Monday, March 7, 2011

You're doing it wrong - The myth of influence

There are lots of people, false prophets of social media that will tell you how to gain clients and influence through twitter. They have certain concepts that they parrot off as if they were speaking the gospel truth but many of these principals are at best flawed and at worst outright damaging to your twitter experience.

I would like to break down these false truths so that you can see them as they are. Naked in the street, surrounded by their followers who can't seem to realize that the emperor has no clothes.

Myth 1: The Follow back
Most false prophets will tell you to follow back everyone who follows you. While I can appreciate this from a specific honor system angle this is not good for a quality standpoint. Not everyone who follows me is going to provide quality content or information. I consider twitter to be a battle of wits and the people I follow to by my army and I refuse to go into combat unarmed.
Myth 2: Followers = influence
While it is true that having a large quantity of followers can help you to amplify your message but let me ask you, if you have 11,000 followers, how influence are they? Does anyone really care if they retweet your message? I recently saw an account with 11,000 followers (most likely added through a commercial service) that had a Klout score of 65. While Klout is not everything, it is still a tool. I like to say that Klout won't tell you what you are, but it can tell tell you where are. I only have 400 some followers and a Klout score of 61, you be the judge.
Myth 3: You need a professional
A lot of prophets will tell you that you need a professional for whatever it is you are trying to do, improve your resume, increase your influence, whatever. I disagree. While there are times when a professional will be able to do things you don't have the necessarily technical skill to do, I wholeheartedly believe that I would rather have a highly motivated amateur than a bored professional. There is nothing that you can't do yourself given enough motivation and study.
Whenever someone asks me what they need to do in order get more twitter followers I always tell them to be more interesting, after all, people follow interesting people. I know I do. In the whole business of social media there is only ONE buzz word that has any value.


Engage with your followers, engage with those you follow, by engaging with high profile and high influence twitter denizens you can help to amplify your own message.  You do have a message right? You don't? Oh, well then you are doing it wrong.

Find me on Twitter @robertheadley


  1. Great advice Robert. 400 followers and a @klout score of 65 speaks pretty loudly you have influence and share valuable content.

  2. 61 but yeah, but 65 with 11k followers means almost no engagement. I don't follow anyone without any replies or mentions, or anyone that is only replies and mentions will only follow a RT only account if they are good retweets. Enagement and voice, that is what you need on twitter.

  3. Influence is such a subjective concept, so it always concerns me when a one off metric like number of followers is used as the only basis for judgement. Good call there, Robert, and your myths raise some interesting debates on Twitter approach.

    I like to follow as many people back as possible if they choose to follow @AboveTheStatic. I try to sense check quickly so: 1) not bots/twitterfeeds (unless 100% relevant + not on overload), 2) not posting or profile says nothing, and 3) not selling with every other tweet. My take is that everyone outside those types could potentially be interesting to me and I'd like to allow that serendipity into my main stream. To focus in on specific interests, I can use lists and hashtags to filter down.

    True influence? I think it's like cream and rises to the top. You notice those that consistently show up, post quality links and get involved with others. That's how I keep seeing your tweets/posts, which speaks to your influence far more than an isolated score, to my mind. It doesn't need saying but keep on keeping on!

  4. I agree with your twitter philosophy, and mostly ascribe to it myself as well. Your points are very clear, and I absolutely believe in your solution, Engage! Be interesting. If you find your voice in social media, you will become popular with people looking for the subject matter you are talking about.

    Thank you for stating your position, and in doing so helping others learn from you. Nice post man.

  5. I have to admit that I'm a "promiscuous follower" and will pretty much chat with anyone at any time. Twitter has become my water cooler -I dip in when I'm thirsty and there is always someone there to engage with. I may have a bunch of followers but what I truly strive for is a little dose of humanity each day. Somehow I've managed to make a few meaningful connections that have translated into real life friends but I know that's rare. If I can add some value to others along the way, it's a win. As for needing a professional - couldn't agree more - most people on Twitter are nice enough to spare a minute and show you the way. it's how I learned, and I'm more than willing to pass it on.

  6. Robert, as usual you are SPOT ON. Not only have you debunked the myths of many, "cited" "experts," you've proven that it's all about what you BRING TO THE TABLE. I love this. Proud to follow you!