The Wane of Influence – a #BeMyGuest post by @kerrymg

It’s #BeMyGuest Monday and today I’d like to welcome Kerry Gaffney to the COMMS corner.

Kerry (aka @kerrymg) is one of the most clued up digital consultants I’ve met and her blog Niff, Naff n Triv always provides food for thought.

Last week, Kerry very kindly opened up her blog, giving me a chance to wax lyrical about Twitter follower ratios.

Today, she kindly takes a look the ‘I’ word…let’s hand things over to Kerry…

The Wane of Influence

Way back in January I dashed off a quick post about a a couple of online media experiments that I’d somehow become aware of.

One of which was Adam’s year long no-newsprint for me challenge.

At the time I pointed out two potential flaws, that only the format had changed, not necessarily the content and that online consumption makes it too easy to restrict what you information you see.

As Adam’s experiment goes on, the early indications are that I wrong on the first point, his assessment from Week 3 about the level of balanced analysis that you don’t get easily from Twitter, FaceBook et al pointing towards this.

However his write-up from Week 4, supports my second point that it’s too easy to let you network become your information filtration system.

This hypothesis is supported by the results from another  recent experiment, this time conducted on American Students by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda. 200 Students from the University of Maryland College Park campus were asked to abstain from all media for a whole 24 hours and then to post about their experiences on a private blog site.

One of the key findings was that without access to the internet, email or their mobile phones, the students felt cut off from even from those who were geographically close.

The other was that the students get their news from their network, only turning directly to mainstream media for key events, like the Olympics. One researcher on the project noted:

“One student said he realized that he suddenly ‘had less information than everyone else, whether it be news, class information, scores, or what happened on Family Guy.”

The study found that students were very anxious about being cut off from information and were almost completely brand neutral when it comes to their source of news, showing equal interest in ‘proper’ news and random information, regardless of source.

So what does this mean?

That we’re turning into news absorbers, not hunters?

Is it a reflection of the cult of self, where we expect that important news will make its way to use, regardless of our own efforts.  Does it also change how we perceive influence?

If all information, regardless of source is treated equally then it doesn’t matter what the provenance of the original source actually is?

What really matters is who told you, and if that is restricted to a persons close friends and family, then how do the traditional marketings services, PR included, influence them?


A big thanks to Kerry for penning this post.

If you’d like to take part in the fun that is #BeMyGuest Monday, check out

1 Comment

  • Reply May 17, 2010

    Paul Sutton

    Hi Kerry
    Your point about being a nation of ‘news absorbers’ rather than hunters is, I feel, especially apt. The ‘cult of self’ is something that has been debated before with regard to the social web – whether it’s narcissistic or not. Maybe the same goes for the way we receive news?

    Adam’s experiment seems to prove that you don’t need to read newspapers and that they’re therefore becoming redundant (about time you updated us, Adam!). From my own perspective, news makes its way to me via RSS and Twitter – I don’t ‘hunt’ news. But that inevitably means I (unintentionally or intentionally??) filter out a lot. And that makes a PRs job even harder. BUT, that’s exactly why I believe social web marketing is so important…

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