Is Influence The Currency Of The Social Web? Or is it Content?

By Michael Brito | 2 years ago | 5 Comments

Michael Brito, Senior Vice President of Social Business Strategy at Edelman, is a Guest Contributor to the HootSuite blog, and author of “Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization.”  The post below originally appeared on

Companies Must Enable Their Customers to Contribute to the Brand Story

I saw this excellent video of Joe Fernandez, co-founder and CEO of Klout. In the video, Joe explains that influence data changes consumer-brand relationships and sees a marketplace where customers’ words control a brand’s story. He also said that influence is the currency of the social web.

Joe is a super smart guy and a great speaker, but I look at it in a slightly different way.

While I do agree that influence does impact the relationship between brands and customers, I believe the real currency of the social web is actually content. If content has the power to change world government, it surely has the power to change customer behavior. And when that content can provide a certain level of value, it’s no longer about customers controlling the brand story. It will be about customers contributing to the brand story. But they need more than just feeling empowered. They must be enabled.

HootSuite note: Our tool is integrated with Klout, making it easy for you to see a user’s Klout score with a single click. You can also filter lists and search streams by Klout too.  

Dirkje 5pts

I agree, @nateabisu. Either way, separating the one concept from the other is futile, they are largely (if not entirely) interdependent. Research (Holt, for example, or CCT) shows that the central 'influencers' draw on content and the perceived authenticity of a brand's message while others look to the appropriation of a brand by the former, to guide the way they include the brand in their consumption patterns. So both content and social influence each have a distinct but intertwined role to play, and in different groups of consumers the relative dominance of one or the other shifts.

Mark 5pts

Money is the currency of the social web! If social media doesn't make you any money, don't bother.

@nateabisu 5pts

Both influence and content are equally important, in my opinion. It's not like you're going to reach out to many people without a good influence.

Howie 5pts

This is so hokie. Ask people where engaging with brands ranks in their life and it comes in at the bottom. We spend on average 15 mins a day on social platforms yet spend 4+hrs watching TV. Klout is hokie. Any Brand relying on scores to find strangers to advocate their Brand...short that stock immediately. Social Influence is about as powerful as F-Commerce and Farmville. It will never move the needle for major brands...ever. If they really felt it would work there would not be any celebrity endorsements any more. Nike and Buick would ditch Tiger Woods.

But look at the source. It is coming from a high level employee of a company all in on social influence. So maybe just a little bias here? Just maybe?