Sunday, February 28, 2010

Twitter Influence Graders: Behind the Green Curtain

Does influence on Twitter matter? And, if it does, what is the best way to measure it?

On the first question it seems reasonable to say influence only matters if all or part of the reason you are on Twitter is for business … then “influence” matters.

So if it matters to you, how do you measure influence?

In Twitter 1.0 most believed: Followers = Influence. Clearly the world of Twitter has moved on.

Today there are many tools that claim to measure an individual’s influence using up to 140 characters.

I decided to look at the three Twitter influence graders I use and ask questions of the people behind the tools. Here’s what I found:

Twitter Grader

Twitter Grader is just one of the many free analytics tools from the always helpful folks at Hubspot. I heard back from Dharmesh Shah, the founder at HubSpot himself (and
@dharmesh on Twitter).

Twitter Grader ranks Tweeps on a scale up to 100 and allows comparisons to others by city and state, as well as analysis of followers and those you are following.

Dharmesh says Twitter Grader looks at a number of factors but one of the most important is the degree of "engagement" for a user.

“So, if a given user seems to be getting more retweets and responses to their tweets, they would get a higher grade.

“This makes sense, because this ‘engagement’ score acts as a decent proxy for influence,” he says. “We also look at the number of followers – with some adjustments for when an account has a lot of low-quality followers.”

Dharmesh went on to say that what people should know is that Twitter Grader measures on a curve (i.e. a relative scale). “So, as the Twitter user-base evolves, the scores adjust automatically. So, when a user gets a grade of 80, it means that based on the factors we look at, that user scored higher than 80 percent of the other users that have been graded.”

He concluded by acknowledging that calculating authority on Twitter is not a perfect science, but that Hubspot, who has been doing this for a while, has evolves its algorithm as it learns more about how Twitter is being used.


On behalf of Twitalyzer I heard back from its creator, Eric T. Peterson, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Consultant at Web Analytics Demystified, Inc (and
@erictpeterson on Twitter).

Eric says Twitalyzer, which can spit out analytics in dozens of categories, decided that humans know that influence is “something we see and experience every day in our lives” and “that being complex for complexity's sake was a bad idea. So we fixed that.”

With the Twitalyzer 2.0 release his company made changes to the old "influence" calculation and started calling it "impact."

“At the same time we dramatically simplified the influence calculation to look at the two measures we believe best reflected the pure definition of influence (‘causing something without any direct or apparent effort’): retweets and references,” Eric said.

That way anyone tracking their influence in real time will find “the more you invest in Twitter as a communication medium, the more influential you will become,” he said.

And while he personally does not see influence on Twitter as some kind of contest “if you're a business person paid to Twitter and you can’t move your Impact score up, something is wrong.”

“This is why we provide recommendations in Twitalyzer Dashboard ... to help our business users understand how they can improve their impact in Twitter,” Eric said.


On behalf of TweetLevel I heard back from its creator, Jonny Bentwood, Head of Analyst Relations and Strategy at Edelman in London (and
@jonnybentwood on Twitter).

TweetLevel tallies up scores in popularity, engagement and trust to reach an influence score. It does this with a transparent calculation it reveals on its
About page that includes data from such places as Twitalyzer and Twinfluence.

Jonny told me that the key aspect when measuring influence with Tweetlevel is context. Within context the tool examines the “location of the conversation” and the type of influencer (including those that create, amplify, adapt or comment).

TweetLevel doesn’t “confuse popularity with importance,” but instead focuses on “micro topics” and understanding who are the key people in those areas. Jonny added: “TweetLevel is a dynamic tool that will alter someone’s score depending upon that user’s current usage.”

“The tool will continually evolve as Twitter adapts its API and functionality (such as the recent introduction of lists and change in the way retweets work). TweetLevel will take this new data and include it in the algorithm,” he said.

In terms of what TweetLevel’s scores mean (on a scale of 1 to 100) Jonny said his tool’s score is the equivalent of someone’s Google PageRank x 10. A score above 80 is truly exceptional and below 25 is not too good. For the everyday user that means a score over 40 is good, over 50 is great and over 60 is amazing

So what did I learn? It seems that of the three tools I use (for myself and clients) all have their value.

