Not all information tasks are the same. And because sources that may be perfect for analyzing Hamlet’s motivation, may not be right for examining what’s happening now in Damascus or how far down we might fall from the fiscal cliff, learners need new credibility assessment strategies.
As teachers and librarians we are used to discussing traditional measures of credibility with student researchers. We want learners to recognize those brand name authors, journals, and databases that represent authority for a particular field of knowledge, those sources that add immediate gravitas to the works cited list. We want them to annotate those sources and look for evidence of the authority of the content creators.
Scholars and journalists let you know about their credentials. Serious bloggers generally do that too. But creators of social media and members of networked communities don’t always have CVs.
So what strategies can we share for analyzing the credibility of social media and user-generated content?
There are a few newer metrics. And while they may not be perfect measures of authority in brand-driven, perhaps self-indulgent landscapes, student researchers ought to know about their existence as potential tools.
On a basic level, students can Google the content creator, to see what else they have produced and if their search leads to their profiles and discussion. They can peek at profiles and content on Facebook, RebelMouse, or Pinterest.
They can search and examine numbers of followers or friends or fans or likes. They can evaluate the currency and relevance of network contributions.
They can also examine social influence scores.
Social influence scores are not generally aimed at student researchers. They are not perfect measures of authority. Businesses and brands spend a lot of time and effort managing and marketing their social influence. And those folks tend to be a bit competitive about their rankings, looking at them as a brand influence leader boards.
But when students examine new media, these measures function as assessment tools as well as tools for discovery. Finding one leader in an area of knowledge will lead you to others.
Here’s a list of four of the more popular analyzers of social influence.
(Note: Because I self-indulgently used myself as a guinea pig, no colleagues or friends were harmed in this experiment.)
Twitter- and Facebook-centric, Kred displays a beautiful and sometimes overwhelming chart of areas of influence and outreach, sharing 1200 days of social media dialog–posts, images, videos, links–on one page. It’s kinda reminiscent of Pinterest or RebleMouse.
Unlike many of the other players in this field, Kred offers a retrospective scale on the right side of the page, allowing users to zoom in on a time period to see difficult-to-find historical tweets. Demonstrating an unusual level of transparency, Kred Story allows you to click on the metric of Total Influence Points to see exactly how those Influence and Outreach points are calculated–numbers of retweets, replies, mentions, etc. Kred also offers a peek into a number of Communities.
- 2. PeerIndex: Using color-coded charts, PeerIndex displays areas in which an individual has influence and level of activity in each area. It also lists images and profiles of the person’s influencers and whom he or she is influencing. The index pulls data from Twitter, Facebook, Quora, LinkedIn, and RSS feeds from websites. Coming soon, an opportunity to examine influence is an established list of topics.
3. SocialIQ: categorized me as a trendsetter, explaining:
People like what you do, and do what you say. You’re one of the first to share the trendiest, hippest things online. We bet you do crazy things like putting UGG boots during the summer. But it’s okay; you manage to be appreciated.
Clicking on analytics, revealed my photo, profile, number of tweets, mentions, retweets, followers and profile pictures of my influences and those whom I influence, as well as scores for trust, network and authority. It could not determine my areas of interest. SocialIQ reaches across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest.
The site explains that SocialIQ, or influence quotient, is based on a variety of measures:
Over 50 variables are tracked to score Trust, Network, and Authority that make up the overall Social IQ.
A person’s Trust Score is their measure of authenticity. It verifies that they are not trying to game the system, and that what they’re telling the world about themselves is consistent with who they really are.
The Network Score measures how well connected an individual is across all of their social networks, and in turn, how well connected their peers are. This tells us their potential reach.
The Authority Score measures how much weight a person’s voice carries across their social networks. It tells us the degree to which people are responding to or sharing their content, and their ability to get peers to act.
4. Klout now assesses the social influence of more that 100 million people, offering them a score between 1 and 100, based on the number of social networks they add to their profiles. . The site explains that:
The science behind the Score examines more than 400 variables on multiple social networks beyond your number of followers and friends. It looks at who is engaging with your content and who they are sharing it with. You can view your Klout Score, the number in the orange box, by clicking here.
Klout offers a peek at a subject’s influential moments from the past 90 days and the Topics that represent passions and areas of expertise.
While these tools may be useful in exploring the influence and perhaps expertise of others, they also have growing importance in how our students will be measured in the world of business. Exposing them to these tools is a first step in getting them to think about their own social influence and in managing their e-reputations and developing a personal brand. They may sometime prove as important as the business card, the resume, the CV.
See also, New Tricks for Academics, for learning more about scholars–their networks and their contributions.