Can mPACT Measure Your Online Impact?

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mBLAST recently launched a free version of its tool mPACT which claims to find influencers based on topics or keywords. mPACT looks through, “a database of over 25 million articles, 8 million blog posts, and 753 million social media entries.”

So there’s no doubt that there is plenty of data to be had. But does their algorithm work? mPACT assigns an influence score as well if you sign up for the Pro account, but it’s unclear what metrics factor into this score.

I ran a couple of tests to see how well the tool works for finding influencers.

Keywords: “public relations”

Results:

1. John Eggerton

2. Mike Reynolds

3. Tom Withers

4. Todd Spangler

5. Tonya Garcia

6. David Cohen

7. Michael Malone

8. Jon Lafayette

9. Don Hazen

10. Robin Hicks

Recognize any of these names? Most are journalists in some capacity, but I don’t know that I would necessarily call them influencers in public relations. I’m sure they are all people we may want to know at some point, but are they PR influencers?

Keywords: “PR”

Results:

1. Tonya Garcia

2. Stephen Lepitak

3. Kit Eaton

4. David Cohen

5. Rachel Kaufman

6. Patricio Robles

7. Kym Mcnicholas

8. Ben Smith

9. Robin Hicks

10. Seth Godin

Again, a bunch of folks who may be influencers we would want to know about as PR folks. But are they really influencers on the topic of PR?

Keywords: “social media”

Results:

1. David Cohen

2. Kashmir Hill

3. Tonya Garcia

4. Jake Coyle

5. Matthew Lee

6. Juan Carlos Perez

7. Chris Crum

8. Alison Diana

9. Robin Carey

10. Dan Gould

Again, I would never think of any of these folks first if asked to come up with the top 10 influencers of social media.

Perhaps the Pro version of the tool provides some more in-depth influencers, but so far it seems as though the keyword match does not provide relevant influencers. Not to say that any of these folks are not influential, they most certainly are. But I would not necessarily say any of these folks are influential on the topic for which they were selected.

Have you tried out the free version? Have you found any searches that work?

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  • Anonymous

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  • eCairn

    Hello

    You may want to check our lists:

    Social Media:  http://blog.ecairn.com/2011/02/07/top-150-social-media-marketing-blogs-feb11/
    It’s a little old but we’re about to issue a new release, along with the twitter ids of these influencers

    Other communities: http://socialgps.ecairn.com (don’t forget to click on the labels!)

    Feedback are warmly welcome

    • http://rebeccaadenison.com Rebecca Denison

      I will most certainly check these out! I’m excited to make a comparison!

  • http://www.mblast.com Gary Lee

    Rebecca.   First, thanks for checking out our software and writing this blog.    Second, a  high-level explanation for HOW we find influential voices might help here.

    At mBLAST, we believe passionately that finding influential voices is not some new wiz-bang thing never done before.   Most of us in this company come from a marketing and PR background, and we fully understand how marketing pros work and the challenges they have.    We especially understand that finding influential voices is something we’ve been doing as an industry forever – we used to call it press and media relations.  But today, finding those voices by what they are writing, and then the impact they are having, is pretty challenging using just monitoring tools due to the volume of tweets, blog posts, articles, etc.

    The underlying principles we use are the same ones marketing pros have always used — find voices based on what they are actually writing that matters to the market or community we are addressing.  And then use a set of rules to determine the influence and impact their voice is having across that market and community when they do.

    And to do that, we scour a HUGE set of tweets, articles, blogs, etc 7×24 to find these voices.  (see: http://www.mblast.com bottom of the page for volumes)

    The keywords a user enters matters a LOT in which voices we find.   In sharp comparisons to other “Influencer tools” in the market, the first thing we do in our mPACT solution is search for the things being said that match up to the keywords you enter.    We think that’s the right first step.  Because as I outlined above, if you’re not talking about the things that matter to the market / community you care about as a PR pro, it’s pretty hard to gain the trust and influence needed to really move the market.

    So keywords matter.    And in the free product, we today allow you to enter one keyword, but stay tuned — you’ll see a broader interface very soon (hint hint)

    In the Pro product, which is designed for PR & marketing professionals, the keyword set and ways to apply these keywords is far more granular, with the ability to apply a rich set of Boolean operators, sub-filters, etc to really isolate the voices you seek based on the very specific communities you are looking for.

    We don’t produce canned lists of folks that age quickly.   We don’t produce “games” where the community at large can vote on who is influential or not.    Instead in mPACT, we allow the user to actually mine our databases to find the voices that matter, and then our rules – based on a lot of math models – determine who has the most impact in the market based on a wide array of variables on topical relevancy, authority, reach / social graph and other data.

