Twitter knows the influence of all of its users. But it isn’t yet telling us. This was what we discovered this week at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco. When asked a question about how Twitter is able to recommend users so accurately, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams said that they derive the suggestions from a reputation score they calculate for every user. A reputation score Twitter isn’t disclosing yet, but that could be a great tool for finding social media influencers.
This kind of tool would be valuable to everybody who is trying to analyse, understand and work with people on Twitter that they perceive to be more influential than others. From brands who want to know how influential somebody is through to people wanting to work out who to follow and why. Getting real data and statistics direct from Twitter would be very useful – real data on mentions and discussions that go back further than the current search and third-party tools; real data on links and click-thrus and real data on how users use the service.
This is data that Twitter has, it logs everything that everybody does. And data that third-party providers are currently trying to access or just to model and estimate to provide services from Klout (which claims to measure influence) to the search and social media monitoring tools that track mentions and conversations. As Twitter grows and develops they should release more applications and tools that use this – providing us with official views on influence and on the other analysis people are looking for from Twitter. The response from Williams this week suggests that they are using such data internally, and that they could develop external tools to expose this data as a service to others. Although he admits that any such tools would “need to evolve quite a bit more”.
There is a real need for more data from Twitter. As a tool it is changing the way we interact with content, and with others, and often existing analytics and measurement tools just don’t do the job. Take a simple measure such as page views or clicks through from links in Tweets. Many of us grappling with data such as this are uncertain as to whether links, or for that matter photos, that are viewed in a Twitter App (such as Twitter for iPhone), or indeed on the new Twitter website, are recorded in a consistent way along side views of that link through a browser on the original site. The data is not clear and the discussions are confusing.
Twitter has a lot of data as every action we do is recorded. Using data like this can be comlicated but the signs are that they are developing tools that help them internally. It would be great to see these developed and then used externally so we can all be confident that we are getting the most accurate, and the most insightful, analytics we can.