Tell me no secrets, I'll tell you no lies

We had a killer chat with a colleague last week about privacy and influence online.

It's no secret that Facebook and Google harvest every last drop of our digital identities. Like, cause-big-brother-to-have-a-crisis-of-totalitarian-conscience data harvesting.

If you're online, you're being tracked. But it's not the data stealing you should be most concerned about as a 21st century professional. It's how you're being perceived.

(NB: We don't think data tracking is anything to be made light of. Quite the opposite. But that's not what we're exploring here.)

Online influence is tough to define, tough to measure and tough to execute on, well.

People, for the most part, are influenced by the people around them.  That's nothing new.  What's new is the digital revolution and its effects on the influence ecosystem.  The rise of the Internet, mobile devices and the social web are galvanizing the nature of influence.  If your marketing maven isn't obsessing over it now, they should be.  And with good reason.

One of the greatest marketing opportunities for business in the digital age lies with channeling influence.

Malcolm Gladwell, in the Tipping Point, illustrates beautifully how social epidemics are driven by people with influence, not mediums with influence:

"Word of mouth is - even in this age of mass communications and multi million dollar advertising campaigns - still the most important form of human communication.  Think, for a moment, about the last expensive restaurant you went to, the last expensive piece of clothing you bought, and the last movie you saw. In how many of those cases was your decision about where to spend your money heavily influenced by the recommendation of a friend?  There are plenty of advertising executives who think that precisely because of the sheer ubiquity of marketing efforts these days, word of mouth appeals have become the only kind of persuasion that most of us respond to anymore."

Marketing is connecting these days, isn't it?

If that's true then telling your story well, being transparent and authentic, and connecting to one person at a time who believes what you believe (and shares that with his or her friends) is better than thousands of prime time eyeballs. 

Every time.