Return on Influence (Book Review)

Return on Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing by Mark Schaefer (A book review by Alvin Plexico, PhD).

Nowadays you can’t visit a bookstore (in person or online) without running into a wall full of advice from a social media expert, online marketing specialist or my favorite, “Twitter guru.” Ten years ago a person who was a self-appointed Twitter guru would have been laughed at.  Today, it’s a label that some have chosen to make themselves sound like they know more than they really do.

Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer) does not refer to himself as a guru of anything. Instead, he offers practical advice along with relevant and funny observations to help others harness the power of social media. You may have heard of his book, The Tao of Twitter.  Schaefer uses the same skills and easy-to-understand style in his latest book, Return on Influence. He starts out with good background information, which he calls the roots of influence. This background is helpful because it lays the foundation for the practical advice he offers throughout the book.

Schaefer’s advice is based on case studies, his own experience, and the experiences of more than 50 people he interviewed for the book. Some of those he recommends following include Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan), Laura Click (lauraclick), Amy Howell (@howellmarketing), Robert Scoble (@scobleizer), and Jessica Turner (@jessicanturner).

Some of the practical advice is aimed at individuals, but most of the tools will be of interest to those who use social media on behalf of an organization. This is apparent in Schaefer’s subtitle for the book, The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing. By the way, if you haven’t explored Klout yet, I encourage you to do so. It may not be perfect, but it is considered by many to be the standard for online influence.

Schaefer doesn’t just share information about Klout, he provides keys to improving your score. Keys like build a relevant network, provide compelling content, and engage influencers. This is great advice for any communicator, so it’s reassuring to see it works for online communication as well.

Just for fun, I looked up the score of Klout’s CEO and Cofounder, Joe Fernandez. It’s a 63. Respectable, but not off the chart like some celebrities and other big names in social media. I found this reassuring for two reasons. First of all, it shows a level of honesty in the system. Secondly, it’s on par with others who use (but don’t abuse) social media to share information online. I also love Fernandez’s tagline, “just trying to get enough beans to make a burrito.” It’s entertaining, which is one of the words of wisdom Schaefer offers.

Other Schaefer pearls of practical advice include making your content relevant, interesting, and timely. Not exactly new information, but solid advice for novice and long-time social media users alike. He also puts the advice in an easy-to-remember acronym – RITE. This kind of helpful information is spread throughout the book and summarized in appendices that I will refer to often as I try to create content that is relevant, interesting, timely, and entertaining.

My good friend, Jeff Nichols (@Jeff_Nichols_82), heard Schaefer speak at the INTEGRATE conference hosted by the West Virginia University Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program. Schaefer is just as informative and entertaining as a speaker as he is a writer. In addition to reading Schaefer’s latest book, I also recommend following him at

This book review was completed by Alvin Plexico, PhD. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this review, nor was I asked to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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