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Erica Yitzhak

How can you determine the extent of someone’s expertise? Reviews and testimonials are undoubtedly anecdotal while ratings websites have their own skewing issues. A broader and seemingly fairer way to measure expertise is to gauge how much influence a person has on the relevant community.

Facebook has patented a method to identify experts and influencers based upon that premise. Their new awarded patent looks at the length of time it takes before certain types of content get shared virally within a given network. A lawyer or doctor that shows a much shorter time between publication and viral sharing is more likely to be an important influencer in his or her community, or so the logic goes.

With consumers being constantly bombarded with tons of content on a daily basis, it becomes difficult to distinguish between what is valuable personally and what is valuable professionally. It’s a pain to stay on top of the best and most relevant content, even with the plethora of widgets, apps, and aggregators invented for that sole purpose. Facebook’s proposed method will make searching through valuable professional information a bit more manageable.

Of course, there is no doubt that Facebook’s method would cause a wide divide between the experts and the non-experts. Those who are seen as important influencers are bound to get their posts shared on others’ Facebook News Feeds. Meanwhile, those who are not seen as experts will find it very difficult to get their content seen and shared by others.

Many professionals shrug off Facebook as a useful marketing tool, but it seems likely that Facebook’s new patent might pave the way for a radical shift in the marketing landscape. If you’re frustrated by the difficulty of becoming an influencer on LinkedIn, just imagine how challenging it will be to prove yourself an influencer on Facebook once the dust settles. Do yourself a favor and ramp up your online branding efforts now before Facebook implements this change.

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