It’s been just over a year since my last post on influence, but a couple of very interesting articles, and a few advances and observations makes this a good time to visit the subject. I am in touch with both the custodians of my influence these days – Klout and PeerIndex, and like to experiment with them. (the rise in Klout a few days back is the result of one such :) ) They are obviously in early stages, which is probably why I think they can be gamed, despite their stout denials, and also why Klout considers me ‘influential’ on the topic of lottery. (thankfully Pakistan has been removed now)

What I did find a bit disconcerting was the usage of these scores in brand strategy/promotions. (relevant link at the end of the post) The basic thought here is to identify ‘influencers’ and engage them for various purposes – from product design to communication, advocacy etc. Not a bad thought in itself, but I wonder if it is way too early in the evolution stage to try this out, because there are way too many variables, including trust, involved and many of them have probably not even been acknowledged, let alone tracked and measured.

The consumer decision making process is itself undergoing massive shifts thanks to an ever increasing slew of communication platforms and services, which allow consumers to speak to brands, and other consumers, and has mechanisms for rapid and wide spread. For example, I saw an interesting perspective, which replaced the traditional funnel with a ‘consumer decision journey’ and discussed the need for changes in the brand’s approach so that different functions can be better aligned.

For a different perspective, take a look at this presentation (via Vijay Sankaran)

It makes a good case of why algorithms and ready made dashboards may not be the best solution possible to even finding the ‘right’ ‘influencers’. The way I see it, the current social platforms are only portion of the data, and there are going to be many more layers and sources. (earlier post ‘Data beyond Social‘)

But even though many, including myself, would agree to the observations in the presentation, the ways to scale it are still blurred because I’d say the human component still has a major role. But that might be something that will change in the longer term. In the short-medium term, considering the $ spent on many a media blitz, a better allocation of $ resources – into collecting and then converting the data deluge to actionable information – is what is warranted.

until next time, influence shell

The promised link: Involver is a platform that has partnered with Klout to allow brands to “interact with and reward fans on Facebook based on their Klout score” (via)

Bonus Reads: Resolving the Trust Paradox, and Prem’s post on ‘social’ in the buying process.