Musings On Influence in the Association Space

So it being almost Friday and me not having blogged in a while and also overdue for a good rant, I'm going to go here. "Here" being the top 10 Most Influential & Authoritative Association Professionals Online list posted by an association vendor's marketing director this week. No disrespect intended to my good friends who are included on the list--they are all smart and awesome. But most authoritative and influential association professionals online based on two factors: Klout and Peerindex scores? I'm going to have to, if not outright call bullshit on the method of determination of "influence" and "authority," at least give a really heavy sigh and super-duper eye roll.

Klout? Really? As a determining factor of influence among association professionals? Klout, which I opted out of after they created a profile for my 13 year-old son then, after apologizing profusely and promising to "roll back" the oops that led to that breach of their own terms of service, STILL suggested I invite my daughter--age 15 at the time--to join Klout? Klout, who even after those big "oops" moments was still targeting minors in one of their perks? Klout, who is taking advantage of users and using their likenesses and identities to promote their own perks program? Seriously--read those three links and the comments in each--especially the last link--to see that all is not rosy in the world of Klout. In the association space, where there are so many smart leaders-- both those who are active online in social media world and those who aren't--and where so much business is done based on word-of-mouth recommendation and actual influence that can't be measured by a BS algorithm that people game for fun--we're honestly just supposed to embrace a top 10 list based on Klout score?

As my daughter would say: SMH. (For those of you who do not have a teenage daughter, "SMH" means "shaking my head," as in, "seriously?!")

That's all I'll say about that. But onto another, related issue that goes back to influence in the association space and what counts and what doesn't when it comes to thought leadership also goes for what counts when it comes to purchasing power. Meaning? Association vendors who are spending a ton of time and money marketing themselves as social businesses, selling concepts that the majority of associations are still a decade away from embracing, if even then they ever embrace those concepts at all, are falling flat when it comes to what actually matters: quality products and services, and quality customer service for existing clients. If your existing clients are frustrated but you're so entrenched in spending time and resources marketing to prospective clients that you're falling flat servicing paying clients, it's only a matter of time until those frustrated, ignored existing clients start talking to those prospective new clients and there went all your money and time spent on marketing. The result? Eventually you lose your existing clients AND potential new clients. Also--and I've blogged about this before--there are a lot of inter-association friendships and relationships, so even if you think ignoring that small guy client is ok because they're just a small fish and not worth worrying about, the reality is that that client may well be friends with or somehow related to a big fish potential client, and stories of horrible service or lost revenue due to a crap product or service travel far and absolutely impact purchasing decisions. In other words, please care as much or, hopefully, more about existing clients supporting their businesses as you care about wooing new clients or breaking into new markets. Being a social business is about more than marketing--it's about genuinely caring about not only being the best but providing the best--service and product.

Ok, putting my soapbox away....and still SMH about the Klout thing...