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Doin' Work: Looking Beyond Social Influence

There are something along the lines of one trillion articles about the social influence measuring tool known as Klout. There are also a bunch of pieces about trying to understand influence in our own little niche in the HR and recruiting space. There are lists and criteria and posts dissecting how influence is measured. Or maybe some tips on increasing influence (which, why would an influencer want to tell you how to unseat them?) or how to use influencers and Klout to sell bullshit and B2B software.

This isn’t one of those posts.

Oh sure, I’ve been on those lists (well, the good ones, heh). And I know that whenever I go to a conference and tweet a lot, I become a LOT more influential than I was the day before according to services like Klout. It seems like a system that can be pretty easily gamed, right? Right.

I want to look beyond that, though.

There was a documentary by Spike Lee a few years back called Kobe Doin’ Work. I don’t think it was Lee’s best work but it did an admirable job capturing a game day for NBA star Kobe Bryant.

There was something fascinating to me that, as a full-out Kobe hater™, I couldn’t shake. He’s a basketball geek and he loves playing and competing. I don’t think he has a social life outside of basketball. You get the impression that he spends his off time watching game tape, working out, and thinking about basketball. The literal eat, sleep, breathe character.

Bryant’s rewards have been incredible, of course. Five championships, an Olympic gold medal and various individual honors as well as the league’s most recognizable and best paid star (by more than $4 million per year, before endorsements).

He’s had some missteps, obviously. He isn’t the most likable guy in the world. He doesn’t ooze charisma like another Lakers legend (Magic Johnson).

Bryant is influential because he is good at the game. And if you’re thinking that should be a no-brainer, it should be.

In real life, we don’t reward people because of activity on social media. To be sure, Bryant has a fairly significant presence on Facebook but I doubt he actually does much with it himself. But do I believe for a second that Ricky Rubio is more influential, even though he has 8 times as many followers on Twitter than Bryant?

Not influential in anything that matters. Winning games, selling sports products, whatever…

Of course, what you do in social media matters somewhat. How much? I don’t know. My grandma knows who Kobe Bryant is and it’s not because of his sparkling personality or his social media presence though.

Do the work. I won’t pretend that social media is a meritocracy but doing real work of value is better than being named influential every day of the week. If you are great at what you do and you have a decent social media presence, more power to you. But don’t ever forget which is the most important.

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