TweetLevel - Another Attempt at Twitter Rankings

TweetLevelIn 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.

TweetLevel Values

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".

twittergraderPerplexed 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:

1. Helps HubSpot analyze data and share findings with its market (as seen in these first and second Twitter reports)

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.

Study Shows HubSpot Is Ineffective At Evaluating Public Relations and Social Media

I'll admit, it wasn't a very scientific study (consisting of a survey group of only myself) but it makes for the same kind of sensationalistic headline that HubSpot  went with in a post that says "Study Shows Social Media Releases Are Less Effective Than Traditional Press Releases." In that blog post, author Rebecca Corliss tests the effectiveness of Social Media Releases compared to regular News Releases when both are distributed via major newswires.  I've got no problem with her methodology, in that the evaluated the effectiveness of the respective releases by the number of places they were syndicated.

However, I don't know what this proves.

I know that ranking highly on Search Engine Results Pages is important for organizations, and I know that getting a great deal of inbound links from different sources is a good way to achieve this.

But I also think that as soon as this becomes one of the primary goals of PR and news releases, the game is over. We'll be writing for search engine spiders, not people, and we'll be evaluating campaign successes by incoming links, not relationships and engagement.

The whole point of a news release isn't to blast it out to as many places as possible so that people see it.

That's called Advertising, not Public Relations.

The point of a news release has always been to provide a journalist with information that they can use to write a story.

The same is true with Social Media Releases. However, rather than just providing journalists with plain text to tell their story, the Social Media Release makes it easy for them to use all kinds of multimedia elements in their story.

I don't think that news releases aggregators such as the places Rebecca is getter her releases syndicated to are going to get a lot of eyeballs, nor are they eyeballs that do go there going to be particularly enthralled by the release there. Similiarly, I can't imagine that links from these aggregators are particularly valuable.

Admittedly, I don't know which syndication sites she's referring to so I don't know how many views those releases are getting, nor how valuable the link juice that they might pass on is.

However, I still feel that it is more important to focus on getting good, editorial coverage than it is to have your release regurgitated and repeated verbatim a thousand times across the web.

As I've often said, put the "social" into social media. Use the Social Media Release as a way to reach out to bloggers and online journalists in a personal way. Just blasting it out there and hoping it gets picked up is wasting everyone's time.

What do you think about Social Media Releases versus traditional news releases?

-Parker Mason

*Note: As per usual, posts on BlogCampaigning are based on my own personal thoughts and opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, CNW Group or any of the other authors at BlogCampaigning.