You are here

Social Influence & The Circle of Trust

In meetings with the great socially unwashed of the B2B world, I am asked repeatedly, “Why?” Why should we participate in social media? Why should we invest the time? Why do we need to build an online community? Why Dad, why Dad, why Dad, why? Are we nearly there yet…? Etc.

The answer is, ‘influence’. We all seek to influence others in an extended business decision-making and buying process. Social media provides another opportunity to influence buyers. We are constantly seeking ways to identify, build and grow business relationships from the unknown to the known – from the prospect to the customer, from the customer to the repeat customer, from the repeat customer to the loyal customer, from the loyal customer to the brand advocate, from the knee-bone to the hip-bone… etc.

It’s all connected in business. The unique opportunity that social media provides for the B2B practitioner, is to influence the customer in a permission-based environment. I can ignore your ads. I can consign your emails to junk. Your direct mail never even reaches my desk. And your turgid repository of a website? I’ll visit that as a last resort.

In a social space, we choose to connect. We proactively follow, link, share, comment, like – we are… ‘social’. We provide content and have conversations that influence our networks in much the same way as they might influence our direct network of friends, business colleagues and customers.

We’re so taken with the potential for influence that we’ve started to keep score. There is a rash of social influence measurement tools that will happily remind you that you remain the least popular kid in the playground. Klout scores, your Peer Index rating, your Kred score all attempt to quantify and qualify your competency and influence in the social world. They give you a number on a scale of 1 to 100 or somesuch derivative and a badge is displayed next to your social account that announces to the world your success, or your humiliating failure. Loser.

I find the reality of influence more relevant than the fantasy. The reality is not a number, it’s what the number means – the impact that social influence can have directly on your day-to-day business activities. So, while a Klout score of 55 of more might gain you access to the business lounge of American Airlines, your influence, or lack of it, is most likely to have impact in areas of your business you never think about.

Marcos is one of my contacts in Brazil. He’s not a customer, or a supplier – I consider him a friend. He’s someone connected to me on LinkedIn and on Twitter and via email. We’ve even met a couple of times in London – I helped him find tickets for the 2012 Olympics when he couldn’t find any in Brazil. Marcos has a keen interest in B2B marketing and has been following my social antics for as long as I can remember. Marcos and I influence each other. We’ve never discussed it – “Dude, you really influence me…” Eww. No. But inevitably, there are people inside your social network, there are those outside and there are those with no social network at all. Marcos is inside my ‘circle of trust’ so it was no surprise when I received an email from him recently…

From: Marcos
Fwd: Join [Large Corporate], [Data Company] and [Marketing Automation Co.] at the Integrated B2B Marketing Summit

Scot – Do you know the blonde?

Begin forwarded message:

He forwarded the content of an email invitation for a webinar event that included an avatar photo and brief summary of the 3 principal speakers at the event. One of the presentations was to be on the subject of Demand Generation from the Marketing Director of a leading Marketing Automation company. I didn’t know the woman, so replied to Marcos:

From: Scot
Fwd: Join [Large Corporate], [Data Company] and [Marketing Automation Co.] at the Integrated B2B Marketing Summit

No, I don't think so.


Does she think she knows me…?


My point regarding the power of social influence is made in Marcos’s reply:

From: Marcos
Fwd: Join [Large Corporate], [Data Company] and [Marketing Automation Co.] at the Integrated B2B Marketing Summit

If you don’t know her, I am not going to bother reading her shite...

The weeks of event planning. The data profiling. The email campaign. The time spent preparing content… all blown in an instant. And the company in question didn’t even know it.

I have no doubt the event was a riotous success without Marcos. But increasingly, businesses and business people are being influenced, directly and indirectly by those connected to them in social spaces. You’re either inside my circle of trust, or you’re not. Yeah. So there. Fockers.


Scot McKee
Managing Director