Influencer analysis has really come into it’s own in the last 12 months and I see this being a huge growth industry in 2011. A few weeks back I highlighted Klout’s push to be come the default influence analysis grader online and now, thanks to Brian Solis, I’ve since tried out PeerIndex, which does a very similar thing.
Although their business model looks to be based around selling access to influencer lists, PeerIndex has set up sample rankings for various topics, such as environmental issues. It’s quite cute – though obviously you don’t get to see under the hood.
I looked at their social media influencer list and, although it only showed a sample of 5 of the top 50 most influential people discussing social media, I was still a little disappointed (see above). Although the people mentioned definitely have credentials, I wouldn’t have picked any of them in my top 50. Maybe that’s the beauty of it. Maybe machines are better than mankind after all. Maybe.
And then there’s PostRank Connect, which looks fascinating and aims to do a similar thing (though I haven’t tried it personally, yet) and a “nifty little service cooked up by Edelman” called TweetLevel, which does pretty much what Klout does, but without the fanfare.
These tools are obviously limited to gauging online influence, rather than absolute influence, but they still provide a useful service in sifting through the millions of content spammers, plagiarists, snake oil salesmen and self publicists you’ll find clogging up the cyberwaves. Traackr also provides a similar service to the paid version of PeerIndex and I’ve heard good things about the results.
The standard business alternative to these free or paid influencer analysis tools is to pay an agency to analyse an industry for you and provide a list of the top 50 influencers – at a cost upwards of $20k . Evidently, this is ludicrous if your industry is likely to have influencers online, which the majority of industries today do.
There is an alternative though: simply to get online and start interacting with the movers and shakers in a specific industry yourself. Set up a few Twitter keyword searches or get a low-cost monitoring tool (Uvbervu or ViralHeat) and do the same. Within a few weeks of genuine engagement you’ll soon start identifying the online infuencers. Importantly, you’ll have bridged the chasm that influencer tools leave you staring at – i.e. how to actually engage with the influencers once you’ve identified them. After all, what use is knowing someone’s important if you can’t connect with them?