The discussion about online influence needs to shift away from discussions about Facebook, Twitter, and LinkIn and move to a discussion about content and personal connections.
Brian Solis, one of Social medias most consistently great thinkers did a study asking social media practitioniers where online influence comes from. Some of what Brian uncovered was counter intuitive, but all makes good sense when you think about it.
Is there a differce between popularity and influence? YES, big difference.
The more fans you have, the more influential you are? Maybe not. Respondents valued fewer more tightly connected followers to masses.
Most important function that creates online influence? Top choice by far: Create, post, or share compelling content. Many other functions fell behind this including: being famous online, being authentic, and connecting with famous people.
Bottom line: online influence is about creating content that connects with others. When you think about it, isn't that what all stripes of social media provide opportunity for?
The way online influence is most often evaluated is in the ability to motivate followers to action. I have seen the influnce Brian has on his followers first hand. Last year I quoted him in a social media research study I did. When Solis read it, he liked and tweeted that he was reading it. Within hours the study had been retweeted over a hundred times.
Download a PDF of the findings: