Influence Clarified: We All Live in Networks

Posted by Kendall Allen on April 5th, 2012 at 9:07 am

During today's sessions, I found one of the most delightful industry geared ideas a really simple one. In fact, as someone who advises clients on integrated, increasingly socially led marketing and media -- I appreciated the presenter's care to simply express an often nebulous concept: influence. We often find ourselves in the position of clarifying such concepts for our clients or teams before we can lay out strategy, plan and execution. In the "Occupy Advertising" keynote, Paul Adams, Global Brand Experience Manager for Facebook -- and author of "Grouped," stated quite simply that we all, every single person, live in networks. That's it, all of us.

This is a liberating thought, opening up the concept of influence a bit -- not exclusively attributing it to the most avid connector, or intricately socially graphed "influencer." As you imagine the radiant circles around a person -- any person -- you have their inner circle of intimates, extending further into family and close but not closest friends and on outward into degrees of acquaintance and societal fabric, you can begin to see it. These radiant circles have cross-sections: your confidantes; your college friends; your life-long friends; your marathon buddies; your local industry business peers and so on. And, within each cross-section you have different degrees or intensities of influence.  No matter who you are or how you handle and work with it. This visual representation of these concepts was also crystal clear.

I've found myself in a few discussions recently about getting the market to distinguish between influence and popularity -- and getting us away from our reliance on popularity scoring, which is a mis-leading practice. Recent studies out of "Altimeter Group" and others take a look at the disservice we've been doing ourselves by using the wrong definition of influence and not spending enough time examining true influence -- and distracting ourselves with scoring and the systems that deliver those scores. Influence is something to behold and work with -- learning and benefitting our brands through the authenticity, passion, reach, resonance and even velocity projected by individuals into their spheres of influence. So, if we take a deep breath and embrace the additional concept shared by Adams -- we realize that true influence comes in all shapes and sizes, opening up options. As we develop strategies to study and parlay the influence and messaging we see happening at scale in our marketplace around our brands -- we may also be able to tap into smaller additive spheres of influence everywhere. We all live in networks and leverage our relative influence. It seems essential that we embrace this thought and consider how we work with not only assertive, deep influence -- but even the more passive varieties, that are still very real and constant all around us.

One Response to “Influence Clarified: We All Live in Networks”

  1. Kendall,
    Love the post and couldn't agree more. I wrote a similar post for AdAge recently titled, "Why Influencer Marketing is not about 'Influencers'". Here is the post, would love to share thoughts.

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