Friday, 20 January 2012

Can you measure influence?

For the last year I have been registered with Klout, despite my concerns and worries about the whole Klout "thing", in order to try and understand what they understand about influence.  I find the whole idea of being ranked for being influential fascinating, and especially the crazy idea that you can measure someones influence through their social media activities.  It seems that Klout use the following measures to determine how influential I am:
- how many people act on my online content through likes and comments on facebook and replies on twitter
- how many people amplify my content through mentions on facebook and retweets on twitter
- how influential those who mention and retweet me are
- how large my network is, otherwise known as facebook friends and twitter followers
- how many people are members of my blogs

(I think Klout also examine LinkedIn and Google+ but I do not interact as much in those ways so I'm excluding the details of those from my analysis).

Based on the number of people who chat to me online or comment on my blogs or share my musings with their friends, I am apparently influential to a score of 58; which is apparently quite good.  But here's the really fun part; what I'm influential about and my thoughts on them:

Kindle - makes sense
Hearing - I have no idea where this comes from, unless it's hearing from God
Religion and Spirituality - good, that would make sense considering my calling and blog
Books - well I do read quite a lot and write a little
Parenting - yes, I'm a mum, but I'm not sure I like the pressure of influencing others on parenting
Church - another relief, I'm pleased I mention it a bit and it's great it might be heard
Blogging - surely that's "how" I influence, not "what"
Teaching - there's no way I'm an influencer on teaching, I just talk about it a lot
Christchurch - I think this is a mix of mentions about licensing in oxford at christchurch cathedral, and my various prayers for the city of christchurch with the earthquakes - which obviously is bad analysis
Christianity - another pretty major part of my life, I just hope I provide a good account of Christ
Daily Mail - I am a stickler for stating where I get information from and I love to rant about their articles, so perhaps I can take this as a positive that I'm influential about their poor journalism.
Flashmob - that will be all the retweets about the flashmob I organised - if only they'd all turned up
Tea - I honestly have no idea how I could be influential about tea; I don't drink it much and never talk about it
Training - oh yes, there as a huge amount of that and I blogged my way through it
Heaven - the thing I know precisely nothing about, but hopefully I'm helping people think and talk about it

and now for the real crazy one
Beauty - what????  I don't even wear makeup, I never think about beauty, I don't think I've ever mentioned it, so how can I be influential about it - mighty strange.

So there's what Klout thinks; but please, what good does this do?
How can my spread of random musings and comments be measured as influencing?

Short and simple answer; it can't!!
I might be read and heard, I might be involved in some discussion and debate, I might even kick off some thoughts; but these things are far removed from influencing.

Let's for a minute look at the meaning of "influence" from the dictionary
1. the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others: He used family influence to get the contract.
2. the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others: Her mother's influence made her stay.

I do not have power over anyone else and their thoughts or beliefs, not even Rachel these days; certainly not through my words on my blog and online.  Nor do I think that my words can effect the actions or behaviour of anyone else. 

I might agree that people reading my blog are searching for help with an issue, many searches bring people to my blog, and might use my words as one of many ways of forming opinions; but that still is not enough to be considered influencing.

To conclude
I am far from convinced that I am able to influence people; and I am pleased with that, I never set out to do so.  My hope is that my musings might interest people and start them thinking; that is my aim.  If I can influence people then I am sure it's much more likely to be in the real world where people see me, know me and love me; that is how we really might influence someone and that is something Klout can not measure.

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