I is for influence

Common Currency

Influence.  It’s such a wonderful thing, especially as right now, online, it’s a form of currency.
From rewarding bloggers to making or breaking writing careers, influence is really important.  It is the glue that holds together the recommendation and word of mouth community and is something that everyone can build and work on.

First though…what is influence?

Influence  is a type of word of mouth based marketing that is conferred when someone ‘trusts’ recommendations from the source.  It can be as simple as your friend having the best taste and helping you choose clothes, to huge newsletters, sharing deals and ‘undiscovered books’.  We all have influence, and we all have reach.

Reach is the amount of people we can spread our influence to – your reach can be active/direct (those directly connected to you/following you/friends with you) and those that are passive/indirect – those that you reach through others.  Sites that leverage both active and passive influence are ones such as Triberr and Klout.  But you also have influence, both active and passive, from places like your blog, your Facebook page, and more.
Active are the people directly reading.  When they share, those readers also become your active/direct reach, though brought indirectly.
Clear as mud, right?
The important thing to remember is we all influence one another – I’ll read a book because Kriss or Pav recommend it.  They’ll look at a website because I’ve shared a link.  Their followers will look at the stuff they share, and on and on.

So, how do I leverage influence?

The short answer is you don’t.  Not really.  You can temporarily ‘borrow’ influence in the cases of newsletters and sites that allow advertising, but influence, genuine influence, can’t be bought.  And, as we have rules online about advertising, influence that’s bought needs to be disclaimed appropriately, which kinda negates some of the whole organic sharing vibe that word of mouth thrives on.
Levering your own influence is as simple (I say simple…) as finding what your followers are interested, and how to connect that with what you do.  Influence on other sites can be *sort of* leveraged by guest posting, sharing genuinely good information, or in some cases, buying your ad (I run a site that allows people to buy a post for example).  But the best type is genuine support, the sort that people give gladly.

Why I think influence is currency

I do genuinely believe influence is currency, simply because you can be paid to use it to recommend something.  Klout has ‘Perks’, trading your reach and influence for coupons, products and more.  Bzzagent is one that I’ve been with for a long time in the UK, and they offer everything from small samples to once, a steam Iron for much cheaper than we could get it from anywhere else.  I love that iron, btw.
And look at that.  Three years on and I’m still talking about that iron.  I’ve been influenced, and I influence others.  It all goes around and around.  The more people that follow you, the more people you can possibly ‘influence’, though remember, it’s not just about making people like what you like. It’s about engaging and sharing ideas and reaching the best solutions, best products, best services (best books) for yourself and those around you.  Be honest, sincere, and write about the stuff you love from the heart.  We all have the opportunity to share and influence, and we’ve all got people waiting to hear our opinions and share theirs.  Share your favorite books…share the ones you didn’t like too, and why.  If the internet is driven by influence, each of us should contribute our own voice.

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