What is Influence in Social?

McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the business consulting giant, has just published a lengthy study on “unleashing value and productivity through social technologies.” The short version is that things like improved communication and collaboration from social media in four major business sectors could add $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in value to the economy.

This is huge! And you are in the center of it, so we are and everyone, including organizations. Now with so much happening, researchers and organizations are confused in finding out ways to gain the maximum mileage out of it. Everyday, new and innovative plans come to get more ‘likes’ on the FB page or to get more followers on the twitter account.

With lists like 50 women you must follow or top 10 companies on twitter are not new! But do followers on twitter mean influence? Nah!

Meeyong Cha’s Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy posits that indegree (the number of people who follow a user) represents a user’s popularity, but is not related to other important notions of influence such as engaging audience, i.e.,retweets and mentions. Retweets are driven by the content value of a tweet, while mentions are driven by the name value of the user.

So what this tell us? Are we confused? Of course we are and especially the organizations who are spending billions of dollars to get those likes and follows just to feel more secure. A false sense of security.

Before Facebook came, Orkut was the ‘big’ thing in India. But Facebook wiped out Orkut by the first quarter of 2010. So what happened? Why it happened?

Facebook and Orkut in India

Lady Gaga has most number of followers in the world – does that guarantee that her next album will be a hit? If not, does that mean followers do not contribute to your success – of course they do, but confusing following with influence is a sin. A cardinal sin

Get your followers, but be original – your influence is your value add and not the number!


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