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Why we love building lists and why an influencer list matters

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Why we love building lists and why an influencer list matters

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We all love Top 20 lists and I know why.  In an information overloaded world a format that clearly states the order of importance is valuable. It’s a ready made short-cut to decide how to spend finite resources of time and money.

When we were young, my brother and I visited the Louvre gallery in Paris on a holiday break. We had a short time and couldn’t see all the pictures so we used a leaderboard to decide which pictures to see. What are the top three most famous paintings here we asked? We then hurtled off to see the Mona Lisa and I remember little else.  Without asking that question we might have run out of time and missed seeing the Mona Lisa, and that would have been a great shame.

In this time pushed world, prioritisation tools like a Top 20 list are valuable.  Knowing what are the Top 20 movies at the cinema helps us decide which movie to see tonight. Knowing who are the top, serious, candidates in an election helps us narrow down who to vote for. What are the Top 20 summer reads helps us decide which books to take on holiday.

Online we are just as pushed for time, if not more so.  6 seconds is all we give to a web page before deciding whether we want to read further.  In social media we can only subscribe to a finite number of blogs, follow a finite number of experts on Twitter or watch a finite number of How-to videos on Youtube.  On digital then, a top 20 list can help too.

A Top 20 influencer list helps us winnow the wheat from the chaff.

Whether coming to a subject for the first time, or wanting to keep up with latest trends, knowing who are the key influencers – the movers and shakers, the gurus, the experts and the simply opinionated – is a handy way to get the knowledge we need and fast. No-one wants to read all the primary sources, keep up with every story of breaking news, we want guides and gurus who already know the way.

But finding these experts is more difficult than it first appears. Online, when anyone can post a professional looking blog or set up a great designed website, it’s hard to distinguish the people who know their onions from those who don’t. A ranked influencer list generated by a reasonably independent third party provides a vital signal amid the noise.

What we do having seen the influencer list is up to us.  Some of us may choose to follow just the top influencer while others pick several from the top of the list.

Also, the more relevant the list is to a particular context, the more useful it becomes. For example if you are looking for news and views on Gamification Platform vendors specifically you’ll probably find my Top 20 Gamification Platform Vendor 2013 list more useful than my Top 40 Gamification Gurus who are influential more generally on Gamification.  That’s why there are lots of opportunities for bloggers and businesses to create niche Top Influencer lists in their particular market sector.

Gamification Gurus

When I first arrived in the gamification space, there was no such influencer list to help guide me. I read a number of articles from several participants and had to spend a lot of time to figure out who were the old school game designers and who were the new breed, the gamifiers.

Once I’d figured most of them out, I created my own list of ‘gamification gurus’ for me to follow– it was the beginnnings of my own influencer list.

But I couldn’t work out how to rank them – was Gabe Zichermann author of ‘Gamification by Design’, more influential than Jane McGonigal author of ‘Reality is broken’. And what about the nay-sayers whose opinion I also wanted to understand – the Ian Bogost’s of this world who say that ‘gamification is bullsh*t’.  Besides that, who was I to state the rankings. As a newbie to the field I really doubted if my opinion would count for much.

So I looked to the social influence score providers, PeerIndex in this case, for a solution. These tools track social media activity, and more importantly, impact for every online individual. By using their scores I was able to rank my influencers into my first “Top 20 Gamification Gurus” list.

I published the list on my blog and it was the most popular post by far. It was retweeted several times and had hundreds of page views. It continues to generate a spike of traffic when I publish it every month.

It is regularly viewed by others in the industry as the authoritative list on who are the key influencers and I’ve even seen employee compensation packages linked to staying within the Top 20! Gabe Zichermann, has managed to stay number one for nearly two years and has only recently been unseated by enterprise gamification guru, Mario Herger.

It’s not that serious

Players take the Gurus list with a pinch of salt. It’s not meant to be an all-defining ranking list – to do that it would need to take into account transactions and business outcomes from their craft – metrics we will include one day but for now are a little way off. Yet, while still in a simple form,  it provides one useful signal amid the noise for both newbies and veterans alike.

Create your own Top 20 influencer list

Creating an influencer list for your blog no longer requires the time consuming, data crunching, spreadsheet shenanigans that I needed to put together the Gamification Gurus leaderboard.

I took my experience and bottled it into a web app tool, Leaderboarded. With our latest PeerIndex template you can create and publish your own influencer leaderboard and drive valuable VIP traffic to your blog or site.  Exactly as I did two years ago with the Gamification Gurus list.

Here’s a behind the scenes video showing how I used Leaderboarded to put together the Top 20 Gamification Platform Vendors mentioned earlier. If you’d like to  try it then you just need a Twitter account and sign up at http://www.leaderboarded.com/home/partners/peerindex.

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