Influencerproject With apologies to Edwin Starr, when did the word influence join the commoditized dictionary with experience, integrated, solutions and the like?

Was it when the word was first used (incorrectly) as a synonym to popularity? I’m not sure. And I don’t really care. But popularity is not the same as influence and ever since Fast Company’s much-discussed “Influence Project” debuted, I’ve become interested in defining influence once and for all.

The Importance of Influence
At Empower, we use influence as a guide to our blogger relations efforts. It’s an important metric. We know it makes more sense to talk to the people that count than simply count the people that talk about you. If you think influence is popularity, you’d assume a tweet from me was more influential than a tweet from Pete Blackshaw. And anyone that follows the marketing and advertising industries understands how flawed that thinking is.

All Eyes on SXSWi 2011
Instead of just blogging about it, I’ve connected with three other industry professionals to focus on the topic and present our findings at SXSWi. But we need your help. Please vote for our panel and leave a comment at the panel picker adding your thoughts to this conversation.

Please vote for Influencer Throwdown: Proving Influence Once & For All. Helping me clarify this important concept are David Binkowski, Krista Neher and Saul Colt. It’s important concept. It’s important to note this panel will NOT be the usual death by PowerPoint. We’ll also have some constructive conclusions in addition to our strong opinions and energized group discussion. You’ll have to register to vote and comment.

Our panel is one of more than 2,300 vying for a spot on the packed schedule for Austin next year. There are several ideas worth considering just from the Cincinnati area alone. Once you’re registered, consider the following panels:

* Branded! Grocery Store Insights in the Digital Age: The team from LPK will be pouring some hard-earned insights into their presentation. You can’t walk through a grocery store in North America without seeing some of LPK’s branding and packaging work.

* Are We Not Men? Reaching New American Dads: Craig Heimbuch from Man of the House is spearheading this panel. Cincinnati Social Media had Man of the House at a recent event on community management. It’s a great community sponsored by P&G with a lot of important things to say. I for one am hoping they can get dads portrayed as something other than out of touch buffoons in today’s advertising.

* The Future of Nonprofits: Building Change-able Organizations: Randall Moss and David Neff will provide practical tools to create a culture of innovation within any non-profit organization.

* Rapid Prototyping a new model for Higher Education: Glenn Platt, one of two presenters from Miami University’s Interactive Studies puts it best: “The destructive creation that entrepreneurs have embraced has put the traditional university into a tailspin. The presenters will present an explicit model for the future of higher education. We will examine the entire higher education eco-system and there are no sacred cows. The well-designed higher education experience involves theory, practice, collaboration, cooperative authorship, distribution & re-construction of knowledge, and radical re-thinking of credentials.”

A diverse, world-class group bringing serious ideas to bear just from my home town. Be sure to rock the vote and I really appreciate your time and consideration. Voting ends this week. So I’ll resume regular programming shortly. ;-)

Cross-posted to my work blog, Social Study.

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