Understanding Online Influence in Content Creation

 Klout and other analytics track your onilne influenceThere’s a big push to understand the so-called “paradox of online influence,” especially in the content marketing world, but first we should define what online influence is and how it works. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.

Facebook Influence

To start to figure out influence, first you should look into your engagement figures, but which tools are right for the job?

If you’re on Facebook, the site already has a great, easy-to-use analytics tool built right into it that tracks reach. These tools are linked to Facebook’s Edgerank system, which is the algorithm that places your posts in followers’ news feeds. Facebook essentially uses Edgerank to filter in good posts and filter out spammy posts. The downside of the Edgerank system can bee seen in the recent change to the algorithm, tweaking it in a way that favors in-site text-based posts and shuns posts with links out of the Facebook site – a relatively big turnaround for the social media site that once touted a Like button on nearly every page on the internet.

Contrary to popular belief, this shift wasn’t to push the paid “Promote Posts” feature on Facebook users, but rather to build a sort of social media optimization within the site. The way to build up your reach – and by extension your online influence – is to build content that is more sharable.

Building Klout

Another social media tool to consider, and this will be old news for many in content marketing, is Klout. Many have gone to Klout for information on how their various social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and more, are influencing people around them, but how reliable is the tool?

Many experts are divided on the validity of an analytic tool like Klout, pointing out that the tool tends to favor sites and social media presences that have to do with entertainment over other sectors of the working world. That said, even locations like the Baltimore Aquarium have embraced the tool, actively working to build up their Klout score as a part of their social media policy.

A good piece of advice is to look at your Klout score, but to simply consider it as one piece of your analytics puzzle. No tool is perfect and, luckily, no one has to rely on just one tool to figure out all of their analytics. Make Klout a part of your overall strategy, not the sole keystone of the whole thing.

Charting the Numbers

As it turns out, even figuring out the exact influence that your content had online is difficult. Charting that kind of data is relatively hard. What are your variables? How do you establish a control? Sadly, the internet is devoid of an “I was influenced!” button, so analytic engineers have had some trouble crunching that particular set of numbers.

Mashable divided the concept of online influence into three categories: Brand, Expertise, and Trust.

  1. Brand – What is your personal brand and how does that brand effect your readers/viewers/players/etc? As Micah Baldwin is quick to point out, “Google does not provide a definition for personal branding but provides 48 million results on the topic.” How your personal brand works and what it means to those paying attention might be a great intangible, but it can essentially be charted by your work online. What is your footprint on the web in terms of content? What have you written, posted, blogged, vlogged, etc? What has been your message?
  2. Expertise – What do you know and how good are you at communicating that knowledge? Creating the illusion of knowledge is relatively easy, but actually having the knowledge to back up your message and brand can help to gain the third, and maybe most important, component of measured influence.
  3. Trust – Do your readers trust you? Are you reliable? Knowledgeable? On message? Building a trust between yourself and your readers is a big component of online influence. Seeing who returns to find out what you have in store next, through analytics or even repeat commenters, can show what influence your work is having on your intended audience.

While influence itself might be intangible, your work to improve it doesn’t have to be. Know your message. Build your brand. Establish trust. With these ideas behind you, you’ll be making friends and influencing people in no time!

What have you done to improve your online influence?

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Michael is a graduate of New York University’s Film and Television program. He specialized in writing, channeling a passion for storytelling, no matter the medium. In addition to his work at CEM, Michael primarily works in web content production, including projects like Geek Crash Course, a geek-educational series, the Ansible, a comics-based interview show, live performance series The Next Lab Sessions, and many more. In addition, he’s written and edited for the digitally distributed Champion! Magazine.

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