How team Romania put “national” into social media

We tend to think of social media as quite an individualistic activity.   Very self centred.   Sure, it’s “social” but we often imply that the “circles” or “groups” are smaller and more fragmented to a degree which trivialised “old school” categorization.

Enter the nation state.

A country is of course quite an artificial creation, but still a mighty powerful one.   So, with amazement I watched the Romanian entrants of this year’s “Web it” digital influence competition roller past us all to fill up all the top positions.   Romania also sits firmly at No1 in the country rank overall of course.   How did they do it?

Readers of my Greek blog know that I went to extraordinary lengths (at a rather busy time of the year) to discover how and why this competition works.   It is fascinating to discover how you can coerce people into voting for you and I tried pretty much everything.   I measured each promotion (in fact self promotion to be accurate!) and took notes.   Which Facebook groups reacted better, which taglines, which times of day?  I quickly got to the No1 Greek position and 9th overall.   Not bad going for a couple days in between other projects.

But then the Romanian invasion begun.  They didn’t go in bursts like the rest of us.  At first I assumed they were cheating.   Some automated script or something.   But this would be easy for the organizers to discover, especially since they are going through   The statistics will make it glaringly obvious.   In total, I have measured more than 4,000 clicks that have gone from various blogs I run to   I would guess that roughly 1/10th of those have actually entered the four digits of the captcha to vote for me.   If the Romanians were cheating their votes would match their clicks.   It would be too good to be true.

But then I Google translated the blog mentioned by the top Romanian entrant and there it was.  “Let’s all vote for ALL ROMANIAN entrants!”   Nationalism in its simplest form.   Simple, clever, social and viral.   The timing perfect (on the last stretch, too late for anyone else to do the same) and team Romania wins.   Fair and square.   Next time, when I try to think of something “social”, I won’t forget the altruistic aspect of nationalism as a force of mobilization…


Measuring digital influence: the silly and the science

“The most influential people online” says the tagline for WebIt, an upcoming “Digital and IT event” (vague terms as nobody is sure anymore!)   The idea isn’t new; a similar scheme had played out with the Influence Project some time ago.   These sort of efforts are of course plagued with massive methodological problems.

Obviously anybody that starts first has a great advantage, particularly in countries where the online influencers are fewer and it just takes one mention to tell everyone.   Furthermore, social media professionals tend to check each other out all the time, so whichever one of these happens to get their link out first gets everyone else under “their” pyramid.

An added problem is the incentive.   Some people may consider a free flight to Bulgaria a bonus, others a punishment.   In any case many top influencers will not bother.   So we are back to square one, possibly with a few new ideas about who is around in each country, looking for more reliable ways to measure influence.   Of course, this is a job for professionals, like Qualia who monitor all media and even do sentiment analysis on it.   They have also started doing what is more interesting and easy to understand, which is to look at specific topics or incidents.  (Check them out in the “blog” section of their website.)

Influence is a complicated matter but taking the more specific approach is probably closer to the “true” nature of things.   Oh, and don’t forget to click here if you want to measure your influence the cheap and cheerful way… ; )