I was listening to the Podcast, For Immediate Release - The Hobson And Holtz Report, in the car on my way home from the office tonight and was completely intrigued by a segment on show #259 where the hosts, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, discussed something called The Social Media Index that was created by Edelman - the largest independent Public Relations agency in the world. I've mentioned Edelman several times here over the years. Micro Persuasion Blogger, Steve Rubel, works there and they are probably most recognized for their Edelman Annual Trust Barometer (from the Edelman website: "The Edelman Annual Trust Barometer tracks the attitudes of nearly 2,000 opinion leaders around the world - which institutions, companies, sources of information they trust, what drives that trust, and the credibility of institutions."). It seems that David Brain, President & CEO Edelman Europe and Blogger over at SixtySecondView has taken on this initiative and he's not shy about the potential shortcomings or skepticism that this might cause. Here's a quote from his posting, Social Media Index:
"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 favorites 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."
Brain's posting, insights and formula for this Social Media Index is very interesting. Traditional media have some fairly straightforward methods of measurement and analytics, but it gets more complex in the Social Media space when the individuals who are the media creator are also linked to others who are creating media and growing audience.
Take a read through the Blog posting on The Social Media Index and let me know if you like where this is going, or if you feel like this just might become another link baiting popularity contest. My initial reactions are very positive and if anyone can help us sort out the power of Social Media, I would place some bets on it being with Edelman's involvement.
Check it out for yourself here: Social Media Index.