New Twitter influencer score to come, as founder says follower count just isn’t effective

social media tweeting influence

The number of followers that you have doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re an influencer on Twitter, according to one of the application’s creators. Twitter’s co-founder Ev Williams spoke at a Branch roundtable on Monday in New York City, about a new feature that the company is purportedly building that will make Twitter followers second fiddle to what Williams referred to as “The dream metric,” according to Buzzfeed. The “dream” metric, he says, is “how many people saw you tweet.”

The operative word there being “people.” It’s not secret that Twitter has a  massive spambot problem, making the follower count a worthless metric. With marketers scrutinizing other marketer’s black hat practices of garnering Twitter followers through illicit means, the value of a Twitter follower is no longer what it used to be.

Klout and Kred have both tried to solve the problem by creating value based on a metric that not only takes into consideration of the number of Twitter and Facebook followers you have, but also how many of these followers are in fact engaging with the content that you’ve published. Twitter, which has a reported 40 percent of users who never tweet, including an indication of how effective a user’s reach is would clear up much of the platform’s confusion. At the same time, it would be a clear way to separate users with a suspiciously exaggerated number of Twitter followers — those who bought fake followers.

Williams was implicitly aware of these facts, and explained during the panel that retweets, not followers, is a more effective metric to “capture your distribution” and assess how influential a Twitter user is. At the moment, anyone can get a glimpse of how many interactions a users is garnering from his or her followers to a certain degree. In June, Twitter canned its vague “50+” metric that indicated a user had garnered more than 50 retweets or favorites, and replaced it to display an exact count. Of course if you’re looking to find out just how influential a user is, you’d have to open up every single Tweet to view these numbers.

During the panel, Williams indicated that with Twitter’s API restrictions placed on developers, the company now has a better sense of who’s using the site and the interactions that are occurring as users begin to migrate from third-party apps to Twitter’s native site. He explained that with Twitter’s greater (albeit tight-knit) control over its data, it could measure whether or not a Tweet was read at all, or how much it had been read. 

For those of you clinging to your impressive follower count, we wouldn’t worry: The introduction of a better influence metric wouldn’t likely eliminate the display of follower numbers — it’s still an important number, albeit it less revealing than we may think. 

Would you welcome a Twitter influencer score or would you prefer that Twitter simply lists the number of followers that you have? Let us know in the comments below.