My experience on the new site miio over the last several days has opened my eyes to what a difference terminology can make. The social psychologists refer to this form of cognitive bias as “framing”; the idea is that initial context will shape all following perceptions, experiences and behavior.
Twitter was built around the idea of “followers”. And given the ego-boost that comes from feeling that you’re building a devoted following, is it any surprise that the most important measure around social media became “influence”? In the case of Twitter, in the minds of many, this seems to have far too often been understood as a euphemism for “importance”.
Now, with the mercenary nature of influence-mongering exposed by the Fast Company Influence Project, the conversation has been shifted from influence to trust…
There is a massive amount of social science literature on trust, which will hopefully create some basis for the ensuing social media marketing gurus’ discussions on the topic.
For me, from a pop-sociology standpoint, the Tipping Point gives a great launching point for thinking about influence and trust.
Connectors are people with potential influence by virtue of their reach. They can get messages out far and wide, but may lack deep knowledge of issues, or persuasiveness. Reach alone does not establish influence or trust.
Mavens have the in-depth knowledge that leads to credibility, which is the most key aspect of trust. But mavens may not have influence as their circles can be small (specialized), or may not be especially persuasive (shoe-gazing).
Good salesmen create influence through liking and empathy, but they often need 3rd party credibility to establish trust, and the connections of others to exert their influence.
Gladwell points out that all tipping points, big or small, need all 3 types of people. Influence and trust emerge through interactions between people, and outcomes based on influence and trust are almost always the result of a team with mavens, connectors and salesmen, and not from the influence of a single individual.