Rohn Jay Miller of SocialMediaToday recently wrote about the challenge of measuring social influence through Big Data. Miller writes, “How big a challenge is measuring social influence online? The answer lies in why we’re asking the question. Do we want to know whom influences whom in what ways to get people to buy a certain car, or vote for a certain political candidate? If that’s the case we’re in for a wild ride because the psychology of individual choice is wide, deep and rich. We can understand social influence in its correlations—when certain influencers say something we can see a correlated set of responses occurring. But correlation isn’t the same as causality. Proving causality means you can specifically attribute when certain influencers say something it causes the following responses. This is not measurement, its attribution. And attribution is the real proof of social influence.”

He continues, “I’ve been challenged by some to point to organizations and people who are going about the business of measuring social influence and using that to create understanding and then actions based on that understanding. If Klout is wrong, who is right? One place to start is in Austin, Texas, twenty-six floors above Congress Boulevard, in the aviary headquarters of Dachis Group. Here, among half-finished offices lined with whiteboards filled to overflowing, are people working to understand the causality in social influence—how can we accurately attribute social communications to influencing real world actions?”

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Image: Courtesy Dachis Group