Social Media Influencers in 2009.

I came across this through the wonder that is @jmacdonald and think it’s fantastic. I love predictions, because they are just that. Ideas, thoughts, views on the future. They aren’t gospel, no one is going to lose their jobs if their predictions don’t come true (well, actually, 600,000 might in 2009!) but when people / publications / companies of authority speaks out, others listen.
In the embedded slideshare presentation by TrendSpotting below and where the original article can be found here, such figures like Charlene Li, Rohit Bhargava, Jeremiah Owyang and Todd Defren are included, along with many more.

Are there any influencers that you think have been missed out?

Who are your ones to watch in 2009?

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: social media)

Who is the twitority online?

Question for you, leave me a comment at the end of the article with your answer.

Who is the twitority? (AKA Authority) ?

In short, firstly, twitority is a tool that lets you search Twitter posts and then filter the search results by authority. Check it out for yourself at twitority.com.

Back to the question, it’s not a trick. Are you an authority figure? If you said Yes, then in what? Who says? What qualifies the classification as an authority? Similarly, if you said No then why not? Chances are you’ll be more educated in your field than most if your job is in a space when your knowledge is important to your company. You’re an educator, so yes, you are an authority.

I’m fascinated by the idea of authority on an online space which is completely open and unmonitored. The idea of authority to me brings more questions than it answers.. There is no right or wrong answer so we’re going to try and shed more light on the situation with a host of quotes from various individuals who have authority in their fields.

Before that, let’s take school as an example of a place where there is a definite line between student and authority. Authority being the teacher or headmaster/mistress. Students are at school to learn and the teacher is there to impart their learnings, knowledge and wisdom on their students. The teacher has the authority to merit or discipline the student and the head of department or headmaster/ mistress has the authority over the teacher to overrule their decision. In it’s simplest form, that’s the hierarchy of school. Same can be applied to a business environment. CEO, Head of Dept X, Manager, Exec.

So when we’re used to hierarchy and authority, how can we apply this to an online space?

We can’t.

On the internet, it’s a free for all. Everyone is deemed equal. In turn, everyone is a specialist in something. Regardless of age, background, job title, online you can find out as much as you want about anything! When you’re looking for advice on buying a product, where do you look? The Internet proves to be the most important source for researching consumer electronics information for example, according to a survey conducted by Synovate on behalf of Microsoft Advertising.

Who are the people to ask for a valued opinion? How does the definition of authority differ and what can we learn? Here’s a few ideas.

“Authority is based on perception. Once an environment of trust is created between people or people and companies, authority can be authorized! As it is all relative there is no one single source, just 5 billion sources with a number greater than zero perceiving and therefore regarding each as an authority or not.”

- Jonathan MacDonald

Completely agree. It’s all subjective.

“Page rank is a surrogate for authority already based on the amount of inbound links as a vote.”

- Ged Carroll

One way for assessing authority currently is through the Google Page Rank. What is a Page Rank? It reflects the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that Google believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.

“I think trying to apply authority to twitterers based on followers is like trying to build a house out of spongecake.

Authority is EARNED and I just INHERENTLY know now whose word to trust on a particular topic when advice is sought.

It’s far more complex than being able to have an algorithm applied to it – any such algorithm’d be flawed. In fact so flawed as to be misleadlingly useless.”

- Drew Buddie

All good points, especially the house built out of sponge cake!

“It depends if they can truly measure authority by topic and not assume if you have lots of followers you have authority on all topics.”

- Kerry Gaffney

Nail. Head. I really believe in this.

“Calling me an idiot will increase your popularity but not your authority.

Explaining why I am an idiot will increase your authority but not necessarily your popularity.

If I call you an idiot I will be neither authoritative nor popular. Life isn’t fair! :-)”

- Robert Scoble

Following on from Kerry’s comment above, let’s take a well known example in the online world, Robert Scoble. I’ve got nothing at all against the guy, he’s one of the social media pioneers but I’m betting that the large majority out there would see him as an authority on anything and everything because of the numbers that read his blog or that follow him on Twitter (45,962 on last count). He puts it an interesting way himself above.

“You can only quantify authority so far in my opinion – so what if someone has 1000 followers, how many are actually listening?”

Paul Borge

This is key and brings me back to thinking about the old adage of quality over quantity. Also, links to my thoughts about ROA (Return on Attention) over the traditional ROI (Return on Investment) in Social Media when I spoke with Jamie Burke at P2PR in a previous blog post. In brief, my thoughts were that a project can be more successful by targeting the ‘right’ 100 people, instead of going for a general 1000. The ‘right’ 100 can in turn send the information on to 10 of their friends and so on, it’s a domino effect.

Finally,

“Popularity over time = Authority. Unfortunately it is meaningless. In 1905 who had more authority Einstein or Newton.. and who was right?”

- Anton Mannering

He’s got a point..

What’s your view? What do you think about the idea of a search engine based on authority? Is authority subjective? Is there a universal authority on topics?

The 5 stages of Twitter acceptance.

