Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Social Media Ranking - Popularity Polls or Tools to Take Control of Your Social Media?

I had an epiphany this week. I was speaking with someone on EmpireAvenue, a new platform that reflects your Social Media Influence as a "stock price." EA tracks your Social Media activities on other platforms, as well as EmpireAvenue itself,  scores you on the individual platforms and assigns you a rising or falling overall "stock price" score.

This is gamification of Social Media in a nutshell, and I was having a hard time really seeing the overall value, even as I was participating (and my "stock" is steadily rising, just so you don't assume that it's sour grapes! ^_^)

Klout is another overall scoring system. It tracks your interactions on certain Social Media platforms, just as EmpireAvenue does, but it presents the data in one overall score, breaking it out by amplification, reach, scope and the like. It does not provide you with separate scores for each of your platforms, just the one overall score.

It's very tempting - and very easy - to use the absolute scores  as measurements of overall value. After all, on Klout I am a "Thought Leader." That should account for something, shouldn't it? But it was the separate scores on Empire Avenue that made me realize I was not really taking a holistic look at my use of Social Media. Sure, I had a Flickr and LinkedIn account, but was I using them to my advantage? Was I focusing my energies more exclusively on Twitter and neglecting my Facebook Fan page? What was the meaning of me being on Quora (which is not tracked)? Was I just scattering my energy, without focus or purpose?

Klout and EmpireAvenue each track different platforms and they weigh each platform differently. A blog post here might mean more to one score than the other. The score is not the point. The meaning behind my actions is the point. The lazy might point to a SM score as a fast way of deciding whether a person is worth their time or money, but for those of us using Social Media on a regular basis, our scores are a great way to see where we need to expand our efforts, tie our communities together and create our whole image out of a series of disparate pieces. It's up to us to understand the meaning behind these apparent popularity rankings and make the changes that will grow our sphere of influence in the healthiest way.

Social Media scores can be more than just a popularity rank - it's up to us to use them as effective measurement tools to understand our impact in our networks.

(Thanks to DDALES for helping me to see the light!)
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