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sunday-times-rich-listWith services like Klout and PeerIndex continuing to attract investment and users, there’s some serious money and traffic to be had from social media measurement, which explains why a corporation like News International would be interested in acquiring a slice of the pie chart.

This week the NI-owned Sunday Times launched its own ‘Social list’, and based on initial use it could be set to attract a wider audience. 

Rather than relying on follower numbers and ratios, The Social List claims to rank users according to the responses of their wider network.

In other words, simply sending a million tweets or having a million followers won’t help you work your way to the top, but a million retweets or responses just might.

The service looks across four major networks - Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and LinkedIn - to compile a composite score, so you won't be penalised for favouring one over another; good news for the heavy tweeters among us.

While this gives the usual celebrity and corporate suspects a clear advantage, there is a chance for the social media manager in the street to make a dent in the rankings occasionally:

matt-owen-sunday-times-social-list

Perhaps more important in terms of virality and sustainability, the service also provides you with sub-lists showing exactly how well you are doing compared to your immediate social circle and it’s this gamification that should encourage a wider audience to try the app out.

Speaking at the service launch on Friday, the Sunday Times’ online Editor Gordon Thomson said that the paper was ‘Serious about social’ and hoped that the Social List would come to rank alongside the publications’ popular rich list as a marker of influence:

“Most of us won’t ever appear the rich list, but this is a service that anyone can get involved with."

It’s a little too early to see determine the accuracy of measurement, and as with other services, they should be taken with a pinch of salt and backed up with granular, manual research if you’re planning on using the list as an indicator for business.

There are also a few other teething problems which will need to be resolved.

The service is currently a little clunky to use, with extended page loading times which could drive casual users away.

Econsultancy-social-list

The list will apparently also post rankings to your various networks on a weekly basis, which could be a major turn-off for many users who want to avoid auto-tweet spam.

As with any service that requires permission to post directly to your account, this requires access to an awful lot of your social graph data, and raises several privacy concerns which could be a make-or-break feature for the service.

Logging out is also unnecessarily complicated, with users needing to sign out of each of their connected services completely in order to disconnect.

On the plus side there's a nicely designed site, with fun rankings and an infographic-style display which many will find appealing.

Ranking categories seem to be based on an adaptive algorithm. With only a few users on board, 2nd place netted me the title of "Oligarch" at the launch (I've since been reduced to a humble "BigWig"), but Econsultancy is now an 8th-place "Titan" based purely on our Twitter activity, despite the huge rise in users today (which has seen the site fall over a few times already).

The Sunday Times' widespread audience could mean that this is the app that brings social measurement to the masses, although whether that's a good thing or not remains to be seen.

It's still early days, and like all apps this could be a flash in the pan, but it will be interesting to see whether major broadcast muscle will be enough to give the Sunday Times list real social clout.

Matt Owen

Published 16 May, 2011 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (15)

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James Whatley

Looking at this earlier today, it seemed like that The Social Rich List would quite like to post on all of your public profiles, once a week, yelling about your rankings.

It's a good idea, but I don't know many who'd grant that kind of access so easily.

over 5 years ago

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James Mayes

With the Whatley Dude, the permissions it acquires are not in proportion to the access it requires. People readily giving total account access to things like this is what drives much of the spam on Facebook and Twitter.

over 5 years ago

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Rebecca Denison

I think a larger issue than the privacy or auto-tweeting is that it misses the point of influence. Influence is entirely situational and relative. I may be incredibly influential about good places to eat brunch in Chicago, but I have no clout whatsoever for something like picks for your fantasy football team.

Giving one score just popularizes an insufficient measure of influence. I appreciate the focus on only engagement, which is often correlated to true influence, but a lack of situational factors makes the tool vastly irrelevant for true measures.

over 5 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Hey Rebecca, I agree with you here,influence is usually based on individual situations (although it is obviously possible to be influenctial within your industry - I'd certainly take advice on product design from Steve Jobs),and currently algorythms aren't advanced enough to measure that (semantic monitoring is improving, but to be honest nothing short of AI is likely to really crack it!.

I agree that it's dangerous to rely on big numbers - marketers need to realise that granular research is always required, although I will say that lists like this can be helpful when you are roughing out lists of possible contacts.

In short -lists are fun, but they can't be relied on, so we need to do our homework properly.

over 5 years ago

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David L

I balked at the level of access required for my FB account - "writing on my wall" as it sees fit is a step too far and I want to filter out marketing messages to my FB contacts, not increase them. Encourage all those that try and get on the site to tweet or email them feedback to tone this kind of stuff down. I think Peerindex started out with a higher access level request but reduced it after negative feedback.

And it doesn't look like they'd really thought about load-testing the service either. It was off and on throughout yesterday and is off again today:

"Due to unprecedented levels of demand we are currently experiencing some technical problems with The Sunday Times Social List site. As a result we have temporarily taken the site down to allow us to fix the problem as quickly as possible and to prevent any further issues arising.

Apologies for the inconvenience caused; the site will be up and running again shortly."

over 5 years ago

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Richard Hoolahan, Digital Manager at Banking

I think all the above comments are correct. The fact that the site is already down proves the point that they didn't do enough research before launch. I heard through the grapevine that there has been all sorts of access issues with people logged into other peoples twitter accounts with access to accounts to reconfigure the services connected to The Times site.

Granting this level of access is dangerous. I mean would you really want Piers Morgan for instance posting stuff on your wall?

over 5 years ago

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Colin whaley

I am afraid my money is on this being a flash in the pan,... And I am not sure the flash will be that noticeable either. I just don't get the point of who would use this other than for intrigue for a week or two?

over 5 years ago

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Stephen

Is this really a Sunday Times site? The URL isn't a times URL, and I can see no confirmation from The Sunday Times that it's related.

Perhaps I'm too suspicious, but it looks to me like someone just trying to harvest Facebook and Twitter accounts.

over 5 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Hi Stephen - I can assure you it's definitely a Sunday Times site -there should be coverage in the print edition this week.

Thanks,

Matt

over 5 years ago

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Stephen

I'm obviously too wary of life online, but I'm still suspicious. Here's my reasoning:

The URL looks amateurish, and Googling Gordon Thomson along with Sunday Times gives me only results for this Social List launch. This plus I can find nothing on any Times sites which refer to this (that may just be paywall issues, though you can usually find the pages on Google, but have to subscribe to read them).

Do you have any links which would help validate this site?

over 5 years ago

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Stephen

Sorry, I stand corrected - I can see a link to it from this site:
http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/

I wouldn't want it posting to my wall though.

over 5 years ago

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Tammy

PeerIndex and Klout are great. People enjoy watching their influence increase and it can be very helpful for marketing efforts for small businesses as well (knowing who is influential helps spread a message).
-Tammy, CEO @MarketMeSuite

over 5 years ago

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Bhaskar Datt Mishra

Many organisation and ngos are engaged in social welfare programmes. It is our social and moral duty to help people who are cutoff from development and growth of society and nation.

about 5 years ago

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ProfileTree

We tried to access this system - but it no longer seems to be working...seems to have closed down - is this correct? Last tweet from their account was Oct 20th!

over 4 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Hey guys, yes it looks as though the project has now been taken offline, so one to file under 'interesting experiments' for now.

over 4 years ago

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