The History of TOP Charts
If we can credit the music industry for giving birth to the first popular TOP charts, the phenomenon wasn’t unique to the industry for long. Film’s box office results and literature’s list of best-sellers quickly followed suit. These two cultural sectors ended up being among the most successful ones from the 1940’s and 50’s. A few years later, new mass media such as radio and television entered into the world of charts with the results from BBM (Broadcast Bureau of Measurement) surveys.
For each of these new twentieth century industries, influencer’s charts and lists have played a key role in a businesses’ commercial success and the economic development of their industry. TOP charts quickly became extremely popular with public consumers (who’s choices became easier to make), and were soon proven to be essential tools for brands due to their highly viral effect.
The Rise of the Billboard Magazine Empire
At the turn of the century, Billboard Magazine focused on Bailey and Ringling Brothers (a circus that traveled the entire country) patronage charts. From one city to another, these charts were only used to leverage promotional events and ticket sales. They quickly realised, however, that the attractiveness of these charts to the general public could also serve as an engine for other sectors.
At the same time, with the invention of the gramophone and radio, music quickly became popular. As early as the 1920’s, with the first popular Radiola broadcasts in France and KDKA in Washington, USA, Billboard Magazine took a musical turn and became as we know it today. Eventually, in 1936, the Magazine introduced its first “Hit-Parade” followed by “Music Popularity” in the early 1940’s. Later, in Elvis Presley’s heyday, Billboard finally published its “Top Charts” with 45s records and radio frequency sales (source: Wikipedia).
In 2013, Billboard Magazine is widely spread throughout the web, and continues to be an inexhaustible source of content and major strategic leverage for the music industry worldwide.
Each of these tools (available for free on the web) provides their own specific applications that establish a certain scale of measurement that can meet the needs of businesses and professionals. Depending on the objectives of a campaign, they have several advantages, but none of the proposed algorithms can fully meet client expectations.
At the same time, other players such as Traackr, Appinions and eValue (from Montreal’s PartaDialogue firm) offer new approaches. Based on innovative metrics that are more focused on the analysis of content and user engagement, these new start-up tools identify users according to their value, resonance and relevance of content by theme. Many experts believe these new tools and TOP charts mark the next major breakthrough in influence marketing.
Today, marketers and agencies are gradually beginning to realize the commercial potential of TOP charts. Influence measurement tools such as Klout, PeerIndex and Kred have quickly understood this potential and are offering applications to help them create influencer lists. As have Shyam Subramanyan and Nick Kellett, two Silicone Valley entrepreneurs who in March, 2011 launched List.ly, a site dedicated to social list enthusiasts.
In 2013, the new science of marketing will continue to evolve and these tools will improve. Their development teams will focus on new features that will significantly increase their value in the eyes of web professionals. They will gradually gain the trust of influencers while refining their algorithms. Additionally, lists of influencers will prove to be increasingly popular with professionals and businesses because they will finally establish a direct link between true social media influencers and their content with the frontline users.
What is your opinion? Do you think ranking lists can act as strategic levers for web professionals and businesses? Or do you fear that they contribute to the birth of an unnecessary and inappropriate star system in the world of social media?