I write this post with some trepidation, because we have come up with a new list and lists I have learned are controversial. Some weeks ago Jonny Bentwood who runs tech analyst relations at Edelman’s London office and I were debating influence and how the Facebook phenomena has changed things. 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.

So we thought we would have a bash at measuring it. Underlying this attempt is the presumption that a cumulative and comparative score can be assigned for an individual’s use of the various social media platforms that are available. That is no small presumption and the assigning of mechanical scores is a blunt instrument to say the least. How do you compare the influence of a Hugh MacLeod cartoon to a Robert Scoble tech review? Technorati say this about their methodology: “On the World Live Web, bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating the type of immediate connection one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks these links, and thus the relative relevance of blogs, photos, videos etc”. So putting numbers to these things and assuming a level of influence from them is not exactly new.

What we have tried to do is add some new ways of measuring influence via platforms like Twitter and Facebook to blog scores. This is definitely adding apples to oranges we admit. So for example, we are placing a score for Facebook depending on the number of friends someone has. For Twitter, it is the number of friends, followers and updates. And if that is not insulting enough, we are then coming to a comparative weighting of someone’s Facebook score against their Twitter and blogging score. And the most sinful step is of course the final one where we have added those scores together and come up with a total Social Media Index. Which is an A list or a league table by another name I suppose. But we are not claiming it is definitive (how can it be with as many value judgements as I just confessed too) and we’re not entirely sure if the thesis itself will stand up. What we hope to do by this is to contribute to the debate and (and if possible) come to a community view of how you look at this. Why? Well, for us it is part of our business and I make no apology about that. Measurement is central to what we do and social media is massively powerful and we need to understand it to do our jobs. Many people do not like this and for them there is no good way of describing this.

So stage one; we created a Top 30 bloggers list from CNET Blog 100, Times Top 50 Business Blogs, Power 150 Top Marketing Blogs, Friendly Ghost Top PR Blogs and Technobabble 2.0 Top Analyst Blogs. A familiar enough grouping, but if you look along the top line you will see the new platforms we intend to combine with this listing.

Top 30 Blog – SMI weighting: 100% blogs

  Name blog multi format mini updates business cards visual favourites social media index

1

TechCrunch

98

0

0

0

0 0

98

2 Search Engine Watch 98

0

0

0

0 0 98
3 Boing Boing 98

0

0

0

0 0 98

4

GigaOM

97

0

0

0

0 0

97

5

Micro Persuasion

96

0

0

0

0 0

96

6

Scobeleizer

96

0

0

0

0 0

96

7

Scripting News

96

0

0

0

0 0

96

8 John Battelle’s Searchblog 96

0

0

0

0 0 96
9 Techdirt 96

0

0

0

0 0 96
10 Pronet Advertising 96

0

0

0

0 0 96

11

Gaping Void

95

0

0

0

0 0

95

12

Marketing Pilgrim

95

0

0

0

0 0

95

13

Online Marketing Blog

95

0

0

0

0 0 95
14 Copyblogger 95

0

0

0

0 0 95

15

Buzz Machine

94

0

0

0

0 0

94

16 SEOmoz Blog 94

0

0

0

0 0 94
17 Jonathan’s Blog 94

0

0

0

0 0 94
18 The Blog Herald 94

0

0

0

0 0 94
19 direct2dell.com 93

0

0

0

0 0 93
20 Romenesko 93

0

0

0

0 0 93
21 PaidContent.org 92

0

0

0

0 0 92
22 Secret Diary of Steve Jobs 92

0

0

0

0 0 92

23

Web Strategy by Jeremiah

91

0

0

0

0 0 91

24

Adrants

91

0

0

0

0 0

91

25 Seth Godin 91

0

0

0

0 0 91
26 Logic+Emotion 91

0

0

0

0 0 91
27 tompeters! 91

0

0

0

0 0 91
28 GrokDotCom 91

0

0

0

0 0 91

29

PSFK

89

0

0

0

0 0

89

30 adfreak 89

0

0

0

0 0 89

This next chart is the same 30 people, but now we have added individual scores for their use of non-blogging platforms and in the final column come to a total Social Media Index or score for them. Here’s how we did that:

Each person has been given a score out of 10 based upon 6 criteria:

  • Blog – analysed Google Rank, inbound links, subscribers, alexa rank, content focus, frequency of updates, number of comments
  • Multi-format – analysed Facebook – number of friends
  • Mini-updates – analysed Twitter – number of friends, followers and updates
  • Business cards – analysed LinkedIn – number of contacts
  • Visual – analysed Flickr – number of photos uploaded from the person/s or about the person/s
  • Favourites – analysed Digg, del.icio.us

Each score out of 10 was the given the following weighting across the categories : Blog – 30%; Multi-format – 20%; Mini-updates – 25%, Business cards – 7%, Visual – 3%; Favourites – 15% which created a total score for each category. The sum of each of these numbers created an individual’s Social Media Index. Clear as mud. And about as appetising for some I suspect, because the weighting system is massively subjective. I repeat, it is our first stab at it and we are interested in your take.

