In light of Twitter's rapid growth, there has been lots of discussion about Twitter authority and rankings. Should rank be gauged by type of followers, number of followers, Twitter activity or none of the above? Edelman PR recently launched a new beta site which allows you to calculate your "TweetLevel" by combining scores on popularity, engagement, trust, and influence. After spending some time inputting different names into the ranking calculator, I am still left wondering what purpose this site is intended to serve. The rankings also kind of disturb me. For instance, the number of ReTweets a user gets carries a heavy weight when calculating trust and influence. For fun, I put in @FoxNews and @PerezHilton and saw that their trust levels are both fairly high. Does that mean Fox News and Perez Hilton are trustworthy, unbiased sources of information? Not really. What I think this calculation leaves out (and I stand to be corrected) is what comes before or after the ReTweet. Another thing that bothers me is the popularity rank which is based mainly on number of followers. Again we come to the questions of quality versus quantity. Some markets and industries are so niche, that the number of followers really doesn't matter. What matters is the content they are contributing to their community and how they interact. It's also important to ask: who are these followers? Maybe there are only 50 of them, but maybe those 50 are top-level executives or decision makers within their organizations or industries.
If you have a few minutes to spare, take some time to play around with the calculator. Its a fun toy and can calculate a number of different values, but ultimately I can't see it impacting my decision making process. Even Edelman notes that this tool will not solve the "influence problem".
Perplexed by why a company would devote time and resources to developing this tool, I reached out to Mike Volpe from HubSpot. HubSpot developed a similar Twitter ranking tool called Twitter Grader (along with a suite of other grading tools) as a marketing strategy to increase its brand awareness. When asked what purpose the tool served, Volpe noted the following:
2. Generates leads for HubSpot products and services
3. Integrates information into their own social media monitoring tools
4. Allows other services to use the Twitter Grader API in their offerings
5. Helps companies/organizations find top users by city, top organizations, and other users by keyword search
So far, it seems like these tools provide some insight and help get you started on your initial research, but they shouldn't be used as a shortcut to building out your Twitter profiles and lists.
To determine if someone is worthwhile, there is really only one main characteristic to concern yourself with and, unfortunately, no calculator can gauge it for you: are they tweeting something YOU are interested in? In other words, are they providing you with useful and relevant information? Are you benefiting from their tweets and interaction with them? The best way to determine this is by reading some of their recent tweets and engaging them. You might find they are worthwhile, and you might find that they are total duds; either way this isn't something that can be calculated, much the same way you can't throw a picture of your best friend into a website and see if they're worth keeping around. Relationships, both on and offline, take time to cultivate and understand their worth.