Saturday 12 February 2011

Authority And The Web Of Influence

Trend Influence

Finding great content on-line is hard even with Google, Bing or Blekko to hand identifying the best resources on the web is not that straight forward!

With the rise of social networks you were suddenly able to find and follow people of interest, leading to the discovery of new websites or content which you may not have picked up on by just reading industry news sites or blogs. I know through the sites and networks i belong to i have been able to find and learn about new technologies faster than i ever was with just the blogs i follow, and this has been excellent in terms of expanding my knowledge and resources I use.

One of the best things about this is the fact that you are not necessarily reliant on following those famous people everyone knows about or journalists. It has opened up a market of amateur enthusiasts, industry professionals and people keen to share their knowledge and made them easy to find.

Now that there is all this sharing going on, how do you know who the best people to follow are? Or even out of the people you interact with who are the most influential and in what areas?

Question mark in Esbjerg

Two companies i have become aware of trying to answer this question are: PeerIndex and Klout. Both services are similar in that once signed in they give you a score out of 100 with that being the best. Klout looks at your Twitter and Facebook profiles whereas PeerIndex covers Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs or sites of your choosing.

At present I think PeerIndex is slightly better because of the wider range of services and sites covered as i feel this gives a move rounded take on your on-line life, I also like their interface a little better but you should take a look at both before trusting me.

So what does it mean having a score out of 100 for your social and on-line behaviour? Well so far not much both systems sort of give you information on how likely people are to act on what you say, pass on the message etc. If your into trying to understand how effective your Tweets / FaceBook Mesages /Blog posts are then they give you a different perspective to something like URL shorterns stats or your favourite analytics package.

Where things start to get interesting however is when other services make use of there API's, Datasift which i talked out the the other week allows you to filter data based on a persons Klout or PeerIndex score so all of a sudden one can filter data for the most "influential" people talking about BMW's for instance. Advertisers could then use this to target messages or approach people to promote products? People could use it to look at brands, products, schools, political parties and then start to ranking them.

Although i am not strictly sure this would be seen as OK imagine a HR or recruitment system integrated with this sort of information you could suddenly find your worth being decided by a random number some web service has assigned to you. I can just see reports of people not only combing twitter and facebook for details on potential new employees but then taking those handles and plugging them back into services like these for more insight into if they are the right fit for a business.

That being said I do think both services are useful although not perfect yet you can see that what they are trying to achieve could be helpful in the future. If you think about some of the things search engines are starting to take into account when ranking content such as Twitter and Facebook data you can understand that there is value in what you say and share on these services and that can impact the wider world. Being able to identify people of authority on different subjects or who have the ability to influence is important not only for search results but also in helping people connect and learn about new subjects or make decisions.

To find out more and see my score:

API pages:
PeerIndex Developers
Klout Developers