Influence THIS! Why influence scores don’t matter for your Social Media ROI

Many social media marketers are struggling with measurement: they want to connect social media activity to the revenue they’re driving. It’s tough, though! Unless the path from social media activity is straight and direct (not the case for many sales cycles), it’s pretty hard to track successful, revenue-driving social media activity.

As a result, many of us are banking on the idea that the more eyeballs, fans, followers, RTs, Likes we get, the better the chance that someone will buy from us.  It’s the basic principle of word-of-mouth marketing: the more people out there hearing our brand’s message, especially if they hear it from an influential source, the more likely we are to sell something. We’ve become obsessed with so-called social media “influencers”: those with a large following, who can secure thousands of RTs with a single tweet and whose blog posts get shared, re-shared, and responded to in countless other posts.

Influence score EyeballHowever, those influencers are often popular not because of an ability to drive the masses to buy a product or service like your company’s, but because they’re celebrities.  Services like Klout and Kred have attempted to put a number (a social media influence score) on the degree of influence we all have in social media by tracking how many people are engaging with us or whether our posts cause a viral reaction.

None of this matters, though, if the general population isn’t your target audience.

These “influencers” may be talking to millions, but of those millions, most won’t care what your brand is or what you sell. A tweet or Facebook post from someone with a high Klout score probably won’t get you many extra sales unless that person is someone whose audience cares about the same things your company cares about. Justin Bieber might have almost 30 million Twitter followers, but 30 million teenage girls aren’t going to hop online and buy your project management software or register for your “Yoga After 60” workshop.

Klout has tried to solve this problem with the concept of +K for users on topics they deem them to be influential in, but as many users have noted, the topics Klout chooses as what you’re influential in are often wildly inaccurate (it gets some of mine right, like “online media” and “community”, but I’m hardly an expert or an influencer when it comes to “electricity” or “the Royal Wedding”). If I were trying to sell t-shirts with Prince William and Prince Kate on them, Klout might tell you I’m a natural target – which in reality, couldn’t be further from the truth.

While Klout understands that being influential about a particular topic is what really matters for marketers looking for social media ROI, their scoring system isn’t the best way to get there. For now, those scores aren’t easily translated into sales. What matters isn’t a quantifiable score determined by statistics, but rather a knowledge of what your customers and potential customers are into (determined by hand or using really smart software) and finding out who matters to them!

If you want your company or your brand to achieve real social media ROI, the key is being relevant, trustworthy, and sharing a genuine interest in the same things your potential customers do.

Elisabeth Michaud
Elisabeth is a Social Media Marketing & Community Manager at uberVU, a tool that allows social media marketers to act strategically and to complete daily social media tasks more easily. Based in Boston, Elisabeth is a self-proclaimed social media geek passionate about brands, community, food and wine. Follow Elisabeth on Twitter @emichaud or, by day, @ubervu, or check out some of her additional thoughts on the uberVU blog.
Elisabeth Michaud
Elisabeth Michaud

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