I'm not sure that in the end any of the Twitter ratings sites really cut the mustard. Klout is all over the place. PeerIndex never really seems to read my tweets correctly. Social.List was a bit of a flash in the pan. No doubt there are hoardes of others too. How indeed could you actually read someone's social impact. I may have a Klout rating of 69 but there is no way that that is consistent or resonant with real life. Moreover, just making an impression on the internet is not the same as making a difference in real life.
So, Methodist Conference tweeters managed to create half a million internet impressions on one day and our tweets may well have reached a combined audience of 58,000 people. But when you factor in the retweeting, the crossover between users shared by different people, and the built in redundancy of twitter currently running at about 70%, you probably need to factor down those figures by a good 90%! It's not that they are bad. They are excellent. A lot better than in 2010 when the same -90% scalar would need to be used on a much less impressive starting figure. But, for example, just one tweet by Stephen Fry would result in double those internet impression figures and would reach many thousands more people! We are small-fry in the digital world!The true impact of Methodist conference was in those people who tweeted in to say that they had reconnected with Methodism. The true impact of social media is really in how social it is being and how much people are entering into meaningful relationships online. Hence my worry at the moment that my follower numbers haven't risen for the last two weeks! Am I failing to connect with people in some way. Well, perhaps because I am just so busy...?
Moving onto a more international exploration of social media...
A whole host of people are measuring the impact of social media globally. The best place I've found is World Internet Project and its UK link institution Oxford Internet Institute, which issues the biannual survey into internet use in the UK. It's parent body produces whole ranges of reports from around the world. Well worth a look. But the contemporary world loves infographics, so you might want to look at Internet World Stats for a different view of the figures:Notice, immediately, how the largest figure is not America or Europe - as you might expect, but Asia. But again you have to be pretty careful about the figures here. I remember seeing a WiredUK infographic (similar one here) a few months ago which pointed out that bandwidth was largest between North America, Europe and Asia - with huge amounts of traffic now being routed through Seoul. But if you look at the huge population centres of Africa and South and East Asia, then connectivity rates are minute. So, despite Asia having 44% of users - only 4.5% of India has the capacity to be online and only 8.5% of China! Those figures are staggering - see the figures for yourself here! When the hugely populous centres of Asia are online, the whole net will change its ethos and direction, I think. A more useful map was prodiced recently by GlobalWebIndex. This one provides a global map of usage in different areas. The most interesting graphic on the whole piece, I think, is the percentage within each country - which is the little bar chart in the middle at the bottom! If you want to explore GlobalWebIndex's research, I'd recommend the Lite Tool available from the link.
That tool helps us see what UK social media peeps are actually doing:
This is a whole sample but you can break it down into specific ages, genders and social types. A very good tool indeed.
Impact is a difficult thing to measure. Social Media is making an impact - probably hitting well above its expected rate. Twitter seems to have much more impact within society than its actual numbers should allow. But it is clear that social media is already a force within contemporary society and is only likely to gain in importance rather than diminish. See Mashable's piece on the quadrupling of the internet by 2015!I'm hoping to do three more blogs over the next few days on the impact of social media on real-time relationships, on our neural capacity (taking a pop shot or two at Carr's The Shallows and some of the tosh being talked about the internet as dumbing down its users), and on social media and the classroom. More on those later...