The importance of Influence in the digital/social world


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Clout ?klau?t

Definition of CLOUT

dialect chiefly British : a piece of cloth or leather : rag
: a blow especially with the hand; also : a hard hit in baseball
: a white cloth on a stake or frame used as a target in archery
: pullinfluence  <political clout>

It used to be that the folks with the broadcast medium (TV, print, etc. traditional media) and high connections (socialites) used to be considered ‘influential’ because they could either make an opinion popular and thus gain clout or they could make decision makers sway towards their view point. Hollywood (or their Indian counterparts), sports & other celebrities would ride on their popularity and they would be considered ‘influential’ too.

However, now with the proliferation of social media where everybody has access to broadcast media, the influence of hetherto unknown people has gained attention of brand marketers and PR agencies; and to some extent the customer service/suppot groups manning the social channels.

These people are popular because of their huge fan followings – be they be twitter follower count, facebook fan page count, youtube/blog subscriptions, slideshare views/downloads or linkedin connections – they could be anyone from a moonlighting agency person creating extremely viral youtube ads in response to contests from brands to a teenager writing vampire romance in episodes & self publishing on sites like Wattpad.

And the need to figure out the influence of a person on social media has been addressed (how adequately/accurately is a different matter) by some of the new startups like and which have debatable (and indeed debated) algorithms for measuring the ‘influence’ score of people on twitter, facebook, etc.

I am as yet undecided on the accuracy/adequacy of these scores. However I think there might be a need for such services, albeit peculiar in approach to each industry. And also that the algorithms might have to be treated differently.

What are your thoughts regarding such ‘influence’ metrics? Have you tried these new scores for your business? How do these scores impact your business? Would you be interested to mix them with the traditional customer metrics?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Prem Kumar Aparanji
SCRM Evangelist @ Cognizant. Additional knowledge in BPM, QA, Innovations, Solutions, Offshoring from previous roles as developer, tester, consultant, manager. Interested in FLOSS, Social Media, Social Networks & Rice Writing. Love SF&F books. Blessed with a loving wife & a curious kid. :)


  1. Hi Prem,

    “And indeed debated” – very true. I’ve read a host of blog posts on Klout lately, and wrote one myself about the place it may fill in social shopping strategies ( ). I’m ambivalent as to the effectiveness of an index that measures influence and spits out a single numerical score.

    I’m reminded of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point” (2002), where he talks about mavens, connectors, and salespeople, who have an influence that can turn trends viral (although I don’t think he uses that word). I think social media does make it more possible to identify those people, but not this way. It’s like atomic physics and the electron – the act of observing (or measuring) something alters the nature of the thing being observed (or measured). When influence is a metric, it’s useless, because people know they’re being watched and rewarded for being “influential.”

    I think companies need to define the types of influence they want to measure, identify ways to measure it, and then keep it private.


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