The Impact Equation: Measuring Your Social Influence

May 11, 2013 Content Marketing 1 comment

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How do you create waves in a world filled with zillions of blogs, Facebook updates, and tweets?

Why do some campaigns fly while others die?

If you’re clueless about the answer, consider reading The Impact Equation.

Written by social media savants Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, this seminal volume on content marketing reveals everything you need to know to generate attention, affection and action among the people you care about.

Namely, your customers and other stakeholders.

What is The Impact Equation?

Laced liberally with new economy examples such as Skylanders (from Activision), Instagram, Dollar Shave Club, Dolbeau, and Rachel Hawkins (a chick flick author), The Impact Equation showcases the esteemed authors’ experiences as purveyors of podcasts, blogs, and all things social.

At its core, the book focuses on a quasi-mathematical formula/acronym which goes like this:

Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

Let us dive into each of these components.


The first component Contrast (C) can be understood as the differentiation, positioning and unique value proposition of the idea.

In an attention-deficit economy, the only brands which stand out are those that offer something remarkable – a Purple Cow in a sea of “me-too” products and services.

Concepts embodied in Blue Ocean Strategy and The Lean Startup could be used to develop pioneering ideas that can rock markets eg. McCafe by McDonald’s which is giving Starbucks a run for its caffeine-laced bucks.


Next, we have Reach (R) – the most number of people you can connect with.

This is what most social media marketers focus on, and can be calculated by your number of followers, your subscribers and RSS readers, your “likes” on Facebook, and so on.

Naturally, the higher you reach, the better. However, numbers alone isn’t enough, and this brings us to our next attribute.


Exposure (E) talks about how often you truly connect to your network.

The trick is to hit people again and again until they take positive action – not delete your email/invitations/you from their lives!

To prevent over-saturation, seek to understand what your audiences truly want and customise your content for each channel. Done correctly, the right form of exposure leads to stronger engagement.


Next, we have Articulation (A) which is all about crafting content that sizzles – not fizzle.

Brevity is an advantage. So is simplicity in writing.Tools such as mind maps can be useful in building a visual representation of your ideas.

You should also identify kindred spirits (people more likely to identify with a message), combine your emotion with information, and use the “being the X of Y” method (eg Paris of the East) to effectively convey your ideas in a catchy and easily remembered way.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Trust (T).

Without trust, everything else falls apart. After Contrast, Trust is one of the key dimensions of online success.

Trust is so important that it has its own equation (adapted from The Trusted Advisor):

C * R * I / S = TRUST where
C = Credibility
R = Reliability
I = Intimacy
S = Self-interest

Credibility means what you say is backed by your CV and experience, while Reliability is seen in how you deliver what you promise.

Intimacy is reflected in the closeness of your relationships and how likeable you are, while Self-interest acts as a force divider. The more self-oriented/ selfish you are, the less trust you’re likely to get. Thus, you should seek to be as generous as possible to build trust (seek to give rather than receive).


Finally, Echo (E) is about generating resonance amongst your followers.

Here, you should use the language of your network, find common ground and share what you really feel.

Being friendly and responsive to your fans also helps. Your messages should also be whittled down to their core essence, and enriched with emotional language and relevant examples.

Last but certainly not least, you should also learn how to manage criticisms. Rather than delete all negative comments (a big “no-no” in social media), you could respond to negative feedback and find a way to address genuine concerns. Having said that, trolls who are adamant on damaging one’s reputation should be decisively dealt with.


Admittedly, The Impact Equation is more anecdotal than analytical.

Several of its ideas are borrowed from the world of pop marketing culture, while others seem to be just pure common sense.

Having said that, the beauty of having an easily remembered equation is that it tends to stick more easily to your cranium in an “over-saturated” marketplace of ideas.

In summary, The Impact Equation provides a useful guide to how content can be created – and curated – to generate the greatest impact. Laced with examples from the world of content marketing, it teaches you how to raise your ante in the relentless battle for attention.

The book is a gem if you’re clueless about how you can make a difference with your content.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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