There seems to be a bit of a witch hunt that’s been generated by this article in Fast Company against theories about Influentials suggested by thinkers like Malcolm Gladwell. ‘They don’t exist!’ explains the author Clive Thompson and this idea seems to be supported by a bunch of ‘toldyouso’ bloggers who would traditionally not be cast as traditional Influencers. Inferiority complex, anyone? Or that’s how it looks from here.
They shouldn’t worry and should spend some time looking at a far more useful (and related) article by Scott Carp in Publishing 2.0. Carp looks at the new influentials, how they leverage the web and how they’re replacing key influencers like journalists with the simple power of the hyperlink. He explains:
[I was] thinking about the dynamics of influence on the web, where in the age of Google PageRank, inline linking, and social applications, the link is the principal driver of “network efforts” and influence.
The reason Google’s search results often contain more blogs than traditional media content is that blogs were the first to harness the power of the link. Blogs linked to other blogs, while traditional media brands remained disconnected silos. Savvy web users — many college age or early 20s — pooled their links on Digg and developed the power to drive server-crashing volumes of traffic, forcing traditional media sites, who still lack such influence, to plaster themselves with Digg This buttons.
…Journalists and PR professionals, the influence brokers of traditional media, have lost a huge degree of influence on the web in large part because they don’t link to anything. While traditional media brands are still powerful channels on the web, they are losing influence everyday to the link-driven web network — journalists and PR professionals can no longer depend on controlling these former monopoly channels to exert influence online.
…Influence on the web is all about connectivity — the larger the network, the more powerful the links.