Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Power of Influence -or- What It Really Means To Get A Tweet From Ashton

In a recent article from the New York Times, Joe Fernandez CEO and co-founder of Klout said, “For the first time, we’re all on an even playing field... it’s not just how much money you have or what you look like. It’s what you say and how you say it.” And, for about 24 hours last week, I watched astounded as this came to life in front of me.

My last post reviewed A+ - the Twitter client from Ashton Kutcher and UberMedia. Just as the West Coast turned in for the night, and I jumped on the 67 bus into work, Ashton tweeted his thanks and appreciation for my review. My fellow bus passengers were totally freaked out by my screams of excitement. By the time I arrived at my desk, my blog had received 3,000 hits. At close of play on 22nd June the post had reached an amazing 8,000 views - up 7,900 on my usual daily visitors.

Now, let's calm down and do the math. Ashton has 7,075,316 followers on Twitter. Of those followers, about 0.1% clicked through to my blog. Amongst the 8,000 who read the post, 30 then followed me on Twitter. That's a fair downward slide in engagement - a key indicator of influence. So I got to wondering, just how influential is Ashton and about what, because despite being a key investor and consultant in tech, it seems his audience aren't a geeky lot - they aren't interested in blog posts about desktop apps. And, conversely, the key tech influencers don't appear to view Ashton as a hot source on tech news. In one Silicon Valley workshop I ran earlier this year, I was surprised when the client insisted on putting Ashton on the "We are not" board.

Ultimately, Ashton (and his wife Demi Moore) are known globally for their celebrity. For most of the world, Ashton is the dude from "Dude, Where's My Car" and Punk'd. He has fans - 7 million of whom follow him on Twitter. And, when it comes to his causes and charities, those followers are something powerful to leverage into action. Equally, for the execs behind Two and a Half Men, Ashton has both the star quality and dedicated following to drown out Sheen's incoherent rantings come the new season.

Having witnessed the power of "God-like" influence first-hand, I must agree with the NYT piece, "focus your digital presence on one or two areas of interest. Don’t be a generalist". Ashton's celebrity following prevents him from being a leading influencer in the very area of interest he is attempting to focus on, he is a victim of his own digital presence. All praise to him for starting Katalyst, his own digital media company, but if I were Ashton and really wanted to cultivate influence in tech? I'd start a side stream (@AKTech ??), get down and geeky, and aim to be the first person to get 1 million tech tweeters to take you off the "We are not board" and get on board with Ashton the media mogul.