There are certain words that make my skin crawl. Here’s the short list:
Brands are spending millions of dollars reaching out to online influencers to spread their message, hawk their wares, drive traffic to their sites, send consumers to their stores.
And many of them are paying for the Emperor’s New Clothes.
The fact is that influence is for sale…cheap. I’ve watched as one friend on Twitter has quadrupled their number of followers by paying less a month than it would cost me to buy a coke at McDonald’s every day. You want links back to your site to boost your Alexa? You got $40? Because there are plenty of companies out there that will pay pennies to the most random of sites to embed hidden text links to your blog, falsely boosting the amount of influence your site has on a number of statistics.
But how much influence does a blogger have over a bought audience? And who is that audience?
Remember the blogger with the sudden Twitter fame? That same blogger has complained how horrible the tweet stream is now that it is filled with random people who have nothing to do with the content of their blog. It’s all marketers, life coaches, teenagers on their phones…spam. So when that blogger puts their five digit Twitter follower up for a brand to see, what they’re really offering is access to a disengaged motley crew of spammers. Nice!
And back to Klout. Last year Jennifer James of Mom Bloggers Club wrote about Mom Bloggers with a high Klout score, a measure of online influence. I was number one on the list…but didn’t tell my clients or add it to my Media Kit. Why? Because these “measures of influence” come and go faster than my high school boyfriends and in my opinion, are easily manipulated. In fact, one blogger who almost never tweets and when she does, only tweets out links to her posts, showed me how she was able to greatly affect her own Klout score with just a few clicks. When companies began to request my Klout score before working with me or even providing giveaways to my bloggers, I had to share my score, but it should really have an asterisk next to it like so many of these tools that are often the result of smoke and mirrors.
Before the trolls start in the comments, these are not the ramblings of a small number blogger. Mine are real. And they’re fabulous. And yes, I can put them in a pretty powerpoint, throw on the cute suit, and tell you that I am your dream come true. But I’d much rather show you the results of my efforts for you than drag out the horse and pony show.
To those hoping to engage with the vast mom audience – and quite frankly, their buying power – it’s time to step away from the metrics. Ask yourself why a blogger came out of nowhere to have a huge and sudden audience. Find out why someone whose blog is filled with typos and cut/pasted press releases is telling you they have pageviews that are out of this world. Ask yourself what influence really means.
And try to see beyond the smoke and mirrors.