Twinfluence Is In the Eye of the Beholder

This morning Mark Drapeau, the D.C. based Government 2.0 expert who is also an active “Twitterer”, wrote a post on his new blog about the most influential Tweeple (pardon the Twingo (Twitter lingo)) in D.C. I was fortunate to be included on the list this time around, but wasn’t on the highly circulated list from Politico yesterday which was titled “The 10 Most Influential D.C. Twitters”.

In reality it wasn’t necessarily the most influential D.C. Twitter users but instead the “most influential people in D.C.” that are on Twitter. Ultimately it was an arbitrary list which was highly effective linkbait. Mark Drapeau makes a valid point though that I immediately began exploring yesterday after that article: many large Twitter users aren’t joining the conversation.

The reality is that many celebrities don’t have to though. Their sheer reach will trump the micro-community influence that many Twitter users have. It’s often times easier to determine that your Twitter influence is based on the number of followers you have. It’s also a valid argument to suggest that Twitter influence (“Twinfluence”) is determined by a community.

Each of us are influenced in different ways by the people we follow though. For example, the cute guy or girl that you’ve been following for the past few days may have suddenly increased their influence over you despite their lack of widespread “Twinfluence”. I also have certain people I follow in order to find the latest news. Some of those people are followed by less than 100 people but for me they have a huge influence over me.

Twinfluence Perception Drives Twitter’s Popularity

One of the interesting dynamics of Twitter is the popularity contest that goes on. Facebook also has it in the sense that we regularly check other users’ friend counts and often times users will display it as a sense of pride. Facebook is limited in the ways you can measure an individual’s influence though. Currently, Facebook has no way of publicly displaying things like the number of comments an individual receives over the course of any duration.

This is a huge problem as many of these public measurements are often a source for news articles and substantial buzz in the blogosphere. For example, many journalists that I speak to regularly use some of the tracking tools that I’ve developed on AllFacebook. All of those tools are limited by the data that Facebook grants me access to though.

Twitter in contrast makes all the information totally public which has given rise to sites like Retweetist, Twittercounter, and countless others that monitor our influence and popularity. At the end of the day, the more tools we have to measure ourselves the better because humans love putting things into groups.

There are a million and one ways to measure influence but ultimately I would argue that we each have our own set of influential people that we follow. So who are the most influential people to you on Twitter?