Congratulations to Azeem Azhar, someone I’ve always liked, who just before Christmas sold his UK-based firm, PeerIndex, to Brandwatch. PeerIndex was fleetingly a competitor to Klout, at the time Klout was claiming to be ‘the standard for influence’. But I always had a lot more respect for PeerIndex, mostly because of Azeem himself, who I first met fifteen years ago. With PeerIndex he first created clever technology without an obvious commercial use, which he then repurposed to enter the market that Klout had forged – that of ‘online influence metrics’. Much as I never bought into the concept, or its relevance to buyers, I could always respect him as an innovator. Though he’s moved to Brandwatch for the next few years, I’m sure it’s not the last company he’ll create. Congratulations once more.
Can’t help thinking that Twitter (the company itself) won’t have appreciated PeerIndex‘s recent ‘Top140 Twitter Influencers in the UK’ list. Fair play to Azeem, PI’s CEO – I’ve plenty of respect for him and it yielded great media coverage – but when the first five places in the Top140 were taken by the five members of One Direction it hardly helps position Twitter as a channel for quality conversation. The PeerIndex list also fell foul of our long-held central tenet for influence – influence has to be measured for its effect on somebody or something. One Direction’s tweets are no doubt highly influential on teenage girls of a certain age, but that’s a completely different audience from most others in the list. How you can credibly compare influencers when it’s influence on very different audiences is hard to comprehend. Except in this case it wasn’t hard – it was just measuring the number of retweets – it didn’t matter to whom. So it was really just about noise. And noise as I always say, has no correlation with influence.
So what use was the list? It was just a bubble gum media-friendly news bite that maybe served PeerIndex’s purpose of promoting its name. But it surely wont have helped the migration of further real-world influencers onto Twitter. And the execs at Twitter do care about that .. as I’ll write about some other time.