A colleague asked me recently, “What or who has most influenced you in your life?”
A simple question I thought, but when I looked at it, I realised that while I’ve spent over 50,000 hours of my life listening to hundreds of teachers, friends, and media personalities, most of these people did not really move me. Those who did resonated with me on some deep level. They were competent in some way I wished to emulate, they were aligned with my values, and they had real integrity. These were people I trusted, and in the end, they made all the difference.
What I love about social media today is that I can focus my limited attention listening to those I truly trust and filter out the other voices. My feeds are full of virtual mentors, personal heroes, and intimate friends, and I love discovering new voices who can move me closer to where I most deeply aspire to be. Unlike the paternalistically selected sources of information I paid attention to in the past, these new influences move me daily and deeply, because I have chosen them from among the world’s 7.5 billion people. My curated information environment, my inner sphere of influence, is now rich soil for my soul’s desires to grow, rather than a pot in someone else’s box garden.
Creating Effective Communications
It’s an empowering time to be alive as an individual, but a confusing time for a brand with a product or a message to share. Mass media and even programmatic advertising no longer move people like me who have made the shift to a self-curated sphere of influence. Messages sent through these mass channels are often filtered out at the level of perception, and even when they manage to divert people’s attention, they are then often repelled by consumers’ psychological immune systems because they are not trusted. These two essential components of influence – attention and trust – have flown from conventional channels in which they were once confined. The influence brands need to get their message out has moved, dispersed into the fathomless, multi-platform, ever-changing social graph. So where did that influence go which brands used to rely on? Most don’t know.
What’s funny about this situation is that if you have a great idea or product you want to share with the world, the potential to spread that idea has never been stronger. Brands like Dollar Shave Club, Pokemon Go, and even President Obama, quickly saturated entire communities by flowing through channels of interest and trust and social media. But these stories are the exception, and most brands waste huge sums on adventures into social media from which few dollars ever return. It’s as if this new world is like the new world of the first American explorers – full of promise and yet full of danger.
The Power of Maps
What laid the foundation for a great civilisation in the wilderness of the Americas were maps, and I believe the same will be true of the world of influence as well. An influence map would tell brands where the influence lies in the social graph, helping them navigate which of all the possible paths is the fastest one to my heart as a consumer. What excites me most about illuminating this path for brands is that following this path requires earning a double consent – the influencer’s consent to working with a brand and my consent to following the influencer (compared to traditional advertising which entails no consent). This double consent serves as a selection mechanism to support the survival of alive, aligned ideas and to kill off ideas which don’t serve the interests of the community. These checks and balances keep influencers and brands alike loyal to the aspirations of consumers. Mapping the territory of influence will therefore enable those with an idea to share to quickly test it and, if it proves viable, distribute this idea widely, while those with influence will be fairly valued for their role in sharing worthy ideas with their communities.
This influencer map is but one piece of infrastructure required to build the influence economy, albeit an essential one. Like the track and trains that came to criss-cross America and the world in the 19th century, a variety of interfaces and APIs will make working with influence more accessible and profitable for brands, influencers, and consumers alike. With this infrastructure in place, brands will work with influence as the most profitable means to move consumers, and anyone with influence (not just those called influencers today) will profit from their authentic relationships, growing the economic pie and redistributing the rewards from trillion-dollar tech behemoths to individuals who serve their communities.
Building this influence map and making it available to the world, as well as building other key infrastructure required for the influence economy, won’t be easy. Understanding the landscape of influence requires deep expertise in data. Understanding the flow of influence requires deep expertise in psychology. Packaging this map and surrounding services into a product accessible to all who might benefit from it requires deep expertise in software product development.
I joined Tailify to take its existing capabilities in these three domains to the next level so that we might play a meaningful role in this movement towards the influence economy. I’m here because I want my daughter to participate in an economy which better serves our deepest aspirations and runs on authenticity rather than controlled manipulation. I want her to live in a world where the attention and trust we earn through life just by expressing ourselves is valued and harnessed to progress ideas worthy of our aspirations.
If this picture of the future resonates with you, I’d love to talk to you.
You can contact Ian by emailing Ian.Randolph@tailify.com, or reaching out to the team directly.