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Twitter Lists as an Influence Measure?

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In “Using Twitter Lists To Judge Influence“, Todd Zeigler of the Bivings Report writes:

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.

I’m certainly intrigued by Twitter Lists, but I’m skeptical that counting how many lists someone is on will prove that much more useful than follower count. For example, I currently have 1159 followers, am on 33 lists, and have a TunkRank of 24.1. For grins, here’s a handful of people who have similar stats:

While I can’t generalize from a few arbitrarily selected data points (though Gladwell seems to have no trouble doing so in Outliers), my suspicion is that list count will be highly correlated to follower count–and may actually be a noisier signal because the numbers are so much smaller.

Of course, there’s no reason we should use raw list counts–any more than we should use raw follower counts. Just as TunkRank aspires to model attention scarcity and recognizes that not all followers are created equal, an effective measure of how lists contribute to influence must recognize that not all list memberships are created equal either.

I’ve been chatting with Chris Langreiter, who is working on enhancements to TunkRank to address some of the oversimplifications of its model, as well as with Jonathan Glick and Ken Reisman at TLists. I’d like to see online influence–on Twitter and in general–measured more effectively. It will be great if lists can help, but we can’t make the same naive mistakes as those who were quick to embrace follower count as a measure of authority.


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