How to win fake friends and influence no one

I’d like to appeal for calm… When I started working in online marketing back in the late nineties, one of the things that was stopping it becoming a mainstream activity was a lack of reliable and meaningful metrics.  These days the sophistication of some of the measurement tools available is almost mind blowing and the online advertising market has grown accordingly to be worth literally billions.

What is worth remembering though is that these tools had to start somewhere and in the early days they could only measure things that were of little use to someone marketing a product or trying to attract talent. This was a vital stage though as today’s sophistication owes its existence to these early blunt instruments. It taught me that any technology revolution will also contain a great deal of evolution. We would never have been able measure conversions, purchases, repeat purchases or job applications if we hadn’t previously conquered and disregarded measuring hits and visits!

The Social Media revolution seems to be going through a very similar evolution. Although some aspects can be measured via existing tools, quite rightly there has been a quest to measure the extra dimensions that social brings to the table. The run away winner so far is the concept of “influence”. The trouble is though the “influence” being measured (followers, retweets, link opens etc etc) currently has very little in common with actual real life influence and persuasion

Why then is this an appeal for calm and not a rant? Well if we appreciated the tools for the blunt instruments they are and as a vital first stage of the development of something actually useful, there is much encouragement.  Klout is the emerging tool of choice. It grows more sophisticated by the day, integrates usefully into a number of business tools such as email marketing software and can tell me if someone in my network is well connected. What it can’t currently tell me though is whether that will work to my advantage in terms of them actually influencing someone  to take any kind of action that might benefit my objectives.

So this is why I was utterly dismayed by the “influence” competitions that seemed to appear in our industry towards the end of last year. While it might sound impressive to be listed in the top ten recruitment “influencers” on Twitter it means absolutely nothing in the real world.  I would argue that Social Media Recruitment influence has yet to be even defined let alone measured and I bet it will have nothing to do with who sends the most tweets!

There is a very long way to go yet and now is a time for patience and open mindedness not bandwagon jumping and ego waving competitions. My message to the Klout score addicts and list junkies is a simple one - Calm down and put your egos away for now. You impress no one and you’re just going to look very stupid in the long run!