Originally published by Rohit Bhargava on his brilliant Influential Marketing Blog, I thought it was particularly useful to new users of Twitter whilst still appealing to the more frequent user. It essentially allows you to find out where you are at in the familiarity process of using Twitter. Still, when I tell friends and family about Twitter and how I think it’s fantastic, they look at me as if I’m from another planet.

They don’t get it. They are at Stage 1. That’s fair enough, it’s not for everyone, but it’s up to me to tell them what’s it all about and whether I think they would get any value from it. For some it just wouldn’t work, but for others it’s become a staple part of their online life who went from Stage 2 right through to Stage 5. There’s many out there like Guy Kawasaki for example who I’d say are at Stage 5 or even Stage 6 if there was one but choose to use it more as a promotional tool for his site Alltop.com. That’s more of a Stage 3 activity. There’s no denying that Guy is a true inspiration and offers value with his blog posts and tweets but he’s used Twitter to build up an army of Alltop fans that help him spread the Alltop word by posting links to new categories and interesting stuff. Nothing wrong with that, power to the people!

Talking of all things Alltop, a great place for beginners to start would have to be Twitterati which features the top ‘tweeters’ across the globe. For example, Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis, Chris Brogan, Leo Laporte, Chris Pirillo and Hugh MacLeod. Have a look and see how they do it, follow them, and get started!

So I bet you’re thinking Twitter is the new kid on the block, it’s a fad, it will all die down soon. It’s been around for a while, several years infact. Only now is it garnering mainstream attention. The Mirror picking up on Jonathan Ross’s presence on Twitter, or the Guardian’s coverage, or the Telegraph, you get the picture.

As the days go by, the numbers who are discovering Twitter is shooting up, it’s experiencing rapid growth YOY. A few stats.. everyone loves stats!

  • 70% of users joined in 2008.
  • 20% have joined in the last 60 days.
  • An estimated 5-10,000 new accounts are opening every day.
  • The average user has been on Twitter for 275 days.
  • 80% of users have a bio on their profile. (I personally don’t follow users without a bio)
  • 62% have a photo on their profile.
  • Traffic has grown 600% over the last 12 months.
  • Total user numbers are between 4-5m with approx 30% unengaged.

(Sources Hubspot and Compete)

It’s not there yet, but it’s getting towards reaching the tipping point. It has potential for business also, success stories are starting to emerge from well known brands who are establishing a presence and engaging with their audience. Perhaps most famously, Dell recently reported that they have made more than $1 million dollars through their DellOutlet Twitter account. It’s clear that there’s value to be had from many angles.

I use it myself as a way to 1) learn 2) converse 3) pass on any useful info or links i’ve found. It’s all about the community and sharing instead of finding a useful link and keeping it to yourself.

So what stage do you think you’re at from the 5 above? As a brand, do you have authentic 1 to 1 conversations without promoting a product or service? As an individual do you use it as an information resource or as a communications tool like Facebook or MSN?

My question to you, all of you, is How do you use Twitter?

Have a hugely enjoyable break, merry christmas and enjoy the new year.

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Lunchtime catchup with Jamie Burke of P2PR.

So I caught up with Jamie Burke, MD of Brando Digital and blogger at Social Glue the other day, who recently set up the P2PR community. Since launch it has been a runaway success, with active participation from it’s members.

We talked over lunch about all things Online PR, social media, paid for blogging (Chris Brogan) and of course ROI and the almighty echo chamber.

To view the video, click my face.. be nice ! (or alternatively you can click here if you can’t bring yourself to do it!)

There’s a whole host of videos also on the community, all of which can be found here.

As always, interested to hear your thoughts and feedback on the topics discussed. Hopefully you can take something away from it.

What does your Youniverse look like?

I found out about Youniverse through Dom Whitehurst’s blog over at Pr-otagonism so cheers for that Dom!

Youniverse gives you questions in which you don’t have to give an actual text answer, it’s all about the choice of images that best represents your thoughts and emotions towards the question. In turn, it anticipates that you’ll have a better idea of the type of people you will get on with most if they answer similarly to the questions. Going a bit deeper, it tells you more about yourself. It’s one of those fact finding, personality questionnaire types.

If you look past the ever so slightly off putting dating and relationship finding type vibe the site gives off in abundance it does offers a few good nuggets of wisdom.. Is it useful though? It may tell you things you already know about yourself but at the same time, it’s only as accurate as the answers you provide!

So for me, within the ‘Personality’ test the following characteristics ran true.. You can do as little or as many of the tests as you like and report back on the details but let’s go with the ‘Personality’ test for the moment..

I’m going to tag Adam Lewis, Jed Hallam and Tom Chapman in this as I’d be interested to see what it says about them through the images they choose.

What does your Youniverse say about you?

Say hello to Consolidated’s latest recruit..

So you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been a bit light on the ol’ blog posts recently.. I know, it’s been about 2 weeks which for me has felt like a lifetime.. There has been good reason though and it all paid off in a spectacular fashion today.

For the last few weeks now, I’ve been using any spare time to work on a presentation for my final interview with a position at Consolidated PR as a Social Media Strategist up for grabs on 16th December. I felt there being a bit more pressure because they’re the 28th top company to work for in the UK and also have just been featured in Marketing magazine in the Top 100 PR Agencies coming in at No 54.

