MindTouch has developed a top 20 list of the most powerful voices in open-source, compiled using Twitter and other sources. It's a good example of how a research project can be transparent and in the process, help garner thought leadership for both the individual and the company.
MindTouch Vice President of Sales Mark Fidelman wrote a blog post yesterday, discussing the project and how they came to their findings.
Our interest is in much the process as the results. This is the kind of approach that has a number of uses. It answers questions for the organization. It creates a center of intelligence for the open source community. And it serves as a useful resource for sales and marketing. It also helps show that real research can be done using a few simple tools.
Most of the people on the list will be of no surprise to veterans of the open-source world. Notables include Tim O'Reilly, Chris Messina and Jonathan Schwartz.
The results show the degree of amplification compared to the average active user. This is where you have to consider the "nuance" factor by defining what it means to be classified in such a manner. Fidelman explained the process in this way:
"We first set out to determine reach by examining the number of followers and buzz an individual has on sites like Twitter and Google. We then needed to determine how much impact an individual had with their followers and subscribers. We asked questions like: How often were they retweeted? How much buzz is created around their blog posts, tweets, and other messages? How often is the individual referenced in the blogosphere? Were they cited by influential people?"
They also used Google, Google Blog Search, and Google Trends.
That's a take on the process but what about the larger meaning for MindTouch. Fidelman had this to say in response to our questions:
Question:How does this project fit into your approach for building a company?
Answer:"We actually view it as building an industry. The Open source industry has a lot of innovative, influential leaders but until now decision makers haven't had a guide to know where to tune in.
Question:How is the process of doing the research useful?
Answer:It helps mindtouch and the industry learn where to find the open source broadcasters. If the industry needs to get the word out, these individuals should be targeted first.
Question: Can you provide 3 tips for people in the enterprise looking to develop information that positions the company as a thought leader?
Answer: It's about building a community around your personal brand. Matt Asay excels at this. He provides useful, relevant content that's actionable. If I were to characterize it Into three dimensions:
1. Actively participate in the open source dialogue on Twitter, Google Buzz and niche open source networks.
2. Build a community around your personal brand by reaching out and networking with other bloggers, industry analysts and consumers of open source software and hardware.
3 Develop and create useful content on a personal blog or third party blog. The more actionable and useful the better. This is a big area to cover and I'm probably not doing it justice in two sentences. He adds...Perhaps a guest post on this topic will help? :-)
Out of the information, Fidelman looked at the larger group and created a Twitter list. MindTouch, also did a little inclusive marketing by adding a badge that people can put on their site if they are on the list.
Thought leadership provides a host of important dimensions. Enterprise companies that approach the market with intelligence are usually the smartest of the group. Luckily, the tools have never been easier to use in helping filter out the information that matters most.