By Madeline Clark & Roger Sullivan
Tuesday of the second week of class, VCU and IYLEP students were given the opportunity to meet with Jon Becker. He is the Director of Online Academic Programs and Learning Innovation here at Virginia Commonwealth University. He starts the lecture with two questions:
1) What is Influence?
2) What is a network?
Influence has various definitions, but for today’s lesson Jon was looking for something in particular. He suggested to download Klout, which is a program that measures your influence on social media as whole. Jon explains to the class that Klout breaks down influence into three separate parts:
The image above explains that reach is the number of people who will see your message. Amplification is the number of people who will relay it to their networks. Finally Impact (important) is the number of times other people with influence will relay your message.
This pyramid illustrates how reach is the biggest portion of your influence that represents all the people are seeing your content. As we elevate to the next level, the portion becomes smaller because only some of the people you have reached now are amplifying your content. Again, they are relaying your message by sharing (posting) your content to their following. (ie: retweeting, reposting, regram) We see impact sits at the top with the smallest portion because out of the some that amplify what you’re saying, there are fewer with legitimate influence. Impact is the endgame of influence, because these are the followers that have enough influence within social media to get the buzz stirring.(so-to-speak) Jon used an example of those with high Klout scores (influence score on social media) were bumped up to priority seating flying with United Airlines. Why do you think that is? Well Jon explained that United Airlines understood very well that these people could use social media to either compliment or complain about their services; which in turn could affect United Airlines’ business with potential passengers. Successful business like United Airlines know how powerful social media is and understand that influence is the ability impact someone’s behavior or opinion; to affect change.
Networking (for this lecture) is a way to measure influence. By measuring, we can get an idea whether we are doing a good job or not. This is called Network Theory also known as Social Network Analysis. (SNA) is a way to graph your connections (relations) with other networks in social media so you can see where your influence stands within the social media world.
A simpler example would be this diagram of a group of 10; who would you guess is the most networked person within the group? A lot of the students chose Jane and even more chose Diane. Jane looks like she is the boss, all connections come together and end with her. However, she has only one connection to the outside and that is Ike. Diane is well connected with most of the people, she is considered to have a high degree centrality. This means she has the most followers and most potential, but she is not the key to all this. It is actually Heather, Heather’s connections go to both the bosses and (we’ll say) the rest of the staff. Heather is what we call The bridge within the Network. All traffic of connection between staff and bosses go through her. Without Heather that connection between the whole group is lost. As Jon says, “ BE a Heather!”, meaning be the one those connects your most of your networks together. (Be the middle man) Jon graphed our activity with the hashtag #vcusocialmedia and quite surprisingly one of the IYLEP students (Joe) was our “Heather”. He did this by not just using the hashtag but by engaging with other people using the same hashtag in the form or retweets, reposting and other forms of sharing. So, where do you stand in the world of social media? What is your influence? We live in a world that relies HEAVILY on social media for almost all of its information now; the best thing to do is to start knowing and understanding your egocentric network.
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