Fintech Influencer Lists Have Jumped the Shark

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Have you ever been ranked as a “fintech influencer” in any of the influencer lists that have been published? If so, then congratulations! You must be so proud.

Be honest, though: Do you really deserve the accolades?

If you honestly answered “yes,” then you’re part of a small group (maybe 15 to 20 people), and there’s a good chance I know who you are.

That leaves literally a couple hundred people who have shown up on the burgeoning list of “fintech influencer” rankings in the past few months.

People who influence practically nobody else. People I’ve never even heard of (and I follow fintech closely). Some of them aren’t even real people (they’re publications or twitter accounts).

Fintech influencer lists have jumped the shark, and I’m going to call out these lists for what they are: Shameless attempts to drive traffic to the list purveyor’s site by publishing nonsense rankings based on voodoo quantitative approaches.

Influencer Lists are Nonsense

There are many reasons why these lists are nonsense, but let’s get down to the most basic and important reason:

You can’t easily measure influence.

Fundamentally, influence comes down to having an impact on one or both of two things: 1) What someone thinks and/or believes, and 2) What someone does.

Very few people in the world of fintech meet the first criteria. Brett King, Chris Skinner, and Jim Marous easily qualify as they have shaped what people think and believe about the current and future states of fintech and digital banking.

Yet, in two recent lists of fintech influencers, neither Brett nor Chris made the list. Why? Because their [fill-in-blank] score wasn’t high enough. As if someone’s Klout, Moz, or whatever stupid social media score you have could measure the impact of someone’s published thoughts and ideas.

The Stupidity of Klout

The over-reliance on the Klout score is the culprit leading to the lack of credibility in many influencer rankings. According to Klout’s website:

“The Klout Score isn’t the average of your influence across all your networks, it’s the accumulation.”

In other words, the more time you waste…oops, I mean spend…on multiple social networks, the higher your Klout score.

Klout goes on to say:

“The majority of the signals used to calculate the Klout Score are derived from combinations of attributes, such as the ratio of reactions you generate compared to the amount of content you share.”

The stupidity of this can’t be overstated. What Klout is saying is that if you tweet the link to someone else’s content, that tweet is considered “content” itself. That’s nonsense.

Bogus Methodologies

Some lists purport to have “proprietary” algorithms for calculating their influencer ratings. But concocting a silly formula without validating the results in the real-world doesn’t make a pseudo-scientific approach a valid approach. One list I’ve seen touts:

“[Our] influencer list is an almost real-time run down of the most important people in fintech on social media, which is automatically updated every fortnight.”

Almost real-time, eh? Does someone’s influence in the world of fintech really vary that much week by week? The answer is no. Frequency (i.e., quantity) of content and/or posting is not what determines “influence” – it’s quality of content and posts. But nowhere does that get captured in any of these rankings.

Why This Matters

If this were all just a matter of ego stroking a group of insecure, overly sensitive fintech types, this post wouldn’t be worth reading or publishing. But there are real-world consequences to these bogus rankings: Conference organizers make decisions on who to hire to speak based on the rankings.

How sad is that?

Lazy-ass conference organizers can’t go out and read the content published to determine who are the best fits for speaking at their conferences. Instead, they rely on bogus lists which are: 1) gamed by people who buy followers or tweet/post incessantly throughout the day, and 2) dominated by people who post no original content.

Final Words

I’m sure there will be people who read this who think I’m just sore that I’m not included on this or that influencer list.

Believe what you want, but I assure you that I couldn’t care less (anymore) about being included. I’m writing this to support the people (many of them my friends) who deserve to be at the top of the lists.

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