As Twitter usage has grown, people have tried to quantify how influential some tweeters are, and I have started to incorporate two of the more commonly used tools, Klout and PeerIndex, into my work in B2B PR in the construction sector.
Klout’s strapline is “The standard for online influence“, while PeerIndex aims to help you “understand your social capital“. The exact workings of each system’s algorithm are, of course, closely guarded secrets (and subject to considerable blogger analysis and comment – see this post and comments, for example, and this), but they are, I think, a step forward from simply measuring how many followers a particular user has or how many times they tweet.
I used the platforms in a recent social media workshop for a client, and both proved useful. Klout accurately described the client organisation as an ‘explorer’ still finding their feet in social media, while PeerIndex helped the organisation see where it stood in comparison with others it regarded as competitors. As that client integrates Twitter and other social media activities into its future communications, these tools will give metrics that can be used in periodic audits to report on what progress is being made.
Of the two systems, I have spent more time exploring PeerIndex, partly because it allows users to curate groups of Twitter users and rank them according to their influence. In the past month, I have featured in two such lists:
- the PR Week Power Players of Social Media UK (where my current index of 63 apparently puts me in the top 20), and
- the #tCnTop100 – Top tweeters in UK Built Environment published recently in Construction News (in the snapshot published in the magazine, I was 8th, but in the real-time version have since risen to 5th).
[Disclosure: I helped create the tCnTop100 as an advisor to tCn: the Construction Network. I also provided, on tCn’s behalf, a short opinion piece forConstruction News to help explain why Twitter could be useful to construction folk.]
How useful is PeerIndex?
While reaction to the first tCnTop100 has been mixed among bloggers in the architecture, engineering and construction sectors, it attracted a lot of interest. Judging from the Twitter traffic (423 tweets of the #tcnTop100 hashtag in the 24 hours following publication; over 2000 page views of the live Top 100 –source), many of those included in the listing were delighted to feature and to get their name in Construction News, etc, but others were left wondering why they were apparently excluded or only rated modestly influential. Some even went as far as calling it broken – but PeerIndex is still developing and improving its algorithm and I suspect any future repeat of the exercise will be more useful. Meanwhile, the tCnTop100 has given a good impression of the diversity of industry people using Twitterand so may encourage more to:
a) start using Twitter, and
b) to start using Twitter more often and/or more appropriately as part of their B2B communications and, as a result, to become regarded as influential.
So, it’s not totally perfect, but it’s a start. It has usefully stimulated some debate about how to use Twitter as part of B2B communications, and it has done a lot to raise the profile of tCn and to drive traffic to Construction News‘ website(the tCnTop100 is one of few pages that are not covered by CN’s paywall, though free registration is required). The test of how useful it’s been will be if and when the process is repeated in 12 months time.