HowSociable can you go?

Influence – it’s a tough thing to measure, especially when it all depends on who’s linking to whom, and whether their behaviour has changed in any way. So if you don’t have access to several thousand pounds and a server farm to track this, you can get an idea of influence by studying ubiquity, that is, how brands measure across several platforms.

HowSociable gives a score representing a brand’s penetration across 22 social media platforms from blogging through to Yahoo (and B to Y is almost as good as A to Z!)

So let’s choose the man of the (recent) moment, Barack Obama. Type in obama (it doesn’t handle terms with spaces very well), and hit return. The score? 3017. So the next question is, “what does this actually mean”? And of course this shows the difficulty with measuring such things.

3017 doesn’t quite describe in any meaningful way the influence he wields. I doubt the history books will recount his presidency by quoting simply the number 3017.

But let’s try McCain, who scores 1619. Assuming this isn’t being skewed by mentions of oven chips, we can surmise that, across many platforms, Obama is nearly twice as ubiquitous as McCain. This means his messages will have almost twice the penetration, and that’s discounting the network effect of people who follow the people who follow him.

Alas, nothing’s perfect, and I suspect HowSociable is performing this neat trick through scraping. Today several sites don’t want to play ball, and I would imagine that if HowSociable were doing this through API calls (ie properly), they wouldn’t have these problems.

Still, it’s an interesting tool. As a very first port of call you can use it to establish how a brand figures across the social mediascape, then shape a strategy accordingly, whether to fill in the gaps or exploit the strengths. And, as you revisit the site or even receive emails to track the score, you can get an idea of how your campaign is panning out. Although I’m fairly sure Obama knows how his campaign fared.

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