Anyone paying attention in the financial services (#finserv) world over the past couple of years can attest to the explosion of online discussion about financial technology (#fintech) and the reinvention of banking, investing and a host of other financial businesses.
In an increasingly crowded #fintech space that is now global in scope, it can be difficult to stay on top of these topics and the thought leaders that are influencing the discussion. While the information flow is akin to drinking from a firehose, there is little doubt that social networks made up of individual thought leaders and influencers are among the most efficient and effective ways to stay informed about important developments in many industries.
Identifying top #fintech influencers
In March of 2014, I compiled a group of 250 #finserv influencers online using a tool called Little Bird. This tool offered a methodology for verifying a list of influencers on a particular topic, many of whom I had already come to know. It was also highly efficient from a time perspective, since it was evident that influencers would evolve and change over time.
At the urging of many readers, I now have compiled an updated list.
Observations on methods and use of influencer lists
I will offer a few observations (and qualifications) about this list, as well as comment on the methodology used in compiling it:
In compiling this list, I have relied on the Little Bird methodology and scoring to clarify who is influential in the #fintech space. I started by generating a report based on the keyword “fintech” and I seeded the report with about a dozen suggested Twitter handles that I felt to be top influencers.
The report came back with 1000 individuals and businesses, which Little Bird refers to as “insiders”. By default, the report orders insiders by “Insider Score” which is basically a simple count of how many of these 1000 people are following each of the insiders on the list. It makes logical sense to me that the individuals that are followed most would rank higher in influence.
There are two other scores used by the Little Bird system. “Listening Score” is simply the number of people on the insiders list that any other insider follows; and “Emergence Score” is a measure of how fast someone on the insiders list is rising – as in, being followed and following. You could imagine someone running this report and then following everyone on the list – that would score well for listening. The rate at which those insiders follow you back would contribute to your emergence score.
It should be acknowledged that this list would likely change if it was seeded with a few dozen known influencers related to a specific sub-set of the topic. However, I ran a few iterations of the report and most of the top “insiders” were typically present on the lists.
Furthermore, I also decided to manually remove corporate identities from the list because I wanted to focus on individual influencers. In some cases, accounts that were clearly individual identities were labeled as “company” accounts in the data set and I had to add those back to the list of 100. I also tried to catch any corporate accounts masquerading as individuals.
This list is not definitive. Like any influencer list, it reflects the intentions and biases of its creator. Nevertheless, this list of 100 fintech influencers captures many of the established thought leaders whose excellent work I have come to know in this space – though, not all. It also contains many new names that I am interested to get to know better.
Why influencer lists?
There’s a lot of noise out there – but there’s also a lot of signal. There’s way too much information available and it’s only increasing. We constantly need to find practical ways to help us manage this information.
One way is to identify groups of people that we should be listening to. One such way is an influencer list. Increasingly, groups of influencers can function as important shortcuts to deciding what to pay attention to.
Most of us are busy with our jobs on a day to day basis and don’t have time to find and consume all the information we need to be successful. Our social networks, or more accurately, specific people within our networks, can function as filters and facilitate greater knowledge and awareness. Think of it as crowdsourced knowledge and learning.
But these learning networks are also adapting and changing over time. New people are entering them. New topics are becoming more important. So it stands to reason that we should turn to a different crowd of influencers to learn about different issues.
Whether you want to get yourself and your business onto an influencer list or simply enrich the quality of your online network feeds, lists like these have the potential to make us all smarter.