Twitter Gradings: How to improve them and why you should

Posted on October 17, 2008. Filed under: Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , |



There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of weeks about two twitter ranking tools – Twitter Grader and Twinfluence.  Twitter grader is provided by Hubspot a Cambridge, Mass based Internet Marketing company founded by two MIT grads.  Twinfluence is the tool of Innovation Insight a Florida based technology development and research consulting company founded by Guy Hagen.

I decided to run an experiment with them both to see what actions affect your scores and what don’t and if affecting my scores actually did anything for me other than improve my own sense of self worth.

I have to first position my involvement with Twitter, I was not an easy convert.  Having tried it out for a month, I gave up.  It seemed to me that all anyone wanted to talk about was what they had for breakfast, the state of their lawn or how cute their pet was.  After a month I gave up.  You perhaps have one person in your Online social network who you look to for inspiration when it comes to using Social Media.  I am very fortunate to have been “adopted” by Tawny Press.  She noticed I was no longer using it and over the course of a few weeks persuaded me to give it another try but this time with a different perspective and approach.

Because of the instant nature of the communication on Twitter, my expectations were unrealistic. I expected instant results. 

So for the past two months I have been playing a slowly slowly catchy monkey game.  Watching, reading and gradually adding to my network. 

This past week I adopted a slightly different approach.  Again inspired by Tawny Press and through her Chris Brogan.  I had originally thought the key to twitter success was to follow as many people as possible and then hope that a whole bunch of them followed you back.  But to take that approach is really to reduce Twitter to little more than an online high school with a set of cliques, with the individuals all vying for popularity.  Twitter is of course used that way by some, but they aren’t very successful.

Twitter is a powerful networking tool and like any powerful tool it needs careful handling. What I have found from a week of experimentation is that using a shotgun approach doesn’t bring half the results you think it would.

Twitter grader bases your score on the number of followers you have, the power of this network of followers, the pace of your updates, the completeness of your profile and “a few other factors”, what these are they don’t reveal, Hubspots “secret sauce” I guess.

Twinfluence gives you a slightly more sophisticated scoring, though I have found the system has a lag of about 24 hours.  Twinfluence breaks your Twitter ranking into Reach, Velocity, Social Capital & Centralization. Reach measures the maximum number of people a particular twitter could get a message to (basically your followers & their followers). Velocity measures the average of first order followers & second order followers added on a daily basis since you started your account. Social Capital measures the value of your followers network, e.g. how many followers do your followers have. Lastly Centralization, this measures how dependent your reach or ability to influence is on a small number of followers who have a large following.  E.g. If the bulk of your network is made up of 10 superstars each with thousands of followers then you have a very centralized network and it is perceived by Twinfluence to be fragile because if one or more of those superstars stops following you, your reach collapses in direct proportion.

The two systems agree on the first factor being measured. Twinfluence’s measure of Reach is the same as Grader’s first two factors – the number of followers you have and the influence of those followers.  After this, according to their descriptions they diverge.  Grader adds the completeness of your profile, which does not seem to be a factor in your Twinfluence ranking.  Grader measures the pace of your updates, Twinfluence doesn’t count that. Grader has a secret sauce, which may well contain some of the elements that Twinfluence is measuring as well.

At this point I can’t say which method I prefer most. Grader has the advantage of presenting a single grade, which makes it easy to see and take in, but I think some of their measures are great (profile completeness?). Twinfluence has some great metrics – i like Social Capital as a measure, but as I have found the site seems to have a lag that Grader doesn’t.

Using these metrics I decided to see if I could affect my own score by trying different strategies.  As I already mentioned, simply shotgunning twitter and following hundreds of people might give you a short term boost in your score but eventually it will backfire.  Why? Because it speaks directly to Social Capital, if by some chance you manage to attract followers who are highly ranked themselves but provide nothing but a stream of updates about your cat, the state of the coffee in your office and what you are going to eat for lunch you are going to lose followers, with them will go their followers and on both systems your ranking will diminish.

Also just following the top 10, 20 or 50 twitter users will lead you to similar problems, here is an analysis of the top 5 twitter users who have a score of 100 on grader right now:

  • MarsPhoenix – Followers: 36,453 Following: 2
  • Hodgman – Followers: 12,306 Following: 40
  • wilw – Followers: 19,380 Following: 69
  • Dooce – Followers: 17,771 Following: 60
  • Timoreilly – Followers: 11,316 Following: 323

See the pattern there? Yes they all have more followers than they do followees.  So getting them to follow you and your adventures in cat training, coffee drinking and lunch eating is highly unlikely.

So how do you go about increasing your score?  Well the answers are really simple:

  • Be Passionate: Think about why you want to network in the first place – what is it that you want more of then search for like minded individuals and follow them.
  • Share: Provide useful, timely information to your network – remember it also appears on the public timeline (unless you protect your posts) which will attract more followers.
  • Ask: And you will receive.  Post questions, make them relevant of course – not why is the sky blue.
  • Review: Check your network, do you have spammers in there, people who aren’t contributing? Take them off your list of follows, unless of course they are your family & friends in which case get them to read this post.

So why would you care about improving your score?  In of itself, you probably shouldn’t apart from the fun factor.  But by following the steps above what you will find yourself with, in a very short space of time, is an amazing network that you can reach out to.  People that you can help and that can help you.  People that will provide you with a wealth of information and to whom you can pass along great information.  Lets face it, with all that is contained on the Internet it is impossible for one person to monitor everything that is going on, but with a significant number of people reading, watching, listening and most importantly sharing it becomes a little easier to obtain the information that is important to you.

At the beginning of this week I had a score of 36/100 on Grader, as of the time of writing my score was 55.  Check your score now, try these steps out, and see what happens to your score then come back next Friday and share with everyone what you got out of improving your score.

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