So, once again, England lost on penalties.Even a new manager, who is widely regarded as a great footballing man with significant influence on the players, could not cast aside the spell which seems to beset the England Football Team. Lots of things were changed in the run-up to Euro 2012 – players wives and girlfriends were allowed on the trip (unlike before), relaxation was deemed an important part of training, and they practised penalties (much good that did them). Yet in spite of these changes, England remained the same, defensive, ramshackle team that cannot keep the ball nor realise that the whole point of the game is to score goals, not solely to stop the other side from scoring.
So, in spite of the changes to the management and the training, how come the England Team were not influenced to change? Influence is an interesting psychological conundrum. If you are influenced by what I say, why? What is going on that makes you susceptible to the influence of others? What do those other people do to influence you? Can you prevent yourself from being influenced?
These are all interesting questions which many academic psychologists are trying to find answers to. But nowadays, the Internet provides them with a whole new area of research. How do you influence other people, merely by a comment on a blog post, or with a Tweet, for instance?
Luckily, research at the University of California has, for the first time, provided us with statistically significant results about online influence. This study looked at 42,000 messages from over 7,700 Facebook users. The results show that, marginally, men are more influential than women – though women are more influential over men. The study also revealed age differences for influence, as well as whether the individual was single or married.
It turns out that if you really want to be influential you need to be a single woman aged over 31. Now, before you rush off and change your online profiles to pretend to be such an individual, you might need to consider why this might be.
For single women, aged over 31 there is significant biological and social pressure nagging away at them – to reproduce. They therefore have the greatest biological need to be influential – to get a mate, quick. Crudely, their biological clock is ticking faster and so they could well adopt behaviours which make it more likely that they get their man. Their maternal instincts are kicking in.
And what is the biggest maternal instinct? Caring.
Yet again, this study points the way that caring for your audience, your readers, your website visitors is fundamental to success. True, overall men are more influential than women – but that is to do with power and authority. The fact that single women and those aged over 31 exert even more influence than men in general implies something else is also happening. Combine authority (by being your subject expert) with caring for your audience and you are on to real influence.
As for the England team, they clearly need to appoint a single woman as manager. I wonder how that would work in the dressing room though?
- Your Social Influence and Why Marketers Care About It (mashable.com)
- How to Increase Social Influence Scores on Klout & More (searchenginewatch.com)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+