“Ditto with bloggers who claim to be A-Listers and those who strive to be on A-Lists. Marketing consultants who promise to help you understand the psyche of buyers and buying decisions. And every influencer out there convincing people how influential they are. Or those who ask to see resumes of influence. All this talk of influence is an insult to buyers.”
Vinnie makes some very good point about the nature of influence and self-described influencers. When I first got involved with blogging I saw great potential for free agent bloggers to become legitimate influencers in the broader marketplace, but the years since that enthusiasm has been dampened by the complexity of measuring influence and the natural tendency for information markets to calcify and become less free flowing.
Today I don’t believe that the vast majority of bloggers have any measurable influence in the market, here’s why:
- The blogosphere doesn’t measure influence, current analytics service measure traffic and reach.
- The cowpaths are getting paved and that makes it harder for independent bloggers to grow an audience based solely on merit.
- Monetizing influence across the broad market is not realizable in the absence of measurement services.
- Lastly, insofar as enterprise technology markets are concerned, it’s not evident that buyers are responsive to bloggers.
The idea of a virtual analyst firm comprised of authoritative bloggers who come and go as they please is on the surface appealing but largely unrealizable. Redmonk bills itself as an “open source analyst firm” that has done a really good job at courting the blogosphere, but they certainly are not virtual. If anything the traditional IT analyst business is more retrenched than ever despite lackluster growth and a departure of many well known voices, and yes, the Gartner Magic Quadrant can still get people talking, even me.
The TechDirt Insight Community is a well developed service that enables individuals to respond to well formed questions and the best answers sharing in a financial bounty. I’ve responded to a couple of the inquiries and can tell you the competition is tough, there are some wickedly smart people responding with articulate and well reasoned positions.
There are a number of companies that are promoting methods for measuring influence, one one end are services that rely on explicit actions to rate or rank content. SezWho and CoComment are fall into this category, but in order for them to reach critical mass two things need to happen, extensive implementation and a wholesale shift in behavior among users who typically won’t take the extra step to rate something.
An incentive mechanism for rating and ranking would certainly shift behavior, but that strikes me as such a massive undertaking in terms of bringing the various constituencies together that I couldn’t begin to imagine what it would look like. Actually, I can imagine what it would look like… a version of AdSense for attention.