The Futility of manipulating online Influence

Recently in one of my conversations with a management trainee I got this question – ‘How do I get more fans and followers and become more influential online’. And my response to her was how about you flip the question around and make it – ‘how should you do an awesome job at whatever you have a passion for and then use social media to make you influential about it’. I have seen many people falling into the trap of cosmetics of social media like scores, followers, reach etc. but what they don’t realize is that at some point online fame will meet offline reality and it will be tested. Don’t get me wrong I am big believer in metrics and I think all influence measuring companies like Klout, Kred, Peer index are onto something big here. I am definitely not in the camp of tool bashing just because some people manage to manipulate them. That’s the very reason I want to persuade people about the futility of gaming the system.  Like any good idea ‘influence measurement’ has its loop holes and manipulating it in the long run will just prove be counterproductive and tiring to keep up with. Here’s why

Fame will need to matchup with skills & talent

I am not sure about you but I have been to conferences where some of the speakers have been invited just because of the size of their networks and when you see their content you just know that they have never worked on or with a single reputable brand on their social media efforts. The days of being just a tweeting superstar are pretty much over. You are either a celebrity like a movie star or a politician or then you are damn good at what you do as a profession to be influential. If someone hires you or uses your services just based on your social foot print, then eventually your depth of knowledge or lack of it will show right through. Remember influence is a channel that can get you into the consideration set but it will be your skill and talent that will be tested eventually.

Tools will get smarter to call out Posers

Companies that are into influence measurement understand that if someone wants to, they can manipulate the system to get better scores. They are mindful of this development, so going forward they will be constantly looking at ways to figure out how to weed out the genuine thought leaders from the ones that have put their own system in place to game the scores. Recently developments like ability to identify fake followers, bots and auto responders are already making headlines. The entire online influence industry is going to be increasingly more transparent on the scoring system and you wouldn’t want to be caught in the process with your pants down.

Manipulating any algorithm is tiring and a 24×7 job

I know quite a few people who spend every waking minute being on social just to keep their scores high, which sometimes makes me wonder how sustainable is this going to be in the long run. Hey if that’s your passion and you’re a full time curator and creator then go for it, but if that’s what you do along with your day job then something is going to give soon. Figure out an activity and frequency rate that is natural and that you can keep up with. If you get better at what you do then you will eventually get more intelligent about what you contribute on social. The organic way to grow your influence is best and the most sustainable way to do it. Don’t burn yourself out and be forced to crash out from the big league, keep a goal you can sustain.

Be good at what you do and the followers and engagement will come.

There is no real substitute for real life experience and all the wonderful things that we do in our offline worlds. The trick is to make your offline expertise and talent available to an online population who wouldn’t necessarily have access to you if it weren’t for your social foot print. Just like talented people are spotted offline, people will spot you online as well.

Remember that you can’t just stay famous for being famous, unless you are Charlie Sheen