In the past 10 years the world of Digital PR has grown at a frantic pace. It is now widely accepted that being online is not just the sign of a modern, innovative organisation, but a necessity for life in the modern world. The thing is, we are able to understand the importance of being online, but otherwise, we do not really understand how digital PR works.
I think this is brilliantly demonstrated through Michael White’s post on Facebook. Another important area which suffers from much confusion is measuring online influence. Undoubtedly there are loads of benefits to being influential online, from raised awareness of your cause, to increasing online sales. From a student perspective, having online influence can be a good way to gain opportunities and begin working life at an advantage.
How can we measure influence? Influence is subjective, it depends upon a combination of audiences, platforms and messages. There are a number of services available which will measure your online influence including Klout, PeerIndex and Kred. Each one taking your online activity and interactions then grading them according to their own specifications, the results is a number which represents your online influence. How accurate is it though?
Let us look at Social Student, a list of the most influential PR students in the UK compiled by Richard Bailey at Behind the Spin. The list uses PeerIndex and Klout in order to determine the influence of all active British PR students on Twitter. After a few shakey weeks trying to establish the list, it soon took a good shape and now I would say the list is a pretty decent representation of active Tweeting students. In this case you could say that measuring influence has been successful. It is important to note that this should not be the only form of measuring influence, there will be plenty of future PR stars who are active on Twitter but do not feature on the list.
The thing is, while Klout and PeerIndex can offer a guide to influence it is widely accepted that they cannot measure it. A post on Mashable defines influence at:
Influence = (Personal Brand * Knowledge * Trust2)
It explains that this can be measured through engagement, incoming links, incoming traffic, connections, recommendations etc. This goes back to the idea of systems like Klout and PeerIndex being able to measure your influence.
Brian Solis recently published a report on digital influence (available here) in which he claims that sites such as Klout and PeerIndex do not measure influence, but in fact they measure the individual’s capacity to influence. Influence is subjective and does rely on the nature of people, which is something that is hard, to impossible to program a system to measure. However the sites do show how influential a person is able to be, a very useful piece of data. If you realised you had the capacity to be influential, would you not take advantage of it?
The rising importance of digital influence will continue to shape the online world, and we are certain to see more, new and improved influence measuring tools. How do you think we can measure influence?
- Klout Doesn’t Really Measure Influence [STUDY] (mashable.com)
- Klout CEO Reveals How to Leverage Score for Fame, Fortune, Perks (mashable.com)
- Is Klout Operating Illegally? (thesocialweb.co.uk)
- Facebook is not a PR Godsend (mikewhite.co.uk)
- Klout and PeerIndex Don’t Measure Influence. Brian Solis Explains What They Actually Do (techcrunch.com)
- The Rise of Digital Influence – Report (serve4impact.com)