Antony Mayfield's blog
Influence: It’s complicated
Influence: It’s complicated

Influence: It’s complicated


Image: Streams, emergence – insert your own wry analogy here…

I liked the idea that “Strength of community supersedes influence” laid out in a post by Geoff Livingston.

What the post is saying is that in many ways the community is more important than a singled-out influencer, and yet a lot of effort is expended trying to identify the influencers and then, er, influence them. And I agree with that – the networks are more important to understand, and usually less understood by everyone from media/marketing planners to policy makers.

There is influence in networks, multidirectional influence at that. It is just wrong to boil down influence to being all about influencers. There are people who are important, who can pass on a thought or idea or link to a whole lead of others, but it’s not a a predictable, simple, sustainable thing.

It makes me remember what Duncan Watts said about accidental influencers. Very often someone is made to look influential or are influential within a network because an idea, a thought has started with them.

You influence the networks you join, you are influenced by your networks, by the actions of people you know and don’t. And networks also have a mind of their own, the rule from Connected that chimes with what Geoff is saying.

Thinking about the idea of influencers in that context, it is almost as if networks choose their influencers. Or maybe that influencers are an emergent phenomenon in social networks.