Live from #SMWF – Track One: Debates, comments and £1000 of Azheem Azhar’s own cash

We’ve had some great sessions in track one this morning. First off we had a discussion about the socialisation of the internet, where Jonathan McDonald, Paul Papadimitriou from Constellation Research, SM expert Joanne Jacobs, entrepreneur Benjamin Ellis and David Parfect from Facebook came to the conclusion that too many people are concentrating on social media technology.

“What we need is less technology and more psychology,” said panel chair Jonathan McDonald. Meaning that while technology will always evolve and change, people will essentially stay the same.

Don’t rely on technology and analysis totally, added Joanne Jacobs, work out how people are going to use something and go from there. Insightful stuff!

The next session, “what is social reputation and why should this matter for your business?” produced a highly entertaining, polarised debate, with Vikki Chowney, editor of Reputation Online, clashing slightly with the founder and CEO of Peer Index Azeem Azhar.

Vikki urged caution around the way marketers use tools like Peer Index and Klout, advising the audience to take the media hype around these tools with ‘a pinch of salt’.

“My fears come from how people interpret this data and what they do with it,” she said. “You need other factors to gauge who’s influential. It’s not a true representation of how popular you are.”

Azheem countered by pointing out that this sector of social media is in its infiancy, and it’s a very British thing to do to try and worry about the potential drawbacks. “Sitting on the side lines and using one’s IQ to pick at it is not the thing to do,” he added.

Felow panel member Thomas Power, chairman of Ecademy, admitted that, like some companies in the US, he had told interviewees for some jobs not to bother turning up unless they had a Klout score of over 50. “You online reputation score is becoming like a currency,” he said. “But what it measures is your ability to get things done with other people.”

Like them or not, Thomas Power believes that tools like Klout and Peer Index “will be the standard by 2015.”

“Who do you hire?” Said one conference delegate sitting next to me, “The person with the massive score who obviously understands the system, rightly or wrongly, or the person that doesn’t?”

To finish of the session, Azheem said on the record that anyone who could increase their Peer Index Score from below 75 to over 80 by the end of April 2011, he would personally give them £1000. Read into that what you will…