Your Influence List Can Suck It

Achieving Online Influence

Whether it’s your Klout score, Empire Avenue stock price, or your placement upon a coveted influencer list, online influence matters.  And to achieve online influence one must have a presence using social media, content creation and curation through blogs and publications, and possibly search engine optimization.  The number of people you engage, influence, and establish real relationships with online.  Having good and relevant content helps but doesn’t always matter.

My big beef with determining online influence is that it is never consistent and penalizes the game player.  And yes, I said game players.  If you think it’s something else you are sorely mistaken.  Penalizing the game player is like disabling the cheat codes because that one kid in junior high was smart enough to figure them out.  Here’s an explanation from an influencer list that did just that.

For this round, we experimented with the keyword cloud. It’s become apparent that the lists are vulnerable to SEO style tactics. That means that we needed to change the keywords we used to get more specific. From now on, the keywords will change with each iteration of each list.

When measurement changes, appears random or even fixed, one tends to lose faith in the credibility, prestige, and usefulness of such honor, measurement, or mention.

Companies are now using influence measurements like Klout scores to make hiring or candidate selection decisions.  I find this very problematic, and yet it’s a part of life.

Most things in life can be bought.  Influence is no different either through the experience in being an expert, use of search engine optimization, or cold hard cash.  Sometimes it’s a combination of both.  Other times it’s not.  Using SEO technologies to establish yourself online is not easy.  In fact, SEO has been a focus of my personal business strategy in 2011.  The problem is that online we are relying on computers to determine levels of influence using scientific and programmed methods.  Except these programmed methods, don’t always give the results that we expect and so we modify them to suit our needs.

Online influence is a game so if you are in the business of generating lists, be honest, upfront, and forthcoming about your methods.  And if online, except components of these measurements to fall victim to SEO.  Failing to do so is like having your students study for a test on American geography when the test is really about Europe.

If you are researching online influence and trends, expect that SEO will play a role because without keywords and content online, you have a whole bunch of nothing.  Without SEO you are effectively searching blindfolded on the internet.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.

Reader Interactions


  1. robynski says

    I agree. But again, money does the talking in our society. Rarely does it establish an individual as worthy, intelligent or highly regarded. It just says they have money.

    My biggest beef with employers though is the use of credit scores to garner employment. Show me a poor, dependent on loans college student, that doesn’t have a minor mishap with their credit. The use of credit checks to value an employee leaves a lot of otherwise talented people on the sidelines.

    I’ve encountered plenty of creepy people people with money and perfect credit scores. It doesn’t mean a thing. It does, however, mean they gain influence and power in certain circles.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says


      Sounds like I need to write a follow up blog post titled, “Why Creepy People Rule the World.” It’s true. Some of the most uncomfortable and strange people have all the cash to do whatever it is they want.

      Thanks for the comment and inspiration!


        • Jessica Miller-Merrell says


          First off thanks for visiting and all your comments. There are influencer lists that are generated using tools like Klout, Empire Avenue, and Traackr which look at your social media engagement and worth using a series of keywords that are selected by the individual creating the list. I have no problem with this except that the words keep changing so the list and its relevance isn’t accurate. Essentially, the list is being manipulated to fit a few people who this individual possibly deems as important. Drives me nuts.

          That’s the short explanation. Social media influence is complicated and at times not something one can understand, track, or even evaluate. It just is.

          Hope this clears things up for you.


  2. Carrie says


    There is a huge misconception about HOW credit reports are used in employment…

    The biggest is the use of scores. Employers do NOT use the scores. In fact, when employers pull credit as part of background checks, the scores are not included so there’s not even a chance that the recruiter could decide to use it on the down low.

    General creditworthiness is not typically an actual consideration… however, when it is reviewed, it’s more from the standpoint of major issues with credit (multiple bankruptcies, multiple deliquencies over an extended period of time… i.e. probably not associated with recent job loss or medical issues, but more showing a history of poor financial decisions)

    When the reports (not scores) are pulled in certain cases, the most common reasons are:
    * in financial institutions… even a lock box clerk in a bank may have their credit pulled, but essentially it’s to ensure employees don’t have any delinquent accounts with any of the bank’s customers, as employee’s with access to systems could potentially alter their own accounts. However, even still – most times, the applicant is given the opportunity to clear up deliquent accounts and an offer is still extended.
    ** secondarily to this is that financial crimes are well-documented as “crimes of opportunity” and are very rarely pre-meditated. I once had to investigate an embezzlement by an employee who realized (due to this small companies poor checks and balances) that she had access to writing checks that only required one signature; as well as checking the mail whereby she was able to deposit checks received that no one even knew about into her own account. She started off small…thinking she would just “borrow” it to make a house payment, and eventually got the company for over $200K
    * in financial positions… for the above reason. People with access to bank accounts, budgets, etc…
    * as part of a background check for the purposes of determining if Joe Schmoe has recent credit history in another state, but didn’t report living in said state. The employer never even sees the report in this instance, but the background check agency will use this information as a trigger to run criminal history in the additional state.

    • robynski says

      Thank you Carrie for the information. I appreciate the depth you went to in your explanation.

      I have seen people embezzle and get caught and then go to work elsewhere without a moments notice or regret. Shameful.

      I do though believe that to use it as a blanket screen process still shorts some worthy individuals. If there were only a silver bullet. ;o)

  3. Sean McVey says

    At our firm we’ve found that conducting keyword research is important for figuring out the types of content our market is interested in and how people are searching.

    We’ve been blogging for three years now, but it wasn’t until we found a focus and considered the SEO aspect in the last year that we gained measurable results. Writing randomly without focusing on specific, researched topics can often be a dangerous waste of time (I speak from experience).

    With that being said, there is certainly a range of approaches to blogging. I’ve talked to some experts that are extremely focused on SEO and every post must be keyword rich. Other experts approach blogging differently. They concentrate on creating content that is engaging and ‘link-worthy’ (so that it spreads quickly in social media). It seems to me that finding a balance between these two approaches would be ideal….but easier said than done.

    Thanks for the great topic Jessica.


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