These sites use algorithms to measure overall online influence, using data from popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
This month, an Indian search engine marketing firm, Pinstorm, generated a list of a few hundred people or brands of Indian origin on Twitter, added their Klout and PeerIndex scores and, after securing the approval of the users, published an average of the two scores on its site. “It’s a work in progress. The rankings are updated daily at nine am. We receive around 1,000 entries daily,” said Mahesh Murthy, founder, Pinstorm. The Dalai Lama tops today’s list (and has maintained his leadership position online for the last few weeks), with around 1,950,000 followers. He is followed by actor Salman Khan with around 800,000 followers. Deepak Chopra, with around 550,000 followers, tops the list of non-resident Indians, while espncricinfo is the leading Indian brand, with around 127,000 followers.
“We’ll be the first to admit—many names may be missing. Send the names to us, either by email to email@example.com or tweet us @pinstorm. We’ll add them over time,” Murthy says on his website. Some of the responses provide a clue to the popularity of the site. “When checking the India influencers’ list, I found my profile categorised under Indian residents. Just wanted to say, “I am a non-resident Indian living in Dubai,” said Debabrat (Debu) Mishra. “I can’t find myself in the India influencers’ list http://www.pinstorm.com/ii/find. My twitter handle is @dhempe. Can you please check and let me know when it would be included,” he said.
How does Pinstorm determine ‘influence’? Murthy says much depends on how a person participates in online discussions. For instance, the Dalai Lama had 553 tweets today. UB group chief Vijay Mallya (handle: TheVijayMallya) has 456,000 followers and 336 tweets. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is ranked 11th, with around 224,000 followers and 475 tweets.
However, one’s popularity in the real world does not automatically translate into a similar online situation. For instance, Sachin Tendulkar (Handle: sachin_rt), with 117,000 followers and 243 tweets, is ranked 78th. Billionaire broker Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, with 28,140 followers, is ranked 99th. However, Mahendra Palsule (handle: ScepticGeek) is ranked 12th. His 5,551 followers pale in comparison to Sachin Tendulkar’s, but he scores by tweeting profusely (24,603 tweets).
“Much also depends on the content of the tweets and the domain expertise of the individual. It’s not just enough to have followers,” explains Murthy. For instance, Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare may have a lot of influence in the real world but they’re not on his influencers’ list. The fact, however, is that there are thousands of users who tweet about Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. In many cases it’s not necessarily the celebrities who tweet themselves. The work could have been outsourced to a third party, which does it with regularity.
The PeerIndex site currently tracks six million Twitter profiles and its crawler adds names to its database daily. Klout, on its part, uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure ‘true reach, amplification probability and network score’. True reach is the size of one’s engaged audience and is based on followers and friends who actively listen and react to one’s messages, while amplification score is the likelihood of one’s messages generating actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is measured on a scale of one to 100.
The PeerIndex team cautions users that one cannot take any shortcuts to improve one’s online influence. “A few days of frantic activity in one subject area would not have a measurable impact on your scores. This is also built into our system to prevent rank-gaming by spammers and bots alike,” it states on its website. The team adds users should share good quality content and avoid content farms and similar low quality content and items behind paywalls.
Social media experts say the best way to increase one’s influence in the online world is to participate more frequently. It is also important to validate one’s accounts with other services, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so that ranking sites can capture one’s activity better.