Social influence is among the current topics of conversation and again, bloggers are treading similar waters and their combined thoughts creating something that is greater than the some of its parts.
What is influence?
Talk in the past has revolved around what an influencer actually is. Do the A-List bloggers have more influence? Are they still relevant? From my perspective anyone can be an influencer, it all comes down to the scope of your own individual influence.
There are no hard and fast rules, although measuring social influence may give us guidelines. What may influence one person may not influence another so, to use advertising as an example, you either have multiple methods (TV, radio, magazines) or go for the most bang for your buck based on market research. It comes down to working out the best way to influence any given demographic and, conversely, realising how your target demographic is actually influenced.
The web has changed the nature of influence with the introduction of obscure, viral campaigns which get people talking and trying to figure out what it's all about before the big reveal; the problem is that this type of influence only affects a portion of the population - those who are already clued up, web savvy and most likely to jump in with both feet.
The question being asked now is: how do we go beyond those who "get it" and start to teach those who don't or those who have not even been exposed to the thing to "get"? We're talking about niche products and services going mainstream and new ideas becoming a part of the global consciousness.
Shey Smith calls for us all to become social media interpreters rather than evangelists. Instead of harping on about how great services are we really need to begin breaking them down and really explaining the benefits that they can provide, using simple language to explain how and, more importantly, why things work to those who may not readily understand.
Mark Dykeman of the Broadcasting Brain followed up on my post "Life by social media rules" and went on to discuss the nature of role models and the part they play. Role models are perfect examples of influencers in action; kids will always emulate their favourite sports star, dress like a pop star and buy products advertised by film stars - it's all part of the learning experience and the road to becoming your own person. The twist with mark's post, however, is that he argues the existence of different types of role model based on the method of exposure and sphere of influence.
The Role Model 3.0 - as he calls it - is a result of the boom in social media (blogs included). They are the big voices, the people we all follow on Twitter, the ones with the creative personalities and the big ideas. The idea, however, should only be the beginning.
The real value is in the discussion, one post, thought or service may be the catalyst but it’s what comes after that counts. The old saying goes that two heads are better than one but what about ten heads, a thousand, a million? The more people that can be engaged the better and if those people are from different walks of life, cultures, mindsets etc. then better still. The geek echo chamber will normally just go round in circles but when you get someone in from the outside with a totally different view it stirs things up and can get people thinking in ways that hadn’t previously considered.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention and throughout history some of the finest ideas have come from challenges both for survival and to the intellect. We too need to be challenged to take the conversation further, be forced to come up with new ideas and re-address those we already subscribe to. What better way than by forcing ourselves to explain what we do and why we do it to those who don't know.
Just think about when you tell a child something and they just say "why?" - that's the position we're in now with those who don't use social media and the answer "because" won't cut it.
Following on from what I said previously about pushing ourselves in to new areas and connecting with people, why not bring those people back with us so that they can do things that they didn't consider? In this way we can all be role models.
What will you do?