Ranking social media users can be seen as an ego trip, but with communication and information channels growing and evolving so fast, it simply make sense to use a somewhat automated way to filter out users based on their influence. While PostRank gives me a nice way to evaluate social engagement around content, many apps are starting to express the need to use a similar filter to evaluate Twitter users by interest and activity.
Getting a score for a user is not so useful in itself, but is (we’ll be) a building block and filter-classifier of many upcoming tools and services.
I haven’t yet found a tool that fully satisify my needs but here’s the best of what I’ve tried so far.
The Tested Ranking Tools
To perform a real test, I needed some kind of references, so I used the following profiles:
The Normal Guy
@PhilGo20 : My own profile. I consider myself a fairly active Twitter user, with an ok following (around 560) and a close to 1:1 follower/following ratio. I retweet, been retweeted a couple times and am mentionned a couple times a week in reply.
@SebProvencher : Seb is a Praized.com co-founder (Mtl startup) and Product Development Manager. I like his tweets and read all of them (thxs for TweetDeck group feature). He has close to 1500 followers, but he’s only following 480 persons, giving him what is seen as an excellent follower/following ratio.
@Caterina : Caterina is Cofounder of Flickr and Hunch and a social media startup star. She has over 9000 followers but just over 200 tweets.
The Not-So Active
@PhilipBoum : Philippe is one of the NOFOLO/Percute Technologies guy in Quebec City, involved in the business side of these web services small companies. I don’t know if he’s using an automated follow back script but he has over 1000 followers with only 14 tweets and have not tweetted once in the last month. I am guessing he has a life outside Twitter, and that’s good !
@entrepreneur949: Sorry if you read this and you are not, but by your tweets and your link, if I were to design a spam tool for Twitter, you would be targeted.
The Inactive (used as a reference for the test)
@philippegauvin : I am squatting my own name domain. Only 2 tweets redirecting to my real account. 0 followers / 0 following.
Each reference is pretty self-explanatory, except the difference between Caterina and SebProvencher. I wanted to have both because I think they have different type of influence. To me most of SebProvencher influence comes from his activity on Twitter while Caterina’s comes from who she is. Without being very active, she has an important following. Praized is not know on the street while Flickr is (pick your street).
The Results (on August 27th 2009)
Retweetrank (0-100 percentile)
- PhilGo20 : 91.4
- SebProvencher : 98.59
- Caterina : 98.6
- PhilipBoum : 0:0
- PhilippeGauvin : 0.0
- Entrepreneur949 : 0.0
Twitter Grader (0-100 I suspect it’s a percentile)
- PhilGo20 : 95.7
- SebProvencher : 99.7
- Caterina : 99.4
- PhilipBoum : 96
- PhilippeGauvin : 25
- Entrepreneur949 : 89
Twitterank (not normalized, 0-200+)
- PhilGo20 : 16.93
- SebProvencher : 94.97
- Caterina : 32.17
- PhilipBoum : 0
- PhilippeGauvin : 0
- Entrepreneur949 : 0
First, despite the usefulness of TwitterGrader and some well thought features (I like the tag cloud), it is no yet usable in my sense as it rank inactive and spam account way to high.
Retweetrank does a pretty good job, but it’s very harsh if you haven’t tweetted in the last month. I would think PhilipBoum deserves better than 0. Having read the way they rank users, it seems to be only looking at the last month of activity. There is pros and cons to that approach in my mind. It does a very good job at filtering out Spam account though. What I am wondering is this : Could only one spam supporter account retweeting the main account be sufficient to put Retweetrank at wrong ? Have not tested it yet. Also, it does not really separate significantly me, Caterina, and SebProvencher. That’s why you cannot be using a percentile as an actual rank.
TwitterRank does a good job too, but also harsh on PhilipBoum account. Maybe that’s the way it should be, but maybe the guy took a month off Twitter ! On the other hand, this is the only tool, that seems to normalize the value (not using the percentile as a rank) and the only one that shows the difference between Caterina and SebProvencher’s influence.
I think TwitterRank is doing the best job by far here and their simple API is also a big plus. There’s is going to be a large number of ranking tool for social media users coming up in the next months, so it’s futile to bet on the future of this service but the need for it is obvious to me. Mash it !