Everyone likes the idea of being influential. Theoretically, being influential means you get your way more often than not. So the idea of tracking who is influential or listening to what other people tell you to do in order to be more influential are pretty popular past-times.
There are a number of different systems that will boil a bunch of online activity down and present you with some sort of score that, theoretically, indicates something about your influence online. But these things really dumb it down. Getting an index or just some raw number that is supposed to represent your influence probably isn’t accurate or helpful.
But understanding influence in a meaningful way does take some work. That’s how all the social ranking systems and other “influence indicators” work: the primary value they bring to the table is convenience.
I don’t know about you, but I think influence is important enough that convenience isn’t necessarily what I look for first. That said, I do like convenience. Here are three sort of convenient ways to track your own influence without dumbing anything down.
Start using your “favorites” button on Twitter.
I’ve written about how to use the Twitter favorites button in depth before. But let me give you the short version:
- Whenever you see something on Twitter that indicates to you that you were influential click the favorite button.
- Keep track on how many you get each week or month (or whatever time period works for you).
- Notice whether certain of your actions leads to more opportunities to use the favorites button.
The hard part here is determining “something on Twitter that indicates to you that you were influential.” This is the part that’s inconvenient. It’s also the part that someone’s black box of magic deciphering isn’t going to know.
Taking the time to work that question out is very very rewarding, both personally and professionally.
As an example, anytime anyone thanks me or indicates general happiness at something I’ve done, I hit the “favorite” button. I believe that when people thank me it’s a sign that I was influential to them, one that can’t be denied because that’s pretty much what a thank you is.
When people are generally happy or like something I’ve done, I also favorite the tweet. If someone smiled or enjoyed something I did, that was me influencing them as well.
Track influence the old school way.
Get a little notepad of paper. Keep that notepad with you. Every time someone does something that indicates to you that you were influential, make a note in that notepad. Review the notepad every now and then.
I realize this is pretty low-fi with all that dead tree stuff. But it’s nice because it’s cross-platform, cross-network and cross-‘space (works in cyberspace, works in meatspace). So you get to track all influence across all channels all the time.
If you want to get advanced on this one, set up your notebook to have room for notes about what, specifically, you were influential about. Maybe set up a column to write in what sphere your influence was manifested–home, internal work, customers, businessy people etc.
Doing this sort of tracking and reporting for yourself is going to give you a lot of useful information about what you do to generate influence and where you are most influential.
Track influence the new old school way.
If your primary desire to understand your own influence is related to your business goals, then you can use the time honored campaign-tagged URL to see which channels and messages drive the most traffic to your website.
If your web analytics package is configured to track goals, you’ll also discover which of your influential messages result in more business or website goals as well.
In terms of convenience I’ll give you the truth about this one: it’s pretty inconvenient.
But it works and is exceptionally effective at identifying where and how your influence works in relation to your business.
The truth about convenience.
Some things that are worthwhile require hard work over time. Influence is, I believe, one of those things. The reason it takes time is that you may not have any true understanding of influence at all when you begin. For example, answer the following question:
Influence is _______?
Since it’s a tricky question to answer, there is the temptation to just say “Influence is the convenient index number generated by a machine that doesn’t know me, my business or my customers.” It’s way easier than facing that blank line.
But by doing so, you are denying yourself the experience to consider and understand what influence really is. When you do expend a little hard, honest effort over a period of time you may come to a better understanding of yourself, your customers and your business.
Don’t dumb that down.