Influence Measurement Systems & Social Analytics


Since Google first started ranking pages it  has been in the influence  businesses, the influence of content.  Gaining content influence has been the role of SEO but, regardless of how often Google re-writes the rules and modifies the algorithms, this can be gamed. A new way is needed.

Influence measurement Systems & Social Analytics

Data hosts such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are better placed to gauge influence due to having full access to data within their own environment. Is Google putting together the building blocks of an internal influence measurement system? By combining data compiled from different sources Google can paint an accurate picture of who we are, what we like and what we do within its ecosystem.

The combination of numerous, disparate privacy policies into the single privacy policy last year combined with the creation of Google+ as a “social glue” and an identity service gave Google an ideal starting point for looking at us rather than our content.

Consider these elements and how they all help Google paint a picture:

  1. Page Rank
  2. Authorship
  3. Author Rank
  4. Analytics
  5. Virality

A patent granted to Google in December last year details how Google could use the “content propagation likelihood” – or, how well things spread – of items (here called entities) you share, endorse, comment on etc. to determine what content could be placed before a user.

According to the abstract: a user’s content propagation likelihood is computed using weighted measures of various ways in which an entity can spread through a social network.  A user’s content propagation likelihood may also be set for a given vertical (e.g., music, sports, etc.) and/or a given media type (e.g., images, videos, etc.) that pertains to the particular user.

“virality is an extension of influence”

What is social influence – 3 varieties

  • compliance – where people appear to agree but keep dissenting opinions private

Compliance is a state of artificial influence and is described as a change in behaviour but not attitude – it is often referred to as submission as we may need to comply without necessarily agreeing with the issue at hand but feel the need to act in the way expected of us due to societal pressures.

  • identification – where people are influenced by someone liked and respected

Identification has its roots in the work of Sigmund Freud and, in its simplest form, is a behavioural change as a result of an emotional attachment to something or someone. We adopt the behaviour of those we like or respect, be they existing connections or those we would like to know or emulate. Celebrity advertising relies on this concept.

  • internalisation – where people accept a belief or behaviour and agree both publicly and privately – they fully take it onboard

Internalisation is the  complete adoption of behaviour and attitude and will normally occur when these are in accordance with our existing moral values or beliefs. It is far easier to influence those who already think or act in similar ways as there is minimal shift in mindset.

Compliance and identification are viewed in some fields as different components of Conformity – the need to modify behaviour and/or attitude in order to fit in with a group.

Conformity is traditionally divided into 2 types:

normative conformity (compliance) – is compliance with the influence of others so that we may be liked and accepted. There is no guarantee that there will be an attitudinal shift but there will be a behavioural shift to conform with the social norms of the influencing group. Virality on social networks can be a direct result of normative conformity with users wishing to be seen as cool by contributing to the spread of the latest meme.

informational conformity (internalisation) – otherwise known as social proof, is a change to reflect what is seen as the correct behaviour for a situation due to the assumption that the influencers have more knowledge and experience of that situation so know how to respond – even if that assumption is incorrect. The belief that behaviour is correct can also result in an attitudinal shift giving rise to internalisation.

Behaviour on social networks is frequently affected by informational conformity as social media “experts” espouse notions of correct procedure such as when to tweet or the length of the ideal blog post.

Informational conformity can ultimately lead to a state of self-fulfilling prophecy when the proposed behaviour and attitude are so prevalent that they become the de facto standard.

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