For the past five years, Jay Palter has created one of the most anticipated and respected lists of influencers in the banking industry. Not only are his lists important to those listed, but many in the banking industry connect with the people and companies on these lists to keep track of trends and to receive real-time updates of breaking news.
Many of these people have become household names in the banking industry thanks to the insights they create and share and the work they do to help others. Beyond being a ready source of insights, banks, credit unions and industry observers also use these lists as part of the development of social media and influencer marketing strategies.
This year, Jay and his team have expanded their analysis to include three different lists of individual influencers and an additional list of corporations that have an influencial impact on the industry from a social perspective.
The Financial Brand also sat down with Palter to find out more about his lists, and discuss the difficulty in determining who is (or isn’t) actually “influential.”
Top 10 Fintech Influencers Ranked By ‘Insider Score’
|New York, NY
|San Francisco, CA
|David M. Brear
|New York, NY
|Los Angeles, CA
Source: Insider Score.
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How Are The Influencer Lists Created?
The influencer lists I publish are a product of data analytics tools that I use to identify people who are actively engaging target audiences online. The only manual filtering I do is to separate the social profiles representing people from those representing organizations and businesses (‘corporate profiles’). I remove the corporate profiles because I think there is a substantive difference in how those two types of accounts are managed and, therefore, how you should approach them from an influencer outreach and engagement perspective.
This is why I’m always surprised when people reach out and thank me for including them on a list or, conversely, express disappointment at not being included in a list. The algorithm deserves the credit, or the blame, for who is on any list … and who is not.
Why Were Additional Lists Included in 2019?
Jay Palter: Despite the fact that an influencer list is generated based on data analysis of social networking activity, that doesn’t magically make it a definitive list of influencers on a topic. There is still a lot of subjectivity in the process, especially when it comes to people who are deemed to be ‘influential’ to others, since influence is a highly subjective concept.
In order to convey this point, I included several additional criteria for ranking fintech influencers in 2019. The primary ranking still shows which of the fintech influencers are followed by the greatest number of other fintech influencers. Added in 2019 was a top 50 list of fintech influencers ranked by centrality in the networks (who are the most relied on by the network), as well as a list based on how fast certain influencers have emerged and attracted other fintech influencers as followers.
My goal is to try and discourage people from over-emphasizing the rank of any single person or organization according to any one criterion. Social profiles that rank closer to the top of all these lists have demonstrated their ability to attract fintech audiences and move messages through these networks. Some of these people rely on content creation for their influence, some are providers of services to others, some share insights from others, while others provide a combination of all of these roles.
Top 10 Fintech Influencers
|Menlo Park, CA
|San Francisco, CA
|New York, NY
|Ronald van Loon
Source: Network Centrality.
Top 10 Emerging Fintech Influencers
|New York, NY
Source: Emerging Influencers.
What Changes Have You Seen Over the Years?
Jay Palter: I have not done systematic comparison of the fintech lists over the years, but my observation is that there is a lot of consistency year-to-year with regard to who is on the lists. This is partly because we use an ‘insider score’ as a ranking criterion, since there is not a lot of change in which fintech influencers are following others. That’s why the other ranking criteria is interesting.
This also tells me that influence building is a long game. You don’t set out to engage influencers or build your own influence online and expect results in 90 days. Across the social networks, some have tried to leverage ‘short cuts’ to gain influence, but recent efforts by Twitter and the other networks have helped to alleviate this problem. The good news is that with considerable persistence and dedication to the process of curating and sharing insights, I have observed individuals raising their profiles among other influencers significantly over a relatively short period of time (see the Emerging Influencer list).
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Why Does There Seem to be a Male Bias in All Social Media Influencer Lists?
Jay Palter: Roughly 20% of the fintech influencers listed are women which is not representative of the industry as a whole. There are many reasons for this, but I think one of those reasons is that women use social networks differently than men.
Social media influencers are often accused of ‘gaming the system’ by sharing frequently, stuffing hashtags and keywords into their posts and tagging lots of people to increase sharing. Leaving aside the debate about whether or not these are valuable or legitimate strategies, it has been suggested to me, and I think it holds water, that many women don’t explicitly game social networks as much as men do in this way.
There’s also another reason why women might use social networks differently than men — rampant sexism and misogyny. Twitter can be a very toxic place for women (see Amnesty International’s Toxic Twitter report.) Women who are active and visible online are personally attacked, harassed, bullied and threatened far more often than men are.
I have been active on social networks for a decade and can count the number of times on one hand that I have been aggressively trolled for my opinions. This is not the same experience for articulate and vocal women online, and an experience which I imagine must discourage a lot of women from being active on Twitter, in particular. For this reason, I think the women who are on the list are all that much more notable.
Why are Influencer Lists Criticized?
Jay Palter: Influence is highly subjective. No matter what the criteria, people decide for themselves whether to accept someone, anyone, as an influencer. When someone in a prestigious business magazine writes an article about top influencers in an industry, we don’t question the writer’s definition of influence — we assume they have knowledge and this is their opinion, take it or leave it.
I believe that online influence — the ability to share content and move messages through a targeted online audience — is a form of real influence. While amassing fake followers and stuffing hashtags and mentions into social media shares may, for many people, cross a line into gaming that should not be rewarded as “influence,” there are many other tactics that others might label as “gaming” that attract audience and build credibility.
My influencer lists are focused on online sharing and engagement activity as a measure of online influence. Of course, there are other ways to measure influence (such as content creation, industry research, creating new innovations, etc.) but online influence is what I’ve chosen to focus on as most relevant to the work I do.
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Why Should Influencer Lists Matter to Banking Executives?
Jay Palter: Online fintech influencers are the gatekeepers to highly targeted online audiences that most businesses need to understand. Through hashtags, you can search specific topics or themes, leveraging social media channels as a form of search engine. Online influencers and their audiences are NOT typically marketing prospects for your products and services, but they can amplify your message and give your content increased exposure.
Online social networks are the gateway to understanding what’s going on in the fintech world outside of your organization. Tuning into the most influential fintech people online will make you more literate about developments and innovations in the space and will connect you to the people who can help you and your organization succeed.
If you’re working in the banking industry, you should be LISTENING to what fintech influencers are sharing and discussing, and you should be identifying influencers who really speak to you and then build relationships with them.
Is Being an ‘Influencer’ a Worthwile Goal?
Jay Palter: Individual leaders and businesses should care about being influential online because this means they will be more visible and respected as leaders in their market space. This is good for personal careers and for the businesses that employ influencers.
One of the best ways to increase influence online is to develop an influencer outreach and engagement strategy. I call this “influencer relations” – it’s sort of like public relations, but with a focus on a new type of opinion-maker with new channels of communication with their audiences.
Increasing one’s influence comes down to three simple activities: listen to online conversations among influencers; contribute value by sharing helpful influencer content and your opinions; and engage influencers in real relationships.