I loved this post from Josh McHugh which I've 'clipped' in its entirety. I think that many of us who have lived through the frenzied first years of the social media revolution can empathise with the message here. Yes, we all want to be influencers, but for the majority (including me), we have to be content with being 'Nobodies'. But, taking the concept of the 'long tail', there are many millions of nobodies out there, which collectively can have as much (if not more) influence than the 'names'. (Stephen Fry eat your heart out!). You just need to find and nurture them.
Apart from which, Kawasaki's new book (Enchantment) is now top of my reading list!
I recently interviewed Guy Kawasaki at an event hosted by INFORUM at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club.
I’d heard from an entrepreneur the previous week at South by Southwest that Kawasaki is an absolute terror when you’re pitching him, so I was pleasantly surprised when he turned out to be as genial a guy as you could hope to interview.
Kawasaki’s new book, Enchantment, contains a lot of wonderfully anti-Machiavellian advice not just for entrepreneurs, but for nonprofits and pretty much anyone hoping to get the kinds of things done in life that require the cooperation of others. The pearl of wisdom underlying the entire book: “Be a mensch.”
But the section of the book that had me underlining, circling, and festooning its margins with post-it notes comes where Kawasaki deftly unhorses a marketing orthodoxy that has launched a million PowerPoint decks, a thousand marketing plans, and scores of recent startups: “Engage the Influencers.”
Kawasaki’s counterpunch: “Nobodies Are The New Somebodies.”
This is not likely to be a welcome message to the marketers and would-be audience-builders currently scrambling to throw enticements at Twitter users with high influence scores.
Social Media Influence Scores: Return of the Velvet Rope
One big problem with an approach that focuses disproportionately on established online influencers: there may have been 5 minutes at the dawn of Web 2.0 when you stood a solid chance of Robert Scoble or Ashton Kutcher replying to one of your tweets. But that moment has passed. You can ask Ben Stiller. Just don’t bother asking him over Twitter.
Hanging your marketing strategy on getting retweeted by the likes of Kanye and Rainn Wilson is like pasting a Powerball ticket to the first page of your business plan. Because guess what? Those influencers are busy – converting the hard-earned attention of their thousands or millions of followers into cold hard cash.
“You still have to pay someone to suck up to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal,” Kawasaki said. “But you should also be sucking up to Lonelyguy15.” That’s because you never know who will end up becoming your project’s most impassioned and effective cheerleaders. Indeed – to cover his bases, Kawasaki sent advance copies of his book not just to the 100 or so usual traditional media gatekeepers, but also to 1,500 bloggers, Tweeters, and other assorted “nobodies.”
Heresy, perhaps, to a generation of marketers steeped in the sociological topology frequently ascribed to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.It may be unfair to Gladwell, but for better or worse his book popularized the notion that success in marketing depends on identifying a relatively tiny group of key influencers in any given sphere and winning them over.
Past Results Do Not Guarantee Future Performance
For theoretical validation, Kawasaki looks to sociologist Duncan Watts, author of “Everything Is Obvious” and, recently, co-author of a wonky, mythbusting research paper titled “Everyone’s An Influencer.” The gist of that paper: a person’s past success in causing actions on Twitter is a bad predictor of future success, and it’s probably not worth your time and effort to try to court the historically influential users.
The alternative approach that Kawasaki embraces: spend your time reaching out to a larger number of hoi polloi – those “nobodies,” and identify and nurture the most valuable members of your audience as they emerge. They will love you for it.
…focusing efforts to boost scores is as shallow as it is restricted. If you invest in the value of the community and seek to improve the experiences of those to whom you’re connected, your influence and presence is in turn symbolic of something that escapes a number.
As Kawasaki puts it, “enchantment is a process, not an event.”
Solis’ prescription: listen well, be consistent and generous with attention and recognition, connect people with content that interests them, and you will gradually create a thriving fanbase around your cause or project. Trying to game someone’s influence-scoring system or to use it as a shortcut is simply short-sighted, because influence scores, while instructive, are trailing indicators, not predictors.
Create Your Own Influencers
Read more at blogs.forbes.com
This process-heavy reality may seem like bad news for those who hoped influence scores would be their social media silver bullet. But there is a silver lining. It turns out that celebrating your project’s most enthusiastic fans regardless of their influence scores and making them the stars of the community has the flattering (though ancillary) side effect of – you guessed it – eventually raising the influence scores of everyone involved.