The hot-button topic du jour – influence. Look to Klout scores, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, and Facebook fan page likes; yet how can one really know how influential the representative brand is being perceived?
Many social media professionals consider the two most important factors of influence to be the quality of content and the strength of network. If this is true, then the following equation should give insight as to what sort of a resultant measure of influence might be contemplated:
(CONTENT QUALITY) X (NETWORK STRENGTH) = INFLUENCE
where content quality is deemed the level of generated output being shared, published, and otherwise posted, e.g. retweets, incoming referral links, reviews, etc, as reflected by members of the social graph. This will be a qualitative assessment, and subjective in nature. Network strength can be thought of as the level of interactivity with active influencers in the social graph, and takes into consideration how many and how much; a quantitative volume, and therefore objective.
Content quality will reflect training and practice, in both academic and real-world experiences. To what extent does the social graph approve and support the productivity created? Are blog posts being mentioned on Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn? Are comments sympathetic, and in what numbers? Is the topic under wide discussion? These are all indicators of the value of the content being deliberated. As far as a variable in the equation, it’s significance will be minimal secondary to it’s idiosyncratic characteristics being open to debate and bias. Additional consideration should be given to expetise of the author and recognition of their level of authority, current position, past experience, and so forth.
Network strength is demonstrated by the numbers and purpose of the associates included in the social graph. If Guy Kawasaki, Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, and Seth Godin are all folks whose numbers are on speed-dial, it is safe to say the network strength in question has a bit of clout (no pun intended). When connections and online peers are in touch on a regular basis, and their own content is documented as being of a high quality standard, then the network has measurable strength, and becomes a calculable factor. Thus it becomes highly significant since it’s value is quantifiable.