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Measuring “Authority” on Twitter: What are your tweets “worth?”

The social media echo chamber (which is miniscule and LOUD) is all abuzz. Loic LeMeur of Seesmic blogged that he wants Twitter to filter tweets for him based on the tweeter’s follow rates. He says we aren’t all ‘equal’ on Twitter.  Spoken like a true Versailles man, Loic.  😉

Loic has jumped the shark. What an absurd notion. Follower numbers mean nothing. I’ve blocked hundreds of spammers since I started on Twitter.  Many people don’t bother to block followers/spammers.  I do, because I like to know my twitterverse is filled with real people, and I don’t want the SEO spammers to count my homepage as a linkback to them.

Over on smoothspan blog, I outlined alternative measurements, when combined, that would paint a better picture of a person’s “worth” on Twitter (whatever THAT means. For now, let’s assume “worth” means “contribution to the community” or something similar).

Here’s my comment from that blog (currently awaiting moderation as I type this):

Using retweets as an authority measure is a only marginally good idea. Many of my retweets occur when I forward on a plea for help from one of my followers, and then more of my followers retweet it out again for me. Also, many retweets are funny sayings, comedy, irony, or tweets of entertainment value as opposed to informative value.

@replies is an OK indicator of reader involvement, but @replies to @replies would be a better indicator of true conversation.

Followers is too shaky as a measurement due to the sheer number of spammers. I’ve blocked hundreds already. More come daily, and I block every one. Many people don’t bother to block the spammers, they just don’t follow back. I block them because I like to know my twitterverse is filled with real people.

Link clicks (how many clicks you get on a link you tweet) would be the best indicator of trustworthiness/credibility. People will eat up your links if you have steered them the right way in the past. People who trust your authority will click your links. This would have to be categorized, though. Some people only tweet fun links, others only social media echo chamber links, still others only mommy blog links.

Favorites (How many people favorited your tweet and for how long did they keep it a favorite). That would need to be categorized too (see above).

Direct messages. How many direct message conversations does one have? How many characters are the DMs? (closer to 140 characters connotes a deeper conversation than 40 characters or less, which are probably just quick questions). This measurement of characters can apply to @replies too. Closer to 140=more likely to be a relevant conversation.

A combination of these measurements weighed by value points would be a far better indicator of value to the Twitter community than mere follower rates. Follower rates alone is just plain bad science.

Sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists have studied authority within groups for years.  We don’t need to take shots in the dark like Loic did.  There are methods and answers we can apply to Twitter as well.  It just takes a little cross-disciplinary study.  In the meantime, let’s all get off the follower numbers already.  There is no way of knowing how many of followers are inactive, spam, multiple accounts, etc.  You can’t even guess a percentage.  Measure behaviors, not numbers.  There are always meaty data in the behaviors of individuals in groups.

Loic, you know I love ya, man, but ya gotta rethink this one.

What do the rest of you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eric Rice 27 December 2008, 11:50 pm

    Walmart. Low prices on tweets every day!

    • PurpleCar 27 December 2008, 10:59 pm

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  • Loic Le Meur 28 December 2008, 12:46 pm

    well I just wanted a simple search feature, nothing more. Okay I should not have used the word “authority” excuse my french 🙂

    • PurpleCar 28 December 2008, 12:55 pm

      I know, Loic. 🙂 You know I’m one of your biggest fans! You were just being your quick-thinking, quick-acting you.

      What you ask for isn’t crazy. A filtering process is necessary. I see your logic, but Follower rates alone would just bring you more junk.

      A third-party developer like Tweetdeck would be a better place to appeal to. Tweetdeck has a filter by keyword search for your most recent timeline and has customizable groups. Twitter seems to like the lack of features approach. Unfortunately, the Twitter API likes to severely limit developer creativity and end-user queries. Maybe you can use your influence there to get them to open that up. Feature development will advance from there.

      Rock on with your bad French self, Loic. 🙂