I wasn’t going to post about my colleague Jonny Bentwood’s efforts to pull together a formula for measuring online influence until I’d read it. But as serendipity would have it, both Doc Searls and B.L. Ochman have both added to the debate.
First of all, in Can PR get past spinnage? Doc suggests that seeking to fit traditional metrics or measurement paradigms to a radically altered form of communication won’t cut it. Specifically:
“Focusing on influence alone suggests that PR is just looking to expand the spin business from old media to new, and from old targets to new ones. There are other corners of the prism, other angles to come at the problems and opportunities in around conversation and relationship…”
I agree entirely with this perspective. As I alluded to in a previous comment on Doc’s blog, the risk for the PR industry is that it attempts to re-model the social web into ways in which existing practices and business models continue to work.
This worries me. While the industry can talk about how this new medium has radically changed the communications landscape we can’t then pretend we can measure it in just the same way, using exactly the same metrics as before.
It won’t work.
Meanwhile B. L. Ochman argues that while her presence on another ‘Top 100/10/25 etc’ is flattering, lists in themselves are not an effective way of measuring popularity/influence/whatever:
“the criteria for each list is largely subjective, and, as soon as there’s a list, there’s someone who figures out how to game the list. Not to mention that most lists are created as a way for the creator to game search engines so the list-maker’s site will increase its search value. Therefore, just about all such lists are meaningless.”
Again, I agree. In fact perhaps lists are almost the wrong tool entirely to measure the social web.
The social web is multitudinous, easily sorted, filtered, and organised by abnd around the individual. It works in a million – and probably more – ways tghat can be adapted and re-shaped to a your personal perferences .
There doesn’t have to be just one way of organising something any more. And in this respect lists are exclusive rather than inclusive. That is proprietary – which is not how things are done any more.
Luckily for me both Doc and B. L. admit to not having the exact answer to this problem (is there one?). I’ll get back to you on that one!