We all put a lot of credence into print publications as influencers. Agencies and corporations alike consider it a big “win” when they can get their views into Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. An even bigger score is to get something positive into the op-ed page, which is, as represented in its name, opinion.
Leaving aside the argument, which I view as valid, that impressions don’t necessarily mean positive influence (many companies still list “impressions” as a win, even though they are negative or passing mentions), many people still use the “impressions” statistic, although even messages (positive, negative or neutral) is a better measurement. But, I digress.
Blogs Hit the Influence Scene
After Web sites, the next big wave was blogs. People breathlessly follow, critique, but pay attention to blogger “A-Listers” like Michael Arrington – who said a couple of weeks ago that he has dropping off the radar screen for a while because of some pretty unpleasant behavior by a several of his blog’s readers. He has been threatened and most recently, spat upon for reasons that he presumes have to do with his not paying attention to people who tried to gain his attention. There are other political blogger A-Listers like (in the spirit of bipartisanship) Arianna Huffington and Michelle Malkin. And there are, of course, tools to measure blog influence like Technorati and Google Blog search, but they are far from perfect.
Twitter Comes Ragin’ In
About a year and a half ago, Twitter stormed on to the scene. Disregarded by many in the beginning as an “I’m washing my goldfish” communications tool, Twitter now has a measurable component of influence (now that the dreaded “Fail Whale” has not been seen washed up on the beach for some time). Until recently, when someone asked me why someone was influential in Twitter, I usually based it upon followers. Not a bad statistic, but we can do better. And others have.
Taking a Look at the “A-Listers”
The next time that you bring up Twitter and get the dog-turning-its-head look from people at the office, don’t despair. First you have to explain what Twitter is and why it’s important (I’ve blogged about this in the past so won’t cover old ground), but once you get someone’s attention, you can really start to throw some numbers against Twitter as a vehicle to influence people.
Let’s go back to the print example. Do you want your organization mentioned in the New York Times (daily circulation 1,000,665) or in the Miami Herald (daily circulation 240,223). Easy choice if the audiences are what you want, right?
Web Analytics Demystified has done a decent job of analyzing the influence of those who tweet influence using their “Influence Calculator.” They collect and put forth a variety of factors to measure influence in Twitter.
To test this out, much like you would compare circulations statistics with a print paper, I compared a prominent blogger and Twitter user (I chose @Chris Brogan more on alphabetical order in my Twitter account than anything else) vs. well, me.
Listed below are the factors that make up Chris Brogan’s “influence,” according to Web Analytics Demystified (data is from the last seven days):
- Relative authority based on roughly 524 retweets by others: ABOVE AVERAGE
- Relative visibility based on roughly 1,500 or more references to: ASTONISHINGLY HIGH
- Relative generosity based on retweeting roughly 26 times on behalf of others: SLOWLY EMERGING
- Relative reach based on 41,662 followers: VERY HIGH
- Relative velocity based on roughly 633 updates from: HIGH
- Relative clout based on 8 influential Twitter users referencing: ASTONISHINGLY HIGH
- Relative value of contribution based on a signal to noise ratio of 24.5%: AVERAGE
Here are mine:
- Relative authority based on roughly 0 retweets: NON EXISTENT
- Relative visibility based on roughly 43 references: SLOWLY EMERGING
- Relative generosity based on retweeting roughly 0 times on behalf of others: NON EXISTENT
- Relative reach based on 292 followers: SLOWLY EMERGING
- Relative velocity based on roughly 58 update: SLOWLY EMERGING
- Relative clout based on 0 influential Twitter users referencing: NON EXISTENT
- Relative value of contribution based on a signal to noise ratio of 24.1%: AVERAGE
Ok. My kids might not be happy, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Chris kicks my butt in the Twitterverse. Pitch him, not me. And yes, Virginia, there is a Twitter Measurement Santa Claus. It might not be perfect, but it’s good enough, developed by apparently smart people who have taken an online gadget that we know to be influential and given us the ability measure it – and to teach it to others.
Finally, as a direct result of this article, my Twitter Inferiority Complex is showing, so feel free to follow me.
Mark Story is a part-time, adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a full-time communications professional at a government agency in Washington, D.C and writes the “Intersection of Online and Offline” blog. Prior to the government, Mark worked for 12 years in some of the largest online public relations shops in the world. Tweet him at @mstory123. He could use the help.