’ but if you stop reading there, you’d be missing the entire point. Don’t get caught up on the word little because it’s the word big in that sentence that matters most in the book. It’s calling a “tipping” point for a reason. The cause of the tipping point may be small, but without the result – the effect – it would be moot.
Numbers matter. I realize that it is an inconvenient truth. If you are paid hourly, and next week you only receive payment for 1/3 of those hours, you would notice then that numbers matter. Likewise, if your biggest retweeter decided tomorrow that they don’t want to retweet any more of your stuff, you would surely notice that numbers matter. If you have been selling 40 ebooks a month through an affiliate who receives a few thousand unique visitors a day, and tomorrow that affiliate pulls your ad down, you will see quickly that numbers matter. In those last two examples, the retweeter and the affiliate are influencers, and if they were to shut down their influence as far as you are concerned, it would become very obvious that numbers matter.
Importantly, though, we should always keep numbers in perspective, and realize the importance of both cause and effect.
You Are the Cause, Influence is the Effect
I’m going to make a huge assumption here that as a blogger, you would be thrilled if you suddenly had a lot more readers, a lot more subscribers, a lot more Twitter followers, a lot more Facebook fans, etc. If that’s an incorrect assumption, then consider this irrelevant in your case.
Assuming, though, that you would love to expand your reach, do you realize your ability to influence as it stands right now? Does it matter? Would it make a difference in sales, clientele, subscriber number? Do you take responsibility for it?
The thing about influence is that it can build; it can be set off by the domino effect. You may not be what is defined as an “[intlink id=”3341″ type=”post” target=”_blank”]influencer[/intlink],” per se, but you could possibly influence an influencer. Or you could influence someone who has the ear of an influencer. It’s quite possible. You may be already part of a domino effect that you haven’t been able to see.
Influence in Blogging and Social Media
Do you consider yourself an influential blogger? If so, how do you know that is the case?
Do you think the very question is out of line?
Also, is the term or label influence something we get hung up on, yet the meaning itself still remains vitally important? For example, if social media clout was removed as a label, would it not still be just as important to note whether some people get more click throughs from their tweets than others? Or whether some bloggers attract more readers, or get more subscribers, than you? What do you think?