The Hippo


Apr 18, 2014








A tweet in infamy
Learn how much your Twittering really matters

By John Andrews

I’ve become something of a Twitter addict lately. I have these random, useless thoughts throughout the day, and like millions before me, I’ve discovered what a joy it is to broadcast this brilliance out into the universe with slightly greater than zero probability that others will read it.

Not that I’m clogging up the tubes with my brain babble. Some of my followees can shout out a dozen tweets in half an hour, not even counting their direct replies to other users. No, I like to make sure I’m contributing only the most erudite and original wisdom to the electronic hive mind.

Increasingly, Twitter and social networking sites are being used not just to keep friends and family in touch, but to push commercial and political messages. How do you know those messages are having any impact?
A company called looks to quantify your social media influence into a single score. Anyone can look up his own or someone else’s Klout score just by visiting the website, but signing up gives you more insight into how you’re being studied.

Klout bills itself as “The Standard for Influence,” so it couches all its keyword analysis in that term. For example, it thinks I am “influential” about seven topics. In ascending order, they are: tea, technology, cars, laptops, music, apple and Chinatown. The last one is easy enough to explain — I recorded a song called Chinatown a few weeks ago and have been pimping the MP3 constantly since. It has nothing to do with the movie and fairly little to do with any particular cultural district, but I’ve mentioned the word a number of times and friends have been kind enough to retweet it. I tweet a link to this column every week, so you’d think I’d be more influential about tech, but then again, there are a LOT of people talking about tech on the Internet.
It’s not the only site giving you some kind of ranking, of course. gives you a score from 0.01 to 10 “based on three factors for scores of Twitter users: friends, followers and frequency of updates.” uses number of followers, the number and recency of your updates, the amount you’re retweeted or referenced and a few other factors to give you a raw score, a grade showing your score’s percentile among other graded users and a ranking showing how many graded users ranked above and below you.

Then there’s, which is all about ranking. As of this writing, Lady Gaga has 11,015,383 followers. Justin Bieber follows closely with 10,453,100 (despite actually tweeting 10 times as much), while Barack Obama trails in third with only 8,688,683. Predictably, it’s mostly celebrities in the top 100, though Twitter itself is number 15, narrowly led by Twitter en español in 14th.

Twitaholic is run by, which offers some free stats and a paid service for more detailed info and featured spots on their page. It claims I’ve tweeted precisely eight times every day since May 31, which … dangit, now I have to count. Nope, that’s not remotely correct. Might be my average, but I don’t feel like calculating that.

It should be obvious by now how inadequate any single number is in determining your influence online, especially if the stats aren’t even right. That won’t stop me from begging for followers, though. I’m @CitizenjaQ, and I’m spectacular.

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