And these results are vaguely embarrassing for us too, because the conspiracy minded will have noticed that Edelman’s own Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion fame is (drum roll) number one in this (surprise, surprise) Edelman league table. And we know how well that will go down. But the fact is he is so prolific across all platforms it is what it is. Personally I think he needs to do some client work some time.

Top 30 Blogs – SMI tiered weighting
Weighting: Blog – 30%; Multi-format – 20%; Mini-updates – 25%, Business cards – 7%, Visual – 3%; Favourites – 15%

  Name blog multi format mini updates business cards visual favourites social media index

1

Micro Persuasion

29 17 25 7 2 13 93
2

TechCrunch

29 20 22 0 3 13 87
3

Scobeleizer

29 20 25 0 3 9 86

4

GigaOM

29 20 13 7 3 13 85
5

Gaping Void

28 20 22 3 2 5 80
6

Scripting News

29 16 25 4 2 4 79
7

Web Strategy by Jeremiah

27 15 24 6 3 2 77
8

PSFK

27 16 14 0 3 12 72
9

Marketing Pilgrim

28 8 15 6 2 7 67
10

Adrants

27 5 19 4 1 8 64
11

Online Marketing Blog

28 15 12 0 2 5 62
12

John Battelle’s Searchblog

29 17 0 7 3 5 61
13

Buzz Machine

28 20 0 5 2 5 61
14

Copyblogger

28 13 3 0 0 8 53
15

Seth Godin

27 5 0 0 3 9 45
16

Techdirt

29 0 0 0 3 11 42
17 SEOmoz Blog 28

0

0

5 3 5 41
18 Search Engine Watch 29

0

0

0

0 9 38
19 Boing Boing 29

0

0

0

3 5 38
20 Jonathan’s Blog 28 1

0

0

2 4 36
21 PaidContent.org 27

0

0

0

3 4 34
22 Secret Diary of Steve Jobs 27

0

0

0

0 6 34
23 adfreak 27

0

0

0

0 6 32
24 The Blog Herald 28

0

0

0

0 3 31
25 direct2dell.com 28

0

0

0

0 3 31
26 Pronet Advertising 29

0

0

0

0 2 31
27 Romenesko 28

0

0

0

0 3 31
28 Logic+Emotion 27

0

0

0

1 2 30
29 tompeters! 27

0

0

0

0 3 30
30 GrokDotCom 27

0

0

0

0 3 30

But this list just orders in a new way, a list of top bloggers. We then looked wider a-field to try and come up with a more pure Social Media Index where we have added top scorers not restricted to the blogging top 30. Same methodology, just a wider catchment group. Yes and Steve is still number one.

Top 30 social media index
Weighting: Blog – 30%; Multi-format – 20%; Mini-updates – 25%, Business cards – 7%, Visual – 3%; Favourites – 15%

  Name blog multi format mini updates business cards visual favourites social media index

