David Brain, President & CEO of Edelman PR, created a stir on his SixtySecondView blog when he published this “Social Media Index“; an attempt to measure the influence and footprint of various marketers and their blogs. Lo and behold, GrokDotCom made the list of Top 30 blogs.
It’s OK, you can hold the applause. We did.
Sure, it’s flattering to be on any list that suggests you’re a top blog, but what does this say about influence? Things get more dubious once channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are used to assess influence.
Here’s what David Brain had to say:
When people talked about on-line influence in the past they were often referring to bloggers and Technorati scores, though obviously influence was always more complicated than that. But now with the increasing mass adoption of Twitter and Facebook and favourites listings like Digg and Del.icio.us things have moved on. Bloggers Twitter and Facebookers Dig. Many of us are multi-platform users and so our online ‘footprint’ is much more dispersed.
Hmm… Is “dispersed” naturally better, even for PR folk like Steve Rubel, an Edelman SVP whose Micro Persuasion blog ranked #5 on Edelman’s “Top Blogs” list and #1 on its “Social Media Index”? And why should bloggers who don’t use Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to engage readers care about Edelman’s index? Such measures are worthless in the case of influential multi-author blogs like SearchEngineLand or TechCrunch, where individual self-promotion tactics — e.g., hosting a Twitter widget, or linking to one’s Facebook account — would be irrelevant to readers. Of course, Rubel & company thinks these tactics are influential.
So, do we really need a blog-ranking index to account for Twitter activity between Rubel and Robert Scoble? Isn’t it enough they’re bombarding some 5,900 “followers” — as Rubel phrases it — with micro-minutia? You mean that’s “social media,” not plain-old broadcasting?
I asked Jeffrey what he thought about Twitter being used to measure influence, knowing full-well I’d get something like this:
…Twitter’s about as important as a pimple on a mole on an elephant’s a$$ in the real world. Marketers, without exception, overestimate their importance to their audience. It’s an occupational hazard. Early adopters are even worse. Blogging is important, but not truly mainstream yet. The Wall Street Journal, which has no social networking, is still more influential than Boing Boing. We all need to get over it.
Some might disagree, but there isn’t much life in Edelman’s index. That being said, it is interesting, if not problematic. They’ve simply taken a list with questionable value and filtered it through the lens which most interests them — and that’s fine. But what of other influential media channels like newsletters, forums, or books? How could Twitter activity be a greater measure of influence than something as concrete as book sales?
Everyone loves lists. We love lists. Sometimes we agree with Steve. Sometimes we don’t. He’s an opinionated guy, and we respect that, but is Rubel’s Web 2.0 platform more influential than Seth Godin’s blog and book platform? In the “twitterverse,” perhaps. In the world where people take money out of their wallets to pay for ideas, no.
Edelman thinks he is.