It’s just not right. Every person is created equal, right? As such, everyone’s opinion should count equally.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case and I caught myself falling victim to influence checking. Part of my job is to monitor the social media interactions that happen for various business social media profiles and pages. The Klout plugin, for better or for worse, makes it easier for me to know when to respond thoughtfully and when to dismiss people. I’m not proud to admit it, but it happens. When one of the profiles receives a Tweet, for example, from someone with no followers and a low Klout score, my response to them is quick and simple, almost dismissive. When an “influencer” engages one of the profiles, it’s time to get into a conversation for them and all of their followers to witness.
It wasn’t always this way. There was a time not too long ago when everyone got equal treatment. It took a silly public conversation with someone to make me realize that there are times when you just shouldn’t push it. Privacy prevents me from going into details, but I made the mistake of getting into a public Twitter argument with someone trolling one of our pages. I kept it professional, of course, and had a 4 or 5 Tweet conversation with someone who wasn’t happy with one of our clients. It wasn’t until after the discussion that I checked more closely and realized that the person who was trolling had just created the Twitter account, that it had 4 followers, and that had I ignored it other than the initial apology, that nobody would have seen the conversation. Instead, I broadcast the conversation to a one-sided audience: out client’s.
Thankfully, it was handled well and we came out as the reasonable and polite side of the argument, but in retrospect it should never have happened.
Conversely, there was an instance when we were retweeted by a major automotive manufacturer with millions of Twitter followers. The reply Tweet took 15 minutes to write; never have 140 characters taken so many people to tweak and approve.
The reality of social media is that those who have a following, who have influence, must be treated differently. Again, it’s not right. It’s just reality. Size is only a minor indicator. Someone with 1000 active and real followers or 100 true Facebook friends can be much more influential than someone with 250k fake Twitter followers or 5000 Facebook friends from Bangladesh. Klout is easily manipulated and should only be a guide. The only real way to know if someone is an influencer is to examine their feeds. Are they talking to people? Are people talking back to them?
It’s a sad state of affairs but it has become necessary to treat people differently on social media based upon who they might influence. The reason is simple and goes back to something that I’ve said a dozen times in blog posts. It’s not what you’re saying about yourself but what others are saying about you that has a real effect through social media. The only addition to this is to understand that the people who are talking about you are not created equal, at least in the eyes of social media.