Embrace the noise – its where the influence is
A parting post for 2009.
I was recently sent this by Influencer50, an organisation in the business of influencer marketing. It makes some interesting points about failures in on-line influencer measurement and the many organisations claiming to have offerings in this area. However, this report itself fails because it falls into the same trap as many of those approaches it is also criticising – namely the belief that influence is all about “screening out the noise” and finding the “needles in the haystack”.
That was the way influence was organised. What the social media revolution is doing is shifting influence away from institutions and individuals even, into the processes of connection that are generated within a crowd of individuals. Far from being screened out, the noise is what we should be looking at because it is where influence is moving towards. Expertise will no longer remain the preserve of experts – as James Surowieki has shown in his book “The Wisdom of the Crowds” (a book that is not explicitly about social media, but is essential reading if you want to understand social media).
Bad news for Influencer50, obviously, because its business is set-up around identifying a small number of influential individuals and connecting with them off-line. It’s why, in a recent blog post, one of the report’s authors states that, “Frankly, I think there’s a lot of tosh and assertion on the importance of social media in influence”. A sutiable epitaph for this organisation’s tombstone I feel, for this is not an organisation that will be around in five or 10 years time. Of course, social media doesn’t excert influence when you have determined in advance the rules through which influence must be excerted (i.e. through individuals and institutions). But when you realise that the rules of influence are changing, and when you look at influence as a process not a person, and when you realise that this is being driven by the social media revolution – then the picture starts to look very different.
So an exhortation for 2010 – embrace the noise, celebrate the “Pointlesss Babble”, revel in the “endless narcisism of the blogosphere”. It’s where the future is.