The power of conversation, indeed. Conversation Agent ranked at number 5 on AdAge Power150 yesterday - a mere four spots from Seth Godin. While everyone else is talking about Facebook vanity URLs, I want to talk about the significance of lists - why they matter, why they don't.
The more things change, the more they stay the same
Lists are not new. Think about the New York Times Best Seller list, the Fortune 500 annual ranking of America's largest corporations, and Interbrand Best Global Brands for example. They are ways to create ranked directories that will make those companies and authors mention the list and the ranking, thus providing validation on both sides of the mention.
The media company gets the free mention, the company or author get the listing. It's the same way with new media. Because linking is part of the social currency of the Web, a link has significance in an of itself, especially, let's face it, from a higher ranking site. If that list is also ranked, it allows you to verify your status compared to that of your peers in a category - like for example marketing blogs on AdAge Power150.
Ranking blogs was Todd And's idea, and although it's laudable that AdAge would want to maintain and display the list, the publication and brand also gets something out of having the list on their site - links from all (or many of) the blogs on the list. I just wish they did more with it and I suggested as much. Maybe now that I'm ranking at #5 they will listen.
With lists is the same as with medals - being in the middle tends to be less exciting than being near the top or making it in. That's my take. Do you agree?
The other thing you need to think about is that with lists you're often several places down for a mere 3-5 points. If today the list is back to its normal ranking, you will see that there are probably only 9 points between Conversation Agent and the top blogs.
Media thrives on lists, we thrive on meaning
The point I wanted to get to was that while lists are great for all involved in media - now bloggers are part of that - meaning is more our speed as professionals, individuals, and brands/companies. Buying from the top of the list may not get you fired, but it may also not provide the most value to you specifically.
Why? Because while all companies, brands, and individuals are ranked in the same list, a relationship and experience with one of them differs tremendously from one with the other. The meaning we derive from that relationship and experience varies depending on our buying cycle, life phase, or at times momentary needs.
Compared to some of the other lists I cited, new media lists change frequently and the change depends in part from readers' votes - links, engagement, syndication are some of the metrics use for the ranking. Best Seller lists can be influenced frequently as well - although that metric is in just sales figures.
How do you make meaning translate into ranking? You work harder on the value of what you provide to your customers and readers and worry less about gaming the system. If you have any doubts in the fact that we're all looking for meaning, take a look at the comments to this post and you'll find plenty of evidence.
And about that vanity URL thing, would you want your Facebook profile to rank higher than your digital property? I agree - it's not about you.