I apparently am on a tear with blog posts. This is my third today. I have one more in my head, but I think I will hold it for another day.

I was having lunch with my friend Tom Chikoore of FiltrBox last Monday. Tom is a CTO and has an unique view of the world (which he displays on his blog now and again. Post more Tom!)

At Web 2.0 Expo, which I was lucky to attend as a blog partner, there was a session entitled: Finding Influence: Design Patterns for Smarter Crowds, put on by Gregor Hochmuth.

Here is the slide deck:

As I watched the first dozen or so slides go by (its 101 slides – mostly single sentences or pictures) I kept thinking to myself “Thats Lijit!”

You see, at Lijit we are spending a lot of time thinking about influence and trust. How do people discover and filter content now that there are billions upon billions of pages out on the web? I have done a couple speaking engagements where I discuss just this fact.

Take a moment to check out Gregor’s presentation. Take a moment to check out mine. Take a moment to think about how you personally are influenced.

Tom’s company, Filtrbox focuses on discovery and filtering data and delivering that data to its end users. So, you can imagine based on his work, our work at Lijit, and my discussion of this particular session at Web2.0 Expo, that the top of influence was a lively one.

Most people look at audience size as the measure of influence. For example, for these folks, the number of twitter followers is paramount in that discussion. Have 60,000 twitter followers? You are more influenctial that someone with 10,000 followers. For some, that is the single measure.

But as Gregor stated in his presentation, and as Tom and I have found through our respective companies, Audience size is really just the ability to distribute a message. Nothing more. Its the message itself that is the true measure of influence.

Our discussion shifted to my decision to keep a (version) of kosher.

“Are there any kosher resturants in Boulder,” Tom asked.

“Hell if I know,” I responded.

“Who do you ask about that?”

Which brought another measure of influence to light. If I needed an answer to a specific question, who would I ask?

For each person, that selection changes. Meaning, for each person, they potentially trust a different person to provide the answer. Each person is actually self-selecting the person they are most influenced by around that specific subject or topic.

In terms of recommendations, Google fails. Google takes the tact that there is a single right answer for every question.

For example, the search for “boulder kosher resturant” returns:

boulder-kosher* the first result goes to a dead link.

Clearly, Google has not figured out how to trump the face-to-face recommendations that occur between people. What Lijit’s take on problem? The answer depends on the publisher. There might be many answers.

What’s Filtrbox’s answer? Through “filters” the end user can whittle down the information to a consumable size, and select the best answer.

(BTW – there are no kosher resturants in Boulder. At least as far as everyone and every tool I know tells me).

Another thought about audience. Its not just the size of your audience but the your ability to effect the actions of your audience that truly is an indicator of influence. If you look at twitter, and if you ask your followers to do something (say, retweet a post), what percentage of them actually do it?

If say Chris Brogan, with his 61,600 followers got 250 of them to retweet (a 0.41% success rate) who he be more influential than if Brad Feld with his 4,954 followers got 25 to retweet (a 0.50% success rate)?

The best example of influence is when one person asked for a recommendation from another that they trust. (Influence locally)

The best use of influence is the ability to get a large number of people to test, try, use, believe, not believe, hate, avoid something (Evangelize globally).

A true influential has the following components: a large audience, that they have a positive effect on, and who is trusted by that audience to provide the right answer/direction.

After all that, I suppose the question becomes: how do you become an influential?

There appears to be a clear path:

  1. 1) be trustworthy;
  2. 2) be right;
  3. 3) be available;
  4. 4) be dependable;
  5. 5) be consistent;
  6. 6) be transparent;
  7. 7) be a listener;
  8. 8) be a doer;
  9. 9) be a giver;
  10. 10) influence locally; evangelize globally
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