Random Voices: The Power Of Influence In The Blogosphere

September 28, 2006

I came across this article on one of the blogs I read regularly:  Everyone Is An Influencer

In the article, Cameron Olthuis posits that it is important for companies not just to focus their efforts on the “influencers” (in the classic marketing sense), but everyone.  The rationale is that just about everyone might be an influencer these days on the blogosphere and you shouldn’t limit your efforts just to those that you think or suspect are influencers.

I agree with most of what Cameron has to say (and the article is a nice easy read).  But I have one point I’d like to push back on.

I disagree with his statement that “all one needs to do is shout through the megaphone and people will hear it, loud and clear.”  Though we are a much more connected society now and it does not take being a media magnate or having an existing readership in the millions to wield influence anymore, it’s not as straight-forward as Cameron is suggesting.  The challenge now is not that megaphones are expensive, and so few people can afford them, but the fact that since they are so cheap, lots of people have them.  The result is a cacophony of messages out there making it harder and harder to separate signal from noise.  

Of course, just because there’s a low probability that any individual message will make it through, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to the possibility.  You should track your “buzz” and make sure you know what is being said about you and your offering on the web.  You can’t wait until the issue escalates (i.e. a particular message from a particular would-be-influencer rises above the noise).  By that point, it will be too late.

Also, not all businesses are created equal.  Some are more “at risk” of influence by the blogosphere than others.  Many businesses, big and small, now have to deal with the “random voices” factor.  That is, every now and then (and more often than we might suspect), individual voices will randomly strike a chord with the community and rise above the noise.  It is important that we as business leaders recognize this both for the opportunity it represents and the risk that it entails.  


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