An insider's look at the power of influence marketing

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Note from the editor: The following is an excerpt from "Return On Influence," by Mark W. Schaefer. In his book, Schaefer discusses the power of Klout, social scoring, and influence marketing.

An insider's look at the power of influence marketing

The new rules of online influence

How does one become more influential on the social web? We are certainly on the cusp of a revolution in the nature of influence that is being enabled by three concurrent technological developments:

  1. The widespread global availability of free or low cost internet access
  2. Easy-to-use social media tools that allow nearly anyone to become a publisher
  3. Algorithms from companies such as Klout and PeerIndex that identify, assess, and sort influencers by topic

But apart from technology, the entire nature of influence is changing. The reason people become powerful through social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter has turned many traditional ideas about influence upside down.

To understand the new realities of power and influence -- and how we can use them to our advantage -- it would be useful to look at some traditional views and examine what's different now. To guide us, let's turn to a well-known resource created my Dr. Robert Cialdini in his acclaimed book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion." 

In writing the seminal book, Professor Cialdini spent three years going undercover, applying for jobs and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms, to observe real-life situations of persuasion. The book documents what Cialdini calls the "weapons of influence" as he found them in the real world. If you want to learn how personal power and persuasion really works, this is the place to go.

Let's examine how some of these traditional aspects of influence play out on the internet. In this chapter we'll consider authority (both real and perceived), likability, consistency, and scarcity. In Chapter 4 we'll look at two of the social web's heavyweight sources of influence: social proof and reciprocity.

At the end of each section, there are some ideas about the implications for your online power and influence.