In the hyperconnectivity era, influencers use different web platforms to disseminate information, knowledge and views on specific issues. Today doesn´t exist only one communication channel, the same actor can share their ideas on various platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Youtube, etc.
On these platforms people share information, knowledge and opinions that make them important in a topic. In a way, we can say that the influence of these actors has to do with the way in which they are linked in their networks. But how to measure your real influence in the online world?
First, it must be said that the influence networks are mainly communications networks. Without communication there is no influence, therefore, the influence of an actor can be thought of as the degree of connectivity that has in its communications network.
Johnis a renowned North American nutritionist. If you are interested in knowing the small world of influencers on food, certainly you should include him in your research. So if John has a Twitter account and a personal blog our starting point is these networks. Let’s imagine that John can only share his knowledge with those who are on these two sites and has no influence on other platforms. We can then say, that all John’s followers and all sites linked to his blog consider him an influence. In a way, the influence is a subjective measure, some people believe that John has important things to say about nutrition. But this subjectivity is reflected in the links. The more followers and more links John has to his blog, the greater his online influence.
In turn, John may consider that other nutritionists are important, and these will be the nutritionists influencers for John. By entering in John’s website we find links on its blogroll, that lead to other nutrition blogs. In this case it is John who believes that such blogs have valuable knowledge, this means they are an influence for John. Therefore, starting from John, it is possible to build an influence network on Twitter and between blogs, generating an image of the small world of influencers in nutrition.
Secondly, all influence network online depends on the web visibility of an actor. A person can have a lot of academic influence, but does not have web visibility (Because they do not use social platforms, do not have personal blogs, they are not mentioned by the media). These people do not communicate in the online world, that is why they can not be influential. In which cases the actors are classified as highinfluence offline, but no online influence.
The distinction between the two types of influence is very significant and netnography should consider both of them. In future courses we will deepen into the subtleties behind the analysis of the influence offline. In this introductory course we will work specifically on online influence. LivingNethos offers free tools to quickly build these networks.
Finally, it is important to say that we should not confuse an online influence network with a virtual community. The virtual community are all users of social platforms that communicate to each other. But only a small part of this community are influencers. This small group of high influence, we call it the small world of influencers.
This idea is based on the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) Theory, of Everett Rogers. Rogers created a typology that distinguishes between: innovative, first adopters and conservatives. According to his theory, the innovative societies are the small minority. The success of the innovation diffusion, actually depends on the early adopters. It is because of these early adopters that large conservative majority end up accepting innovation.
Innovators and early adopters are linked to “small” communities in the sense given by the Theory of Six Degrees of Separation.We all know the idea that people in the world are separated by a chain, maximum of six people known, so that a person in the US can send a message to a person in China, through less than six people. In the case of influencers groups, the separation is much smaller. Cohesion allows this group to have a huge influence in the virtual community.
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