    The Free version does a quick and fairly simple search for influential voices.   The Pro product goes a lot deeper into measurement and isolating the key voices.   But both should and do give you the voices that matter; and Both are highlt dependent on the keywords entered.   Enter too broad of a keyword, and you may get broad results — just like in any search engine or monitoring tool on the market today.

    I would welcome a chance to dig deeper with you.   And I’ll make myself or any of the mPACT team available if you would like to do so.     We get rave reviews from PR professionals using our tools, because they were designed for PR / marketing pros by PR / marketing pros.   Let me know if you’d like to go a little deeper for another or follow-up blog.

    Thanks
    Gary Lee
    CEO, mBLAST
    Use mPACT to find, listen to, and measure the voices impacting your market.

    • http://rebeccaadenison.com Rebecca Denison

      Wow! Thank you for a thoughtful comment, Gary.

      I had a chance to try out the Pro version when I worked at Edelman, and my feedback was fairly similar. The Pro version does a much better job of finding relevant influencers mixed in with a list of the not-so relevant. There were still some pretty big names that were missing when I did my test searches, though. I remember searching for PR (and public relations) and iterations of “measurement” and “analytics.” Katie Paine didn’t make the list of more than 100 influencers! She’s considered the queen of measurement, and it was shocking to see someone like her completely left off.

      I understand what you’re saying about the keywords I chose, but I’m still pretty surprised that not one social media influencer, for example, made the list. Seth Godin made the list for “PR” but not for “social media,” and that calls the technology into question in my mind. I understand “social media” may be fairly broad, but most of the folks who made the list are reporters who may have influence and may have mentioned social media, but when I’m looking for social media influencers, I’d rather see a blogger who talks about social media all the time, but may have a smaller reach.

      Influence is so contextual. Seth Godin is extremely influential, and he may have mentioned PR at some point. But I don’t trust his opinions on PR as much as I’d trust a true PR professional. Seth is not in PR, so while he may be influential on many topics, PR isn’t truly one of them. Based on the searches I have done, I’m afraid the math and numbers are outweighing the true contextual relevance.

      • http://www.mblast.com Gary Lee

        Thanks Rebecca.  I just looked at Seth’s last blog posts, and do you know he never uses the words “social media”?  So if you are using us to find people using certain words (or not), you will not find him

        Keywords drive our system.   And the keywords you enter drive the results.

        I think I know what you’re ideally looking for – enter a broad topic like PR and we somehow intuit all potential words, themes, and topics related to PR and show influencers.   Understand the goal, and I think you’ll see tools including ours evolve into this (it’s not an exact science by any means).    But for now, we’re 100% keyword driven.   We find people writing on and using the terms you enter.  It’s a good start, and it’s unique from other tools in the market that do this (and more in line with how monitoring solutions also work).

        grl

        • http://rebeccaadenison.com Rebecca Denison

          You’re right that my frustration stems largely from the fact that I forget the tool is focused on keywords. It can be a start, and the expanded Pro lists are far more helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/JGoldsborough JGoldsborough

    Appreciate the insights on an actual measurement tool, @RebeccaDenison:twitter  . Thanks for that. And good to see @gary_r_lee:disqus  out here listening and responding.

    Rebecca, you said it best. Influence is so contextual. IMO, there will NEVER be a tool that accurately measures influence well enough for me to just use that tool. Using a tool like mPACT as a starting point followed by a bunch of contextual research, I could see. But just using it, Klout, Technorati or any other influence tracker borders on irresponsible.

    Two other things I find interesting the more I read about influence are:

    1) How different people expect different types of results when they are looking for influencers. For instance, it may sound like semantics, but when you typed public relations you were looking for someone influential on that specific topic. If I had done the same search, I would have been looking for people I see as influential in the PR space, but not necessarily on the topic of PR itself, as in public relations defined. I think the difference there is small, but there is a difference.

    2) How different people are influential to different sub-audiences within an audience. For instance, we might all agree that Katie Paine is influential on communications measurement. But then within that bucket, you might see someone else as very influential based on the work you are doing. But that same person might not make my top 100 because I’m doing different work or just don’t connect well with that person. Back to that contextual point.

    I admire companies like mPACT for dreaming the impossible dream. But it is an impossible dream. And the best way to gauge and track influence is by good, old-fashioned reading and research. Cheers.

    • http://rebeccaadenison.com Rebecca Denison

      Thanks for your thoughts, Justin!

      I agree that no tool will ever be able to get influence perfectly right, but these tools can offer a jumping off point based on the numbers. We all expect different things from these influencer finders, and while the expectations may only have subtle differences, it’s hard to make everyone happy.

      Trying to cut down research tine is still a valid goal to me, and that’s really how I see all these tools. Influence is too subjective in too many ways.

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