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Jun 28 2011

A profusion of PeerIndex groups, but to what purpose?

I have talked before (post) about PeerIndex groups and how tCn – the Construction Network – collaborated with industry weekly Construction News to highlight the use of Twitter among construction industry professionals. Just over a month later, in early June, CN’s Emap sister title The Architects’ Journal began a more focused drive to identify registered architects using Twitter, while rival design weekly Building Design instigated its own Twitter top 100 (see Publications tussle for tweeting architects).

Last week BD’s fellow UBM title Property Week jumped on the Twitter/PeerIndex bandwagon, launching its own #PWtwitter100 (and I suspect it won’t be the last). Like other industry titles, Property Week has been dabbling in social media for a while – it started its own Ning-based community in September 2009 (post), and the apparent online gregariousness of property people has seen this community grow to 5,357 today (thought it hasn’t, yet, used the community to promote its 100). I will be watching PW’s Twitter campaign to see if it also shows more property people use Twitter than construction people (though there will, of course, be some overlap in membership of both fraternities).

It’s not a competition

In the meantime, I’ve noticed that my Twitter timeline has been peppered with mentions of both architectural 100s, and while their purposes are different, some people regard it as a competition between the two titles. This has been fuelled partly by Twitter accounts @AJtCn100 and @BD_twitta100 (neither connected with the publications, or with tCn) that have ‘hijacked’ the hashtags and started some wearisome banter, eg:

@ajtcn100: Woot! We are so crushing @bd_twitta100 & its hashtag #bdtwitter100 to the ground! #ajtcn100 http://t.co/wz2t8tV” > Not 4 long!!

What’s the point?

Like me, journalist Guy Clapperton (right) wonders what the fuss is about. Guy has been a thoughtful contributor on many social media debates; he spoke at one of the CIPR’s Social Summer events I attended last year, and he makes some good points in a blog post, Social media influence – does it matter?:

The architects have got themselves into quite a tizz over hashtags. There seem to be two competing ones; #BDTwitter100 and #ajtcn100 – and the participants are getting very excited over who’s got the most influential one and who’s the most influential of the architects on Twitter.

He goes on to point out that, if he was commissioning an architect, the professional’s Twitter rating or influence on other architects is hardly likely to influence his decision (though an architect’s personal standing among his or her peers may, of course, be important to the individual). Guy makes the key point that it’s about what criteria are used to judge a person as influential:

none of the measuring tools allowed me even to hint at who I wanted to influence or to what end. So this idea of influence without context: what’s ‘influence’ supposed to mean without any comment on who you’re influencing or why?

In a remark that will probably resonate with many architecture, engineering and construction business people, Guys says it’s the bottom line that matters:

… when it comes to being told I’m “influential” without any of the detail that goes around it isn’t much use to me. I think I’ll stick with looking at the order book and seeing how that works out as a measure of business performance.

A profusion, but why?

For me, this profusion of PeerIndex groups – nobody has (yet), as far as I know, started to do something similar with Klout – is becoming repetitive. I think most B2B audiences have got, or are getting, the basic message (ie: Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter give us new tools in our B2B communications toolbox), but these campaigns now seem to be more about brand-building, recruiting new followers and offering industry professionals the hope of seeing their name or their company’s name in a printed league table or on a publication’s website. Does it really matter whether an individual quantity surveyor is rated as “influential” compared to a list of other QSs?

I also wonder about the message that these Twitter league tables send out. Almost daily I see people tweeting that they have moved up X places in the XYZweekly100, or that their score has increased from X to Y, and I sometimes wonder if they may be trying to play the system. Should you change your online habits simply to vault ahead of someone else? And, if so, are you then actually more influential among your peers?

And the way PeerIndex currently works is that one’s overall influence score doesn’t change according to which group you are in (my PeerIndex stays the same whether I am listed in a construction-related group, a PR-related group, or one on sustainability, for example) – as it stands, PeerIndex doesn’t measure one’s rating among a vertical cohort of one’s peers.

Partly for these reasons, I rarely look at my ratings on either PeerIndex or Klout; instead – as I told a fellow tweeter last week – “I carry on being me and doing what I do“.

2 comments

1 ping

  1. Ryan Briggs

    Some interesting and valid points. As you know Paul, our objective (tCn – the Construction network http://www.tcn.uk.com/@tCntweets) might be somewhat different to those ‘jumping on the Peerindex bandwagon’ as you put it. We are keen to identify and monitor who is currently using social media and who is using it well.

    Our first step is to establish who exists in a specific category, PeerIndex can then measure their twitter influence or effectiveness and then we will endeavor to help those involved improve their online reputations. Our other goal of course is to reach out to those not yet embracing or understanding social media and raise awareness of the benefits.

    We’ve always advised people to not get too carried away withe their positions or the exact sciences that put them there. It’s a step in the right direction and we for one know there’s a lot of progress to be made.

    This will be explained in our interview with PeerIndex and its Founder Azeem Azhar which will be available on our site soon.

    Ryan

  2. Pritesh Patel

    Great post Paul. Spot on.

    As much as these lists have no meaning or context I’d like to put that to one side for a minute, I still think there is some opportunities here for *others* to capitilise on its creation.

    How can product manufacturers identify and better communicate to the most influential architects via social channels and spread useful product related information and build relationships? Teach and inspire? What seems to be like each Architects focus? What kind of information do they seem to sharing/discussing? Environmental news? Technical news? Design, techniques and methods for buildings? Material and choice?

    If I am a product manufacturer and am new to Twitter, what a better place to start than the #ajtcn100 list or hashtag? And plus I know who the top 20 are that will help me spread the word about my products if I provide them with something that is of value.

    How can Structural Engineers use these lists to build relationships up with the most influential in the built environment and raise awareness of their own business? Architects? Property sector? Renovation? And so on…..

    The creation of these lists is certainly going to help me market to businesses why they should be on Twitter. Not because they all have a great PeerIndex score…..but there’s hundreds of them in one nice easy place to find.

    I’d also like to remind everyone that nobody or no business will give a sausage if your PeerIndex or Klout is 70+ so don’t be bragging about it, may do you more harm than good.

    Pritesh

  1. Most ‘authoritative’ Tweeters on sustainability | The pwcom blog

    […] and ‘audience’ combined to create a Tweeter’s PeerIndex score, and the profusion of PeerIndex league tables were largely calculated on this combined score (Building Design slightly bucked the trend, by […]

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