The idea of former Reuters Innovation boss Azeem Azhar, PeerIndex is a Twitter-centric tool that measures your social network standing and influence on the Web. It launched in beta yesterday, and is the kind of thing that will, first of all, redirect 20 minutes of your time as you go through all the names of your colleagues and friends. This, friends, is the 140-character version of the Google vanity search.
It works by identifying “from millions of users the opinion leaders from the merely opinionated,” according to Azhar, and can separate a person’s different spheres of excellence–for example, Fast Company’s very own Kit Eaton is in the top 1% of authorities on Apple Inc. PeerIndex has a bunch of backers that include former Economist editor Bill Emmott (both of the above, surely).
At the moment it seems weighted toward business and tech topics. For example, while tweeter extraordinaire Stephen Fry is featured, he’s not ranked so far. And they haven’t even heard of Lady Gaga yet, merely her imitators, but there’s probably still tweakage of the algorithm going on. For the moment PeerIndex seems to be after commentators and writers, using their social profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn, but it relies heaviest on the word of the bird.
In an interview with PaidContent:UK yesterday, Azhar also called the site a “speakers bureau” with one of its aims being to hook up influencers with the brands they’re hot on. The vanity side to PeerIndex will ensure that people come flocking; money will be made, however, from a premium service which offers brand marketeers and bigwigs in the communications industry custom categories.
Once fully tweaked and glitches ironed out, you can see this becoming an obsession for the mouthy brigade of the online community, probably forcing them to up their game–and their tweet rate. One thing that’s worth predicting if PeerIndex takes off: Twitter’s outgoings will increase as they are forced to buy more servers.