I think anyone relying too heavily on one influence measuring tool is likely getting a skewed picture of influence. Maybe there is a place for an “influence aggregator” that scores each user across multiple influence tools.

What do you think? Does Social Media , and Twitter specifically, need this?

Possibly related post
7 Tools To Find Who’s Big on Twitter

Friday, February 19, 2010

Twitter’s ‘Tweet Lifters’ Take Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due

Twitter’s ephemeral nature means content comes and goes in most Twitter feeds at the speed of light. As it flashes by you see the good, the bad and, if you are unlucky or accidentally follow an idiot, the ugly.

So taking a tweet and reposting it without crediting the source is no big deal, right?

It’s only Twitter. There’s so much stuff flying around who will notice, right?


People do notice and you will be caught. Your “tweet lifting” (a term my friend @markfrisk coined) will be noted.

You may be called on it publicly (the best case scenario as it may make you stop the lifting or whatever you want to call it). Or you may simply suffer a silent, but deadly decline in your reputation.

Take the case of someone I follow, someone I know personally and someone I once would have trusted completely as both an authoritative voice in social media and a “good person.” We’ll call this individual Person A.

Person A is a believer in Twitter and its power to connect people and build collective knowledge. Person A has taught classes on the topic of Twitter. In the past month I have noticed that Person A reposts items that I and others have posted – usually within minutes, but sometimes hours later.

Person A does this without crediting the original source and sometimes with minimal or no changes to the original tweet.

How do I know this? Obviously I can’t be 100 percent sure, but the evidence has me at 99.9 percent. For example, a tweet this past weekend on a somewhat obscure topic was reposted six minutes later. A Google search found four stories on the exact topic, two of which ranked higher in the Google search than the one I chose.

I had chosen the story to link to because I liked the way it was written. Could it be mere coincidence that Person A reposted a link to that exact story just minutes later. It could. But this has been a pattern for several weeks.

In another example the shortened URL I had in a tweet was repeated in a Person A tweet about an hour later, although some of the tweet’s language had been changed.

In yet another example the entire tweet, word-for-word and with the exact same shortened URL showed up, uncredited, five hours later.

I think I know enough about URL shorteners to understand that an identical shortened URL would not be created by

In his blog postSharing Content (Anatomy of A Tweet And A Retweet) Francisco Rosales spells out just how important attribution is. And I agree with him when he says it is a “critical piece of the tweet”.

The bottom line is this: Your reputation as a “good person” on Twitter is on the line: Don’t be a “tweet lifter” on Twitter.


Posted at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 19, 2010

Reposted without credit at about 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, 2010

To read more from Francisco Rosales go to his blog at socialmouths. To follow him on Twitter go to @socialmouths

Possibly related posts:
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
The Twitter Term “Twanker”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

3 More Reasons I Won’t Follow You on Twitter

We all have our own reasons for not following back on Twitter. Recently a Twitter friend shared a link to Meg Guiseppi’s wonderful September 2009 blog post 14 Reasons I Won’t Follow You On Twitter

This is a blog post that has been so popular that Meg very recently posted 14 Reasons I Won’t Follow You On Twitter (Revisited)

And while I agree with all 14 reasons I would respectfully add three of my own:

Your tweets are all in a language other than English – it’s nothing personal but aside from some high-school French and a little college Spanish my knowledge of other languages is limited. That’s my bad, I know, but how will we communicate? What would we say?

You exclusively tweet links to the work of others and don’t give any credit or attribution. Should I trust someone who does not give credit where credit is due? How will I know if this is the fifth time I’ve read a tweet on Mashable’s take on the Edelman Trust Barometer ?

You spend too much time tweeting personal stuff – we’re all human, but your tweetstream is all about you. You’re the vainglorious guest at the party who is certainly social but only inasmuch as it gets you more attention. Yuck! Now, if we are extremely good friends I might consider this a minor character flaw. Otherwise: No thanks.

Meg Guiseppi blogs at Executive Resume Branding and if you want to see if she will follow you back on Twitter you might try connecting with her at @MegGuiseppi. But don’t try if you’re not “good people on Twitter” because she clearly is.

So are there other reasons to not follow someone on Twitter? I’m sure. What are some of yours?

Related posts:
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
What Twitter isn’t