Is Influence A Number... And Is It Based On Twitter?
from the hard-to-believe dept
I have to admit that the whole thing seems amusing to me, and in some sense, screams of a scam by users against companies. As long as you can convince them you're "influential" (whatever that means), you can get special treatment. Considering how frequently many companies have mistreated people, the idea that you can game a system (and most of these systems appear very gamable) and get special treatment has a bit of a poetic justice feel to it. But the whole thing also seems crazy, in the simple idea that just because you put a number on something, that it's then been "defined." There doesn't seem to be any clear way to make sure that any of these numbers actually mean anything, or actually have any real impact on "influence." Yet, because there's a number, it's considered important and accurate.
The other thing that makes me wonder about these sorts of things is that I don't use all of these different communications platforms the same way or for the same reasons. I use Facebook and Twitter was a method of communicating, not of influencing people. Yet if suddenly these random and arbitrary scores become important, do I start thinking differently about how I use these tools? Do I suddenly have incentives to get a lot more followers who will repeat what I say because it might increase my "influence" score? Personally, I don't care enough to do that, and it would probably ruin the benefits I get out of things like Facebook and Twitter, but it does make me wonder how attempts to define something that isn't really definable leads to a change in how those tools are used.
And, of course, the most damning point on all of these attempts to declare certain individuals as "influencers" is the research -- already a few years old -- that suggests the people who are declared as "influentials" may not really have that much influence. That is, people are most often influenced by people who they really know personally, rather than someone who is "famous" in some form or another. Now I do wonder if that's changing over time, and many people point out that Twitter and Facebook and the like often do make it feel like you get to "know" other people who you might not really know in real life, but it seems like in this rush to "grade" who is influential and who is not, we may have missed out on the fact that influence doesn't work like that...