There is a an ongoing contest right now that recognizes Philippine social media users. Known as the “Tatt Awards”, it is composed of 10 categories honoring those who made remarkable impact on the local social media landscape. The Tatt Awards search for the best of the best from the 30th of June until its main event on August 26, 2011 (the program period) through the process of nominations, screening, judging and public voting. The voting started since August 10 and ends on August 24.
The process of selection looks innovative with 70% content , 20% popularity and 10% voting as the final score of the winner. It appears that popularity and voting does not make up most of the votes.
What is really important in social media anyway? Is it popularity or influence?
Influence is not Popularity and popularity is not influence.
Brian Solis states that “In social media, influence has taken center stage”. He recently examined the definition of influence in a new report, “Influence is Bliss: The Gender Divide of Influence on Twitter.” While the study evaluated the distribution and level of influence by gender on Twitter, it opened with a review of what influence is and isn’t.”
There’s a clear delineation between influence and popularity and it’s important to understand that in social networks, influence is not derived by the quantity of followers, friends, clicks, or “likes.” Nor is it discernible by the frequency of which one participates in their respective communities. While these serve as indicators of influence, they are not necessarily constant factors in its quantification.
There appeared to be a confusion between influence and popularity as shown by Fast Company’s explicit intent, “Searching for 2010?s most influential person online.” “The dilemma here is that this project is not rooted in measuring the effects of influence at all; it simply measures the clicks as a result of how well someone campaigns for votes. ”
It simply is a measure of reach. Influence is much more related to trust and reputation than reach. When someone gets a lot of vote, does it mean they are influential or that they have more reach of followers?
The Biggest Difference Between Popularity and Influence
Solis further adds that “there’s a clear delineation between influence and popularity and it’s important to understand that in social networks, influence is not derived by the quantity of followers, friends, clicks, or “likes.” Nor is it discernible by the frequency of which one participates in their respective communities. While these serve as indicators of influence, they are not necessarily constant factors in its quantification.”
If you have a lot of traffic, you naturally have a lot of influence, right? Wrong. Influence involves more than numbers. It involves your ability to influence outcomes, actions, and opinions.
Let us see some more points of views:
Confusing popularity and influence is easy to do on the surface. Influential people often become popular. But it doesn’t mean the same thing the other way around. (Becky Johns )
The town crier tells you the news, but he doesn’t make any of the policies. He’s not influential at all, even though a lot of people ACT because of what he tells them. He’s merely the messenger.. A vehicle. (Bill Cammack)
Study after study and anecdote after anecdote has surely demonstrated that follower counts do not equal popularity do not equal influence. . (azeemazhar )
Popularity, of course, is considered fleeting while influence tends to last and be more than just superficial. But popularity and influence are not mutually exclusive.
The difference between popularity and influence comes “from an internal motivation. Liking and respecting someone are different than being influenced by them. . In social media we tend to follow people we like, people we respect and people we think are interesting or have interesting ideas. Some of these people seem to have large followings because they do embody one of these categories. These people are popular. Are they influential though?”
A social media user best defines it as “…influence means that I trust someone enough to have their thoughts and opinions actually motivate me to do something. The key for me is the word “trust”. When I really deeply trust someone I let their thoughts affect my own. And trust, I mean real trust, takes time to build. This is why I think the only real influence we get as people come from our trusted social circles and not some of the big “talking heads” we like to read online.”
What are we looking for when we recognize social media users?
Is it their popularity or their influence? You decide.
Image Credit: Advanced Human Technologies (www.ahtgroup.com)