1

Micro Persuasion

29

17

25

7

2

13

93

2

TechCrunch

29

20

22

0

3

13

87

3

Scobeleizer

29

20

25

0

3

9

86

4

GigaOM

29

20

13

7

3

13

85

5

Gaping Void

28

20

22

3

2

5

80

6

Scripting News

29

16

25

4

2

4

79

7

Web Strategy by Jeremiah

27

15

24

6

3

2

77

8

/Message

25

20

23

0

3

6

76

9

POP! PR Jots

21

19

23

6

2

3

72

10

PSFK

27

16

14

0

3

12

72

11

James Governor’s Monkchips

26

12

21

5

1

6

71

12

hyku | blog

23

15

20

5

2

3

68

13

Ars Technica

18

16

25

2

3

4

67

14

Marketing Pilgrim

28

8

15

6

2

7

67

15

Marketing Nirvana

23

16

15

6

2

4

65

16

a shel of my former self

24

15

15

5

2

4

65

17

Adrants

27

5

19

4

1

8

64

18

People over Process

23

5

23

5

1

5

63

19

What’s Next Blog

25

5

23

1

2

6

63

20

Strumpette

24

15

21

0

1

2

62

21

Online Marketing Blog

28

15

12

0

2

5

62

22

John Battelle’s Searchblog

29

17

0

7

3

5

61

23

Buzz Machine

28

20

0

5

2

5

61

24

Tecosystems

24

4

17

5

3

6

59

25

The Groundswell

26

11

12

6

0

4

58

26

Marketing Begins at Home

20

12

18

4

3

1

58

27

Common Sense PR

20

15

15

3

0

4

57

28

PR meets the WWW

19

12

15

4

1

5

56

29

Russell Davies

25

0

22

0

3

6

56

30

Drew’s Marketing Minute

26

5

17

6

0

1

56

So what does this last list mean? The overwhelming majority of new entrants to this more ‘pure’ Social Media Index are individuals which is probably not surprising given that corporates or even collectives don’t really use Twitter or Facebook . . . people do. Obviously each platform has different primary functions and some are much more personal (Facebook) than others. But bloggers quite openly use Twitter and Facebook and MySpace to market their blog posts and many blogs these days have widgets cross marketing the individual’s Facebook or Twitter profiles. And the personal and the professional was a line blurred for many of us years ago.

There are of course many platforms that we did not include in this, like MySpace, Jaiku and Pownce and of course this list is very English-language centric and includes none of the local social sites which dominate in countries like Korea and Germany. We may well do this in draft two depending on what people think, but for now we thought we had enough in for the basis of this to be discussed.

Obviously Jonny Bentwood and myself will be delighted to get your feedback. If people think it is worth trying to come to some sort of wider community consensus on this we can look at putting that to a wiki or even hosting some sort of debate at a later date.

Methodology

a) Blogs

Google PageRank

Google PageRank is a link analysis algorithm that interprets web links and assigns a numerical weighting to each site. High-quality sites receive a higher PageRank. The ranking uses the actual PageRank as part of its algorithm.

Bloglines Subscribers

Bloglines displays the amount of subscribers each blog has to its feed(s). Subscriber ranges were determined and each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

Technorati Ranking

Technorati ranking relates the authority of a particular blog (via the number of sites pointing to it). The more link sources referencing your blog, the higher the Technorati ranking. Similar to the Bloglines Subscribers value, and each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

Content/Frequency/Comments

Scores with strict criteria were assigned to content focus, frequency of posts and number of comments. The combined score was used as part of the algorithm.

Alexa Ranking

Alexa ranks web pages based on usage of millions of people. It is a combined measure of page views and users (reach). As a first step, Alexa computes the reach and number of page views for all sites on the Web on a daily basis. The main Alexa traffic rank is based on the geometric mean of these two quantities averaged over time (so that the rank of a site reflects both the number of users who visit that site as well as the number of pages on the site viewed by those users). Ranks closer to 0 have been assigned a high number that was used as part of the algorithm.

b) Multi-Format

Facebook Ranking

As a multi-format tool, Facebook was selected to identify a persons influence/popularity. Other formats such as MySpace could be used at a latter date. The number of friends was determined and each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

c) Mini-Updates

Twitter Friends and Followers Ranking

As a multi-format tool, Twitter was selected to identify a persons influence/popularity. Other formats such as Pownce could be used at a latter date. The number of friends and followers were combined to determine a total friends and followers score. Each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

Twitter Updates Ranking

The number of twitter updates was determined and each range was assigned a number which was combined with the friends and followers score to give a total that was used as part of the algorithm.

d) Business Cards

LinkedIn Ranking

For Business Cards, LinkedIn was selected to identify a persons influence/popularity. Other formats such as Plaxo could be used at a latter date. The number of connections was determined and each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

e) Visual

Flickr Ranking

For visual tools, Flickr was selected to identify a persons influence/popularity. Other formats such as YouTube could be used at a latter date. The number of pictures about uploaded about an individual or about that person was identified and assigned a number. Each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

f) Favourites

Digg Score

The number of Digg’s an individual has had was identified and assigned a number. Each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

Del.icio.us Own Library

The number of pages in an individuals own del.icio.us library was identified and assigned a number. Each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

Del.icio.us Others Library

The number of pages of an individuals own postings that have been saved in other users’ del.icio.us library was identified and assigned a number. Each range was assigned a number that was used as part of the algorithm.

Moving forward other tools such as Reddit will be included to make the scoring more complete.

g) Flexible weighting

Each specific social media outlet listed above was given a standard score out of 10. Using a flexible weighting scale it is possible to vary the importance of the different tools available and consequently establish different total scores of individuals web influence. For the table listed above the following weightings were used:

Blogs 30%
Multi-Format (e.g. Facebook) 20%
Mini-Updates (e.g. Twitter) 25%
Business Cards (e.g. LinkedIn) 7%
Visual (e.g. Flickr) 3%
Favourites (e.g. Digg, del.icio.us) 15%

The weighting scale listed above was created through discussions with several key new media gurus. I do not anticipate this weighting scale to be the final standard and welcome everyone’s views as to what this should be.

Future copies of the Social Media Index will allow you to assign your own subjective weightings to the index to establish your own score.