If you’ve found your way to this blog post then I probably don’t have to sell you on the idea that social media is fundamentally changing the way businesses market themselves and connect with customers. Here’s the thing: they aren’t doing this just because it’s the cool new thing. One of the biggest reasons companies are adopting social media is because they’ve learned that people trust their friends more than “A-list” bloggers or other forms of advertising. These companies are looking to leverage your influence to help spread the word about their company or product.
Consulting firms like Razorfish even say influence “is a driving force that affects everything we do as an agency, and, as we’re impressing upon our clients, it matters more than ever in this economic downturn as consumers across the country are losing faith in large institutions and experts and instead are turning to each other for advice”.
Even Harvard Business Review says that “online connections might be strategically targeted so as to take advantage of their influence on one another”. Think about this for a second, your ability to influence others through social media is becoming a core marketing strategy for many businesses.
Influence has become the currency of social media. While companies might not cut a check in exchange for your influence (you would probably instantly become less influential if they did), in this world of “user-generated marketing” there is real value in being influential. Companies will often establish focus groups around influencers where their opinions directly shapes what products are created and how they are sold. Influencers often are invited to special events, given product samples and can (and should) be treated like royalty by companies.
Some people use influence measurement tools like Klout for the simple gratification that they are using Twitter correctly. Others are just looking to have their ego stroked (we all need it sometimes). The truth though is that the individual is now a broadcaster and is being monetized by businesses. There is power in understanding how you are viewed by companies and the public at large. The best part about being an influencer isn’t being hooked up by companies because you helped spread the word for them, it’s being able to spread your own ideas and knowing that with a simple tweet you can have almost any question answered or door opened. If you dig into the data provided by Klout you can maximize your ability to do that.