New Methods of Measuring Opinion Leadership: A Systematic, Interdisciplinary Literature Analysis

Katrin Jungnickel


Opinion leadership research has changed with the development of new online communication environments. Consequently, the already diverse methods of measuring opinion leadership have expanded further. With the help of a systematic literature analysis of 410 articles published in the past 20 years, I collected, organized, and compared traditional and new methods. The analysis identifies three major methods: traditional methods of self-assessment, assessment by others, and the new method of algorithmic assessment. Algorithmic assessment is already used by 37% of all analyzed studies and 74% of the studies researching opinion leadership online. It comprises four main criteria serving as indicators for opinion leadership: contacts, activity, feedback, and citation/imitation. A comparison with traditional methods shows that different types of opinion leaders are identified with the new algorithmic assessment and the construct has split into multiple dimensions.


multistep flow of communication, opinion leaders, social media, literature analysis

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