Social media influence scores really do get under people’s skin

Interesting observations on social media and influence measurement today.

I had a hand in a post which FINALLY took to task the speakers employed for Australian and New Zealand social media conferences/seminars/events.

A client finally said I’ve had it with turning up to these events only to find out the presenters have no clue about social media strategy…

And put together a scathing report on pretenders who are branding themselves as social media experts.

The embarrassing thing was that several presenters at one recent Aussie social media event began with a disclaimer that they didn’t actually use or understand social media…

…silence… (I paid how much for insights from these people?)…

I kid you not!

But the really intriguing thing I found was the reaction to the post.

Here is a basic summary of how it went:

The client who is really influential (in the true sense of the word) in marketing, advertising, strategy, thought leadership, wrote a post decrying the social media for dummies efforts of the presenters at this conference and others and expressed concern that these people were “sold” (yes, tickets cost money) as “social media experts”.

The presenters either had no social media authority – whether or not you put credence in influence measurement tools – or had no real insights into social strategy beyond the “engage, have conversations, this tech stuff is scary because you can get burnt” shitty cliches that we have heard a million times before.

There was no hashtag for the conference, almost none of the presenters were on Twitter, and the colour by numbers instructional stuff was so embarrassing that a number of people left after the first session.

My contribution was simple:

If you are paying money to learn from these people they better have something to say and they better be able to walk the talk.

So, how do you evaluate their social media credentials?

1. Gmail and rapportive – add rapportive to your Gmail account and take a look at their social media profiles. Use “their name @ their company dotcom” to check this out.

Oh… there don’t seem to be any social media profiles (or very few)

2. The classic Vanity search: type their name plus social media into Google and see what comes up. If the whole front page isn’t social profiles, blog posts and trade press they have no digital footprint and no authority to be presenting – yes I’m tough on this one because ignoring SEO is a mortal sin in my book.

3. The dreaded influence scores! Klout, Kred, PeerIndex – now this is particularly polarising. People in marketing absolutely hate the fact that some online algorithm could be giving them a score based on their popularity or effectiveness.

And this is where it gets interesting

The post goes live and guess where the antagonism hits.

Klout and influence scores

Twitter follower numbers

The first two pissed off comments call out influence scores because “Taylor Swift is influential according to these crap systems”

Hey, Taylor Swift is influential in pop music – she does not have to threaten your pathetic online marketing scores…

The other awesome excuse is that the people who are doing great social media work for their clients may not have time to build their own social media authority.

Hey, I know what you are saying!

It takes time and effort for me to keep producing content, sharing and interacting online.

But I do


This is how we do…

Wake up!

These presenters obviously don’t do!

And the angry, righteous (and often anonymous) objectors who feel that their very essence is being challenged, because someone wants some level of transparency or accountability from so-called experts, need to take a good hard look at their own efforts.

Back to the cliches

“Anyone can buy 1000 Twitter followers for 20 bucks”

Yes, that is true.

But if you dare suggest that my 4 years of hard work on Twitter:

  • consistently providing great, useful info from the best blogs in the world
  • responding to all people that talk to me (except obvious robospam)
  • building relationships with people all over the globe and sharing their stuff or promoting who they are
  • inviting my international audience to meet some of my tentative NZ people
  • sharing our content (you will never see a call-to-action from us that involves selling something)

(to complete that sentence) … is in any way spammy. automated, bot-driven then you better wake up.

Yes, my following is 34,000 plus

And I am proud of the results of my hard work.

But most of the thought leaders I follow have much larger followings than that – does that make the industry leaders spammy or is that just reserved for the antipodean cringe?

Jeff Bullas has got to be a spammer, and Darren Rowse… and…

The new marketing paradigm is super threatening for people who are not prepared to embrace “agile”.

And some of what agile means scares the shit out of me…

One swift algorithm change from Google could mean multiple strategy shifts for our clients. And for me, the worrying thing is that – web developers, web designers, marketers, IT, PR, really don’t give a f*#k!

And I think this is the crux of the complacency and the fear we are seeing.

It is much easier to feign understanding and authority by using the tried and true buzzwords of the last few years than it is to actually gain an understanding of this fast moving and  hugely valuable arena.


Content strategy?



Web copy structure?

Social media optimisation?

The complexity of all of these requirements make most people in traditional marketing a little uncomfortable…

And sometimes that is reflected in anonymous comments…

Or you could comment on our client post…

But hey they ask for your real name and that takes balls!

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