Published 17 October 2012
Why do we write blogs? Who are they really for? If you found out that only a couple of people read each post, would you continue to blog?
I like to think that I would. I started my blog to keep my mind focused on a specific area and ensure that I didn’t let my love of wine and technology descend into drinking the latest “special offer” from Tesco and just talking about the next iPhone release.
But, regardless of motive, I still like to think that people read my posts. And however self-satisfying writing a blog is, it can’t be denied that there is a part of me that hopes I have some influence on my audience – however small the influence and audience.
It is this kind of desire that firms like PeerIndex and Klout understand. They know that our egos want to be told who we influence and on which topics. They also feed our competitive nature by telling us who scores higher and who influences us (although it’s worth pointing out that people don’t have to have a higher score to be considered an influence).
Like IQ, social influence is a difficult area to assess. Who has more influence: Bob (whose blog is read by 1 person but results in a sale) or Mary (whose post is read by 2,000 but has no effect)?
The historic problem with most scoring systems was that you had a single score which was compared to everyone else. But this is an apples and pears situation: what is the benefit of comparing my score with someone who is a writer on medical matters? I might have a higher score, but I bet he’d have a greater impact on the sale of pharmaceuticals.
PeerIndex improves on this position. Their system reports my score of various topics: my overall score of 57 is much less significant/useful than my topical scores of 65 in ‘Leisure & Lifestyle’ and 0 in ‘Health & Medical’. This breakdown is much more useful to judge influence, although I’d like to see it broken down even further.
Another draw of PeerIndex is PeerPerks. These are promotions where PeerIndex teams up with companies to give away products to active social users. The purpose is often to introduce new or lesser known products, such as Kopi coffee and Social Pantry, but sometimes includes better known brands. The most recent PeerPerk is from Guinness, which is giving away six Guinness tumblers and a chance to win a trip to Dublin in a private jet!
PeerIndex openly states, under the heading ‘Get stuff’, that “the more active you are on social media, the more stuff you will receive”. This embraces the theory proposed by writers such as Clay Shirky that directing attention to the most influential social users is a sensible strategy. The hope is that, upon receiving free samples, these influencers will like them so much that they’ll tell everyone about them; although there is obviously no contractual obligation for them to write positively about them.
PeerIndex’s CEO, Azeem Azhar, clearly understands this as he says “Social media is bringing to the fore those hidden patterns of influence that happen in every day conversations and are helping us identify what we call the magic middle – ordinary people who have a disproportionate ability to be passionate, authentic, engaged in a subject and have their friends listen about it. We can identify the magic middle in social media and start to do interesting things for them.”
So get blogging, tweeting, photo-sharing, checking-in, pinning to ensure that you get “free stuff” in the future. Oh, and if you win the trip to Dublin, don’t forget me!
PeerIndex has just released an improved user-interface and is planning on rolling out more functionality in the near future that promises to offer further insights into user’s “reputation economy” – what they mean by that only time will tell …