What was the presentation all about? I won’t go in to the finer points but it was essentially 30 minutes to talk through my vision on an integrated social media strategy for a campaign, and all that’s involved in doing so, it needs the context to fully make sense but it was interesting to research and deliver.

So I was stood before the Heads of Digital and Consumer PR being asked to do my thing, there was everything riding on it. This was it, this was the moment. Before all that though and to heighten the suspense a bit, why the change in direction? I thought you were happy where you were? You were always saying how much you loved it!

As much as I’ve loved every minute working at Splendid Comms, I’ve been actively looking for a while for something permanent which they were unfortunately unable to commit. It’s not the most ideal of times to be hiring generally so it was understandable. They are however a PR Communications agency doing some fantastic work with some great clients like Marmite, Guinness, Lucozade and ShoZu. It has a real family vibe about the place and they genuinely enjoy everything that they do. I’ll be sorry to leave it all behind but will for sure be keeping in touch with them all.

Back to the presentation.. for the last few weeks I’d spent most of my waking free time researching, digesting, writing slides, cutting out slides, by the end of it I was even beginning to enjoy it!

On the day, I was horribly ruthless with my own content, (the one thing I find hard to do, cutting out slides I’ve spent quality time on) and went with the philosophy of less is more. I cut out about half my slides.. It worked, they all followed on from each other smoothly and it was remarked that I adopted a methodical approach from start to finish. Excellent! Surprising myself a bit in the process actually, because I was a complete bag of nerves the night before, on the day and up until the minute I started presenting! I was equally as nervous about the potential questions after.. what would they ask? Would I have the answer? Incredibly yes. The dreaded ‘We’ll be in touch’ was said which left me in doubt but I was happy with how it went considering how nervous I was.

17th December, the morning after the presentation, I get a call, essentially along the lines of “We’d like to offer you the job,” I was in shock. For the rest of the day I’ve had a smile you just can’t shift and have said the word awesome at least every other word. Ask @jedhallam !

On the 5th Jan 2009, I will be starting at Consolidated as a Social Media Strategist. What a way to start 2009! I have a feeling it’s going to be a year to remember. Hopefully for all the right reasons.

Anything else happen today? Yes yes and yes. I was alerted to the fact that my SOTM photo had gone up today by @tommalcolm which was taken a few weeks ago now and I’d forgotten about amidst all the job stuff going on. Someoneoncetoldme.com is a fantastic site combining photography and quotes that resonate with the subject. Mine was a quote that stuck with me through thick and thin that the mind is powerful and that it’s ok to think big and be a dreamer.. and here it is..

Oh, yeah, and how could I forget and someone on behalf of Channel 4 who are doing a documentary which is going to be featured in Picturehouse cinemas first and then on Channel 4 in Summer 2009 and it’s all about privacy on the internet.. interesting topic. They contacted me because they want a perspective on the other side of the coin. I’m an advocate for transparency and openness.

You can find out about the sites I find of interest through Delicious, the photos I take using Flickr, personal details on Facebook, work details on LinkedIn and the conversations I have on Twitter. It’s all there, and I’m completely happy with that because it brings such bizarre situations as this.

So they want to hear about the positive effects of the social networking phenomenon taking place with sites like Facebook and Twitter which is fantastic because I’d go as far as to say it’s been a life changing 6 months for me because of such sites. One question, how on earth they found me, again, all this internet fame stuff is absolutely mind blowing, I’m not worthy.

“It would be really great to get your thoughts on our film, and discuss the possibility of you appearing in the film.”
I spat out my metaphorical cup of tea.. what? You are kidding right? This is insane.
So what brings of tomorrow? I’m taking part in a week long paid mobile study on behalf of Nielsen, not quite sure what the selection criteria was for that either, considering they’ve only taken on 2 people across the UK to take part in the study.
Every day seems to be bringing something new and exciting to the table at the moment for which i’m honoured and proud to be involved in.

E-consultancy Christmas Party.. See you there?

I got an email a while back from E-consultancy about a Christmas party in December.. I thought I’d put my name down and see how it all pans out, have been a fan of the E-con site and a site most companies I’ve worked for had a membership with. I saw a few familiar ‘online faces’ cropping up on the attendees list so at Number 141, I got my name down and forgot about it for a while.

It was completely off the bat so I just wrote a bit of spiel, didn’t expect to hear anything of it.. A few have however commented and said that in 3 lines they knew the essentials and where to find me to find out more.. Turned out to sum me up nicely & professionally(ish) in a short space.

I did think afterwards that I should have included my Linkedin Profile which others followed suit by doing but it did the trick!

Amazingly by the time it closed a few days ago now 740 people had registered their interest. I’m envisaging 740 people in a room now and that’s an impressive achievement. Just goes to show the reach of E-Consultancy and the cachet of the name.

All that’s left for me to say is if you’re going then leave a comment or drop me a ‘tweet’ (An @ message on Twitter) and let me know. Would be great to meet up with some online faces, offline.