If you’ve used Twitter for awhile, you know that judging the influence of a Twitter user by their number of followers is a dicey proposition. Lots of Twitter users are obsessed with their number of followers, and work to inflate their stats in ways too numerous to mention here. The end result is that some Twitter users will have thousands of followers who consist mostly of other social media “experts” and spam Twitter accounts. While the follower number may look impressive, these folks aren’t really influential because no one is listening. A Twitter account with 100 engaged followers is much more influential than one followed by thousands of disengaged users.
I think Twitter Lists will end up helping separate the men from the boys when it comes to influence. In addition to seeing a Twitter users follower count, we can now see the number of other Twitter users who have added them to lists (example to the right). I would argue that getting added to a list is a bigger deal than simply getting someone to follow you.
People follow folks for lots of reasons. Out of courtesy. Because they like their avatar. To get them to follow them back. Adding someone to a list is more of an endorsement – you are saying this person is someone worth listening to. While I’m sure people will now work to game their “lists” number, in the short term I think it provides a really interesting insight into how respected Twitter users are.
Along these lines, my colleague J.W. Crump from our ImpactWatch team posted an interesting look at the Top 100 Twitter User list. He basically reordered the top users list to sort by the number of lists folks are on, as opposed to follower count. I’ve copied the results below. I take some comfort in the fact Barack Obama is the most listed user, as opposed to Ashton Kusher who is the most followed Twitter user, and that Kim Kardashian rank plummets in this view.
|Twitter User||Followers Rank||Listed Rank||Difference|
|CNN Breaking News||4||3||1|
|The New York Times||18||14||4|
|Lily Rose Allen||30||22||8|
|Ashlee Simpson Wentz||24||30||-6|
|Whole Foods Market||44||47||-3|