Measuring Influence

One of the things I help clients do is figure out how we are going to measure success. For some clients and projects it’s growth in traffic, for others it’s e-commerce sales. Those are relatively straightforward to report on and there’s no shortage of metrics there. But increasingly, my clients are looking for new ways to engage with their customers and the traditional metrics don’t…quite…measure up. This is particularly true in the social media space where the interactions are numerous and vary tremendously in levels of engagement.

A recent post on Mashable caught my attention, a how-to guide on measuring online influence. It begins with a dictionary-type definition of influence followed by the requisite discussion of personal branding and what it means online. Where things get interesting is how the author dives into mathematical formulae of how to measure influence with the following equations:

Influence = (Personal Brand * Trust * Expertise)

Of course, since Expertise = (Knowledge * Trust), we can further refine the equation to:

Influence = (Personal Brand * Knowledge * Trust2)

I am all for quantifying results but how does one come to these conclusions and more importantly, how does one make these calculations? Whatever happened to integers and real values? I will agree that influence is made up of these components, but to stating it in these terms isn’t helpful nor is it actionable. Some units would be a start.

The next part of the article delves into measuring influence by looking at tings like traffic, connections, track record and so forth. All interesting and valuable metrics. But where the article falls short is defining how these are related  and what to do with the metrics. They are data points without a story to wrap them up in a logical way. They’re sort of like ingredients without a recipe; they’re all important but without knowing what to do with them, they’re just ingredients. I admire the author for putting these ideas together but at the same time, let’s be careful not to position it as a how-to guide when the step-by-step part of it is missing.

I mentioned in an earlier post that quantifying things with rigor is the way to go and in this economy, clients are increasingly expecting this. If it were easy to do, it would have already been done. There are no clearcut accepted ways of doing this yet, so I’m all ears for looking at new methodologies and approaches. Some will work, others won’t. But shying away from facing reality isn’t going to cut the mustard these days. This is something we will be hearing more and more of, so I’ll be revisiting this topic in the future.


  • AndrewC
    March 6, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I thought:

    Influence = Money + Power + Who You Know

    I assume the same applies online. đŸ˜›

  • Glynda
    March 25, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for pay per click info and your post looks very interesting for me.

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