Social media reach. Pic by Susana Fernandez

Visualizing the true reach of social media personalities

What would a graphical representation of the "social sphere of influence" for some of the world's most popular social media and Internet marketing personalities look like?

Visual representation of social influence for top influencers

The problem with most social metrics used to determine reach, authority, or influence online is that there is such a massive disparity in the scale of influence from one person to the next. To give a true representation of the size of people's followings would mean spitting out numbers that simply don't make sense to most people - they're huge.

To solve this, services like Klout "normalize and manipulate their ranking metrics into an easy to understand, more linear scale. So a person with a Klout of 82 has greater reach than a person with a Klout of 78 - easy to understand, right? The problem is that this completely distorts the real-world picture.

I thought I would illustrate this by selecting a few well known social and Internet marketing types and graphically represent the "true" size of their following as a social sphere of influence.

Popular social marketers

I used the following well-known personalities for the purposes of this demonstration. Included are the cold, hard numbers that went into the infographic's sphere of influence representation:

  • Tina Cook: 69765 twitter followers; included in 2579 Google+ circles
  • Ileane Smith: 3256 twitter followers; included in 5177 Google+ circles
  • John Jantsch: 60 977 twitter followers; included in 16412 Google+ circles
  • Seth Godin: 146136 twitter followers; included in 90575 Google+ circles
  • Chris Brogan: 201093 twitter followers; included in 81565 Google+ circles
  • Guy Kawasaki: 487216 twitter followers; included in 950832 Google+ circles

Incidentally, Guy has a Klout of 82 and Chris Brogan has a klout of 78 (a difference of only 4 points), yet the graphical representation of their true reach and influence shows a very different story.

Things to take into account

It's important to note that twitter and Google+ aren't the only metrics that went into the calculation for true reach - they are major factors, but not the whole story. The true reach figure that was used to create the infographic was provided by Klout.

In addition, I should point out that while it may appear that the marketers with smaller influence in this particular comparison are not faring well, they had to have an appreciable following in order to be represented in this infographic in the first place.

Tina and Guy's followings were selected as the high and low for this comparison simply because the numbers worked without me having to do too much editing to the sphere volumes. It would have been just as easy to select marketers to create an infographic depicting Tina with the largest social sphere of influence.

Conversely, there are social media monsters out there that aren't included in this infographic because the scale of their reach would blot out most of the image. I won't mention names - Pete Cashmore, Robert Scoble, Ben Silberman, and co.

On a more personal social note...

My Klout has been growing by a couple of points every day, on average, for the last few weeks (since I got back from Christmas holidays and starting being social... proper) but I clearly have a long, long way to go.

I guess the moral of this story is that there is always going to be someone bigger than you, and someone smaller than you. The best you can do is to keep learning and keep improving what you do.

Incidentally, if you enjoy looking at graphs and infographics about sales, social media and marketing, check out some of these graphs depicting sales of marketing and business books:

Drop a comment and share where you would feature in this graph or follow on twitter and Google+ to continue the conversation there. Remember to keep an eye out for my next sales/social/marketing infographic.

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