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Being an influencer counts for nothing if you’re not influencing the right people

Yesterday I received a group notification through LinkedIn inviting me to follow a link to find out how influential I am, an idea being run by a Fast Company Magazine called The Influence Project.

I immediately clicked the link, entered my details, followed the instructions to use any and all of my social networks to “up my ranking”. This morning when I went to look at the link, full of hope and expectation of how good my social brand and network is, I discovered that the grand total of people I’ve influenced directly was two... slightly missing my expectations.

So what did my egotistical-jumping-whole-heartedly-into-this-online-experiment tell me and why were my expectations so wide of reality? Social media has opened the flood gates for people to vent their feelings, promote themselves and their brands and generally keep the world up to date on what they’re having for lunch that day.

But is social media the route to being influential and indeed, what does being influential actually mean these days? Clearly there are some industries and brands that are seeing huge increases in both their brand value and, in places, revenues through considered effort into a social media strategy but can a person, a brand or an organisation today only be considered influential if they have an extensive online community?

Well first up (and before anyone comments on this rather obvious point) I do believe in the power of online communities otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog. However, I believe in face to face contact more. Working in the B2B environment, my clients are never happier than when we arrange an event where they can get real face time with the right prospects that they want to speak to.

The key here is getting to the “right people”. It’s all well and good having a huge network of contacts/followers/friends but are they who you want to and need to influence? In any successful influencer programme you need to set clear objectives about who you want to influence and why. Only once those objectives are understood can you create and run a programme through the right channels to influence your target community. Additionally, only if you have clear objectives in mind can you measure the success of your programme.... or the increase in your ‘influence’.

So this morning as I shed a small tear into my cup of tea about my lack of influence, I learnt a valuable lesson – being influential means nothing if you don’t know what you want to be influential for and who you want to influence. Having said that if you do want to help out my bruised and battered ego have a look at The Influence Project yourself and help me up my ranking!