Lately I have been quite fascinated by the impact of Twitter, and in the process I must admit I got a little too addicted for my own good. But I’m also in the midst of learning a whole bunch of things about Twitter users and human motivation. Recently I was explaining to my 60 year old mother that the website she had set up to advertise her counseling services for dyslexic children isn’t set up to bring in the visibility she expected from the internet.
I was trying to explain what they were missing out on by not opting for microblogging. My mother is pretty computer-literate, a pioneer for her generation. She even has a myspace page to keep up with her children abroad. Lately I even suspect she has developed a slight addiction to Google Analytics.
While explaining the SEO-esque raison d’etre of Twitter and Facebook to my mother, she asked me something quite interesting, something you tend to forget when you are in the quicksands of addictive posting : how do you measure these tools’ efficiency?
There are a bunch of articles out there that are – and rightly so – quite critical about the influence evaluation platforms like Twitalyzer, Peerindex, TweetReach or Klout. I decided to pick a randomly chosen Twitter user and see how each of these platforms assessed his influence – the Twitter user’s identity is hidden for privacy reasons, but this user is real.
I’m starting off with the platform I found the most disappointing. First of all, I do not really see the point of adding a google map embed to show a user’s location – maybe it would be more useful to see where this guy’s followers are located in respect to the subject’s location? When I tried to look a little closer at the figures, I got sent to a subscription page and the free features gave me no particular incentive to subscribe. Furthermore, when I registered my Twitter account with Twitalyzer, it kept telling me it couldn’t pick up on my Twitter network… So, unless I missed something here, please enlighten me on Twytalizer’s competitive edge. Maybe the algorithms they use? Next!
This is more of a “keep it short and sweet” platform for Twitters in search of instant gratification. TwitReach seems to be a fairly uncomplicated evaluation platform, but with not much long term memory, as your reach is based on the last 50 tweets you posted – which in “human” time can mean 1 to 7 days for an average Twitter user. I guess you could probably test this platform out by hashtagging like a maniac for a week to see what happens to your influence levels. However, I will be using this example to explain in simple terms to my mom how much more visibility she can get through Twitter – a convenient quick fix.
Often cited as a reference by other bloggers and Twitter users, PeerIndex seems to invest a lot of energy in catchy graphics, but my current knowledge of algorithms and the fact that I do not really know the Twitter subject I picked prevent me from giving you a more in-depth perspective on how it works. But I consider that these platforms should be understandable by every kind of audience so company owners looking for figures on these “tweet thingies they don’t understand” can finally make sense. And with PeerIndex, I definitely feel comfortable with explaining the Topic Fingerprint graph but I’m still a little confused as to how one reads the Component one. I registered with PeerIndex yesterday, hoping to get more information. What also caught my attention was PeerIndex’s effort to evaluate the possibility your Twitter account might be a bot. Interesting, but still very much in testing phase apparently.
Now I don’t want to sound biased, but Klout is the platform I know best as I have been using it for the past month. It looks like Klout is definitely in a tie with PeerIndex for the title of best influence evaluation platform. Both sites make an effort to provide easy access to information about their terminology (network, authority, etc), but where I find Klout has a competitive edge is that their graphs are fairly easy to understand (available on “score analysis”) page. Although Klout allows you to integrate your facebook performance to “up your score”, keep in mind PeerIndex even allows you to also add Linked and your blog to the mix.
Bottom line is, there is not one clear leader for these influence evaluation platforms, and maybe it will stay like this for a little longer. I think evaluating your performance depends on what your goals are, and none of these platforms actually engaged with me to ask that. But as this interesting post here concludes, the developers of these platforms have quite a lot on their plate, and are willing to admit that this is still very much work in progress. In the mean time, if your mom needs to understand how her blog about cooking can reach a lot more people with tweets, you’ve got enough here to impress and possibly enlighten your confused parent.