This interview was originally posted on Mark Evans Tech.

Last month (was it really last month!) at the mesh conference, I had a chance to sit down with Edelman’s David Armano about the growing focus and importance of influence within the social media landscape. David provides some thoughts on what’s happening, why there is so much interest, and the tools to harness influence and influencers.

The influence panel with Armano and Valeria Maltoni was a good conversation but it felt like a good meal in which you later feel hungry. There was terrific insight and discussion but what I think the panel illustrated is influence is still an elusive beast that no one has a handle on yet.

The biggest challenge with influence and influencers is they’re moving targets. While there are some people who are clearly influencers due to their stature or following, the influence landscape is fluid – influencers come and go, they emerge out of nowhere and then disappear just as quickly. This makes identifying and engaging with influencers a constant challenge and struggle.

And although there’s plenty of excitement about influence tools such as Klout.com, there is no definitive or dominant tool…yet. A growing number of companies are approaching influence in different ways so I expect the market will start to evolve much like the social media monitoring market slowly emerged and then exploded.

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