Influence on the web more important than number of fans?

Having an influential following on the web is one thing, but if you have 20000 twitter followers and only one of them vaguely reads your tweets, what's the point?

Websites like Klout are giving individuals and companies an insight into their 'sphere of influence' with ratings and graphs to show how well you infleunce others, and how others influence you. Moreover, these tools can be helpful to see how valuable your relationship is with other users on popular social networks.

How does this have any relevance to what you do? Whether you have 100 fans or a million, if you can't inspire your followers to take actions, then your influence is fairly dismal.

It is unlikely that anyone would have a million Facebook fans and not have some form of influence for them liking you, but then what? What do you do once you have your fan base for your company? For singers and film studios like Paramount, Facebook fan pages and twitter accounts are a good way to pump out regular news bulletins about upcoming products. With a dedicated readership, you can sell whatever you want in your niche.

So is influence more important than the number of fans you have? Definitely. If we take a look at conversion rates, that is, the percentage of people clicking on your product links, this can indicate how well you are reaching out to your customers/fans. Of course, with Twitter and Facebook there are millions of other users clamoring for the same spotlight, and you are effectively competing with other people even within similar niches. How you get your fans to buy into what your selling depends on your influence and how they perceive you.

For bloggers, writers and journalists, being influential on the web can help bring big audiences to written articles, but if those audiences are not in to what your writing, or just added you to make another friend count on their own profile, then it is of little use.

Websites like Klout give an indication over how you affect other users, measuring interactions, which brands, film studios, small businesses and individuals should take note. If you know an influential Facebook or Twitter user with a niche audience, it might be worth reaching out to them about promoting your products, instead of a google ad word campaign.

What do you think? Does influence matter for you?

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