Lessons in the Power of Lists to Build Authority Online

by David Hopkins | Social Media

Top 100 Wavemakers

Who doesn’t love a good list? From the annual US News college rankings to The 10 Beaches to See Before You Die, there seems to be an insatiable interest in reading lists and sharing them online. Appearing on a published list raises the profiles of those included and the publisher as well. That mutual benefit helped fuel the success of a recent list project in which we published the top 100 Wavemakers in wireless technology.

 The list appeared on TodaysWirelessWorld.com, a content marketing website redesigned, relaunched and managed by Idea Grove. It functions to support and promote our client BearCom Wireless, the nation’s largest dealer of two-way radios. BearCom’s Kent Huffman came up with the idea for the list and initiated the research, then looked to us to finalize, publish and share it.  Along the way we learned some valuable lessons about the power of lists to build authority online:

1. Interaction is your metric.

Idea Grove wanted to maximize the growth of TodaysWirelessWorld.com by increasing online interactions, building the site’s audience and creating additional interest in the project among BearCom’s corporate partners.

From its first day, the re-launched site has been a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, but it was decided that to help the site grow even faster our social media efforts would have to be augmented and more targeted. We were measuring success by our interactions and not just our traffic.

2. Do your research.

We compiled the Top 100 Wireless Technology Experts for 2014 by searching for technology innovators and business leaders all across the wireless ecosystem, from two-way radios, phones, broadband cards, and other handheld devices and accessories to WLANs, mesh broadband networks, and other systems, solutions, software, and apps — and virtually everything in between. 

The burgeoning areas of the Internet of Things and Machine to Machine communications were researched as well. We then conducted interviews with industry sources to refine and vet the list to best reflect an elite group of Wireless Wavemakers who:

  • Are technology drivers and thought leaders in their given area of focus and have demonstrated extensive expertise
  • Offer dynamic and innovative solutions to address various wireless technology challenges
  • Contribute their skills to an important/impactful organization within the wireless industry
  • Influence the future development of wireless technologies.

There were no plaques handed out. Recognition on social media was helpful to everyone involved.

3. Make it share-friendly.

The Top 100 list was a social media success with widespread use of the #twwtop100 hashtag, including use from BearCom partners and wireless leaders, such as Padmasree Warrior (who has 1.46 million followers) and Dean Gratton (300,000 followers). In a single week, TodaysWirelessWorld.com saw more than 2,000 visits to the Top 100 web page.

In short order, TodaysWirelessWorld.com tripled its Twitter following and exponentially increased retweeted and favorited posts. Referral traffic to BearCom.com hit an all-time high. 

The success of Wireless Wakemakers stemmed from the careful selection of the people on the list, the effective way it was shared and the authority that TWW has built. Mostly likely, people looked at TWW to see who was touting them, saw the content there, decided it was good and only then retweeted.

There’s no secret formula to building online authority through social media. By giving authority, you get it. By getting it, you give it. Social media functions like a marketplace. But authority is not a commodity, though, for a while, people tried to make it one, hence platforms like the not-gone-but-mostly-forgotten Klout. The advent of Google authorship signaled a shift in emphasis toward the quality of our contributions. That trend continues.

One way to build authority through quality content is with a ranking project. These lists are popular when they are well researched and effectively shared. And while traffic is always a goal, it can’t be the only one.

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