Twitter Worth

How does one measure their influence on Twitter? Due to a dearth of analytics, it’s very hard to know for sure. Most of the methodologies on offer are built on guesswork or shallow assumptions.

Let’s take a basic metric like the number of followers you have. April’s Ashton KutcherCNN rivalry seemed to validate this, in that whoever passed 1M followers first “won.” Nobody really took this seriously (I hope). Even if we ignore the absurdity of comparing a movie star with a 24hr news network, what does 1M+ followers really mean? Nothing without the bigger picture: one must investigate how they’re influential. Whose content is read more? Retweeted more? Seeded to other social media more? Guess which of the following tweets is more influential:

cnnaplusk

Ok, let’s look outside of existing media entities and celebrities.  There are plenty of people trying to inflate their worth by racking up thousands of followers… by following thousands of others and counting on Twitter reciprocity. This kind of 1:1 ratio is impossible to maintain after a certain threshold – Clay Shirky writes about it in Here Comes Everybody and a little bit in this blog entry. In short, one can easily follow 200 people and read their tweets. When you get past, say, a thousand, the difference in quantity becomes a difference in kind; you can’t possibly follow one thousand people’s updates or maintain any kind of relationship.

Let’s rundown the following/follower percentages for the Publishing category in We Follow. Positive percentage indicates the user is followed by more people than they in turn follow; negative percentage reverses this.

This is why I scoff when I see a “social media expert” with 12K followers in turn following 12K people. All I see is someone who values quantity over quality. What we need is a balance of various weighted metrics: a follower/following ratio multiplied by the value of your tweets – value in this case established by how far your tweets are re-tweeted or what actions are taken by readers. Colson Whitehead’s #freeskip caught on and even found mention in a Times article. Should we tie @colsonwhitehead into a general Google News Alert and factor that in to Twitter Worth? Are their other indicators you can think of?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Twitter Worth

  1. Keeping the number of people I follow and my followers at a manageable level is important – I want certain information and the people I follow can give me that.
    Too much information means the good stuff gets lost, then it all becomes pointless.

    • chapmanchapman

      Heidi,
      I try to keep it balanced as well – I worry that I’m missing what my colleagues are saying on Twitter because all I see are the most prolific Twitterers’ updates!

  2. I see the same phenomenon happening on Facebook. It becomes a race to see how many friends you can get, whether those relationships are genuine or not. It’s putting on airs, really.
    The thing to keep in mind is “money can’t buy me love,” or in this case, numbers can’t.
    And love remains something unmeasurable by modern man as do all the other unknowable human things that make us so …dang human.
    But keep in mind humanity (in the U.S. anyway) has not valued anything internal or unmeasurable for so, so long that we are quite out of practice.

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