There is an interesting thread on Quora about measuring online influence, with some solid ideas from Brian Solis, Karl Long and others. My contribution to the discussion was to get people to stop thinking about influence as something unidirectional, and think of it as bidirectional:
The problem I see with most of the tools claiming to measure influence is that they are measuring something unidirectional (one person influences the dumb masses) when in fact, influence is always bidirectional. There is the person trying to influence, and the person potentially being influenced.
For example, I may persuade person A to buy something, and using the exact same argument and language, person B may decide not to buy the same thing.
In order to build accurate models that measure influence and help businesses understand who to interact with to improve their bottom line, we need to study and understand the relationships between people. In other words, who trusts who about what?
To give another example, if Justin Bieber tweets that he loves his new deodorant brand, we need to understand who then decided to try that brand, and what were the common characteristics of those peoples’ relationship* with Justin Bieber.
*I use the term “relationship” loosely here. I’m taking about their perceptions of Justin Bieber, how they see him, what he means to them, how they came to know and be influenced by him, etc
Check out the full discussion.