What’s your measure of influence?

We all like to think that we’re not easily influenced. In these post-digital times we regard ourselves as media-savvy and don’t like being sold to. Where TV advertising used to triumph beaming brand led messages to consumers, it now fails. We don’t believe the hype anymore.

With the growth of the web, consumers began to look to each other for advice. At first in forums, and then on dedicated review sites that specialise in collating ratings for products and services. A quick web search and consumers would have honest feedback and information about a product or service.

As social networks grew they made it easier for people to replicate the conversations they would have offline, online, albeit it in a wider social group. It was natural that brand and product discussions would transfer to these networks. Who better to ask than those you trust to be your friends? Disappointing

Within a short space of time, network users meet other users they only know online but, with no frame of reference it is difficult to know who trust. Just as search engines use hundreds ranking factors to measure relevance, influence is set to become the social equivalent. Facebook and Twitter are both currently exploring the idea of influence, the former with its search functionality and the latter, with Reputation Scores for every user.

Earlier in the year Facebook patented a type of search algorithm based on the interests and likes of a users’ extended network. It is expected that this, along with the advent of the Open Graph, means that non-Facebook pages will soon appear in the network’s search results. Influence established within Facebook will begin to have implications for search outside of the network, especially if we see closer ties between Bing and the social network.

Evan Williams recently stepped down as Twitter’s CEO to focus on a new project, Reputation Scores. Evans recently announced that the company assigns a reputation score to each user on the network and in turn uses these to power its ‘Who to Follow’ formula. The scores are not yet publicly posted but, many believe will become available.

James Ryder, Account Director at Public Relations Consultants Punch Communications, commented:

“Although we talk about influence on an individual basis it will undoubtedly become important for brand owners and companies who engage online. How long will it be before Reputation are made public and users begin to think of them in terms of honesty and integrity aswell as influence? Influence is flattering on a personal level but, if I’m looking at another users tweets I’d like to know how genuine they might be. I’ll also want to know how genuine a brand or brand’s social output is, and I might use this to evaluate engaging with that brand whether that be online or in-store.”

“As we see the emergence of metrics and more importantly influence powered search, the concept of Reputation will become seen as an important development within social networks and something that brand owners should address in their online strategy.”

PR Company Punch Communications has worked with global brands on social media acquisition and engagement campaigns across a variety of social networks. For more information on Punch Communications online PR services please visit www.punchcomms.com or call +44 1858 411600.

 

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