Last week, I published a list of 100 social media influencers in Calgary and it sparked some insightful discussion.
The post was widely shared and it generated the typical “thanks for including me” and “great to be among such great people” comments. It also generated its fair share of criticism, some of which was merited.
I was contacted by several people who felt they should have been on the list. I did some additional research and realized that I could capture a number of missing “influencers” by expanding my dataset. So, I recalculated the scoring based on an expanded dataset of almost 7,000 online identities.
Here is the updated list. This time I have included 200 individuals and 100 organizations. (Scroll right to see the scores and use the tabs at the bottom of the embedded spreadsheet to toggle between “persons” and “organizations”. Mobile browsers having trouble viewing the list can see it here.)
Important clarifications about this list
This is still NOT a definitive list of cool people in Calgary.
I have not personally selected any individuals to be on this list. You can thank the algorithms for that.
I created the list using a tool called Little Bird. This tool generates a topical community based on a proprietary analysis of people who are gathering around and discussing a particular topic online. This topical community is referred to as an “insiders list” and is ranked according to “insider score” which is simply the number of other insiders that are following that particular insider.
Due to the larger dataset, a number of people not present from the previous list are on this list, such as Brett Wilson, Lisa Ostrikoff, Premier Rachel Notley and former PM Stephen Harper. And the relative positioning of people is considerably different based on the expanded dataset. I also extended the list to the top 200, in descending order by insider score, because I find the people in the second hundred just as interesting as the ones in the first.
If I expanded the dataset much more, say to 10,000 or 20,000 identities, the top couple of hundred people would likely change a bit, but my guess is not that much. But the point is that this list can and will change depending on a number of factors.
Hence, back to my first point, it is not a definitive list of cool kids. But it is a very useful and powerful list, nonetheless.
On influence and influencers
Anytime the term “influencers” is used in the context of social media followers, engagement, connections, etc. there are bound to be a variety of perspectives.
Here’s mine: These people are all influencers. They all have the potential to exercise influence over the their followers. They all have an audience, they all have reach – and those audiences include other people with considerable reach.
The concept of influence is far richer than simply audience and reach on social media. I get that. But the people I’m familiar with on this list also have influence outside of social media. In some cases, that influence is on the rise, while in others it is on the decline. Some may be influential to me, some to you and others to neither of us.
In short, I think influence is a complex process and I am not reducing it to social media followers. However, online social networks are increasingly part of our interpersonal communications and our online connections can influence us in a variety of ways.
On lists and status groups
As a species, we are motivated by status and pecking order. We love lists because they allow us to measure ourselves in relation to others. And lists simplify (perhaps “over-simplify”) otherwise complex and overwhelming datasets.
Social media, among other things, is a complex dataset. Sorting through all that data and making some sense of it has value in many situations, including business, marketing, public relations, politics, and social advocacy.
My point is this: Who the people are that sit in the top 10 or 50 or 100 spots on this list is far less useful than the aggregate value of a list of insiders with large aggregate following and reach. Focusing on the influence or status of any one person overlooks the influence of the group as a whole.
I look forward to your feedback.
Note: Thanks to John Smiley for inspiring me with such polite criticism and civilized discussion. The title of this post and updated list is dedicated to him.