Mar 1, 2011

The issue with automated influence lists like Public Relations 2.0

Free twitter badgeImage via WikipediaLots of people keep talking about how "influence" cannot be reduced to mere numbers. How algorithms cannot capture the essence of why people are influenced and by whom.

Here's again how it was brought home to me. The folks at traackr who track the conversations on the social web around various topics, have listed me number 19 in the Public Relations 2.0 list. To be fair the break up of the score shows my "relevance" score to be a measly 10 - and the only reason it is there is because I tweet sometimes on the areas of intersection of Public Relations and Social Media. But still, me being on that list puts the system of such lists in question.

I mean, the list doesn't have heavy hitters in the PR domain from India, like Palin, Karthik S or Surekha Pillai, two of whom have much larger number of followers on Twitter than me, and one who blogs and tweets more about Public Relations than I do.

Ultimately, my advice to businesses who might be relying on such tools (others being Klout, Twitalyzer and Peerindex) to make decisions about online influencers - they are a good starting point to point to influencers, but even they can't be the top of the funnel. Human intervention is still needed to understand who the influencers are - and while its early days for the tools yet, the only way they can go is up.

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