Does Your Digital Influence Really Matter?

The importance and relevance of sites that track your Internet-social influence, like Klout, have been heavily debated. Clearly, the more your content is re-tweeted, reshared or re-blogged, the more exposure Internet users will have. But, does having a high digital clout “score” help you in the real world?

Thousands of brands rely on Internet-based social networking as part of their overall marketing strategy. They try to create original, engaging and compelling content that will trigger an emotional response to either make you share their content with others or to get you thinking more about their products and services.

As consumers of this—and all—information, we are left with options of what we can do with the information we are presented with. Usually, with video ads, we can skip them, watch them or ignore them. When we see a text or image-based advertisement, we can read it, or scroll past it.

Berthillon ice cream cone photo by maki on Flickr
Berthillon ice cream cone photo by maki on Flickr

Something we couldn’t do—until recently—is share that information. Companies and advertising agencies are starting to change the way they think about their ads. Instead of creating just their traditional advertising campaigns, they are trying to create share-worthy campaigns. By creating content that users find useful, interesting or compelling, they can expand their reach well beyond the base of consumers that already follow them.

This comes as no surprise and its really not anything new, but a lot more brands are starting to fully grasp, understand and capitalize on this concept. But what does that have to do with you?

As the consumer, you have that option, you have the option to passively consume the content or to do something with it. The companies are hoping that you will do something with it and help them expand their reach. So what should you do?

Without even realizing it, you are a brand ambassador. Not necessarily for one brand in particular, but to all of the brands that you passionately patronize. Wearing New Balance sneakers? Then you’re sporting their logo and a part of their brand’s identity. Drinking a can of Coca-Cola in its original container? You are representing their brand just by sipping on one of their product’s offerings.

In the physical world, it was hard—well, virtually impossible—to track who wore New Balance sneakers in the most conspicuous fashion, or who drank a bottle of Coca-Cola in front of the largest audience on the most consistent basis. But now, with social media, there are services emerging which help quantify “social influence.” Therefore, those with the largest audiences, consisting of the highest percentage of a certain demographic, become extremely important to brands wishing to push their products and services.

As services like Klout improve their algorithms and become more widely excepted, they will become the true barometers of social influence and a key indicator to brands who want to target their advertising to highly influential individuals.

I’m not just talking about super models and race car drivers, but the class president, the small town’s fashionista, regular every day people that really have influence among their followers.

As we continue embracing and utilizing social media to communicate with our peers, whether in the next office or on the other side of the globe, we are going to see more and more brands attempting to enter the space and earn your business. One of the big ways we will see this is through perks and incentives.

Currently, Klout’s “perks” are anything but perfect. In fact, they’re a little bit underwhelming. However, as more brands realize the importance of attracting influence people, they might be more willing to share their products and services at either a lower cost or complimentary basis.

How can you capitalize on that? Become the mayor on Foursquare, become an expert in a particular niche. Sure, this might help you get some free samples or a discount on a particular service, but what it will really do is open doors for you and your future. By becoming an expert or authority in any niche, you gain not only an audience, but a network of both people and opportunities, and those, my friend, are worth much more than any marketing company could offer.

One thought on “Does Your Digital Influence Really Matter?”

  1. I think that our digital influence is being determined by how we impact other people – which is difficult to accurately reconstruct in an algorithm. You only see how many followers someone has for instance in twitter but you do not see whether they changed their behavior because of the person they follow.

    I ran across a pretty funny site making fun of Klout (I have no financial or other interest in it) – just funny to look myself on some of my friends up 🙂

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