Twitter And Authority-Based Search – No Thanks

Authority search on Twitter Loic Le Meur and Michael Arrington are calling for Twitter to add authority-based filtering to its search function so that people can filter results based on the number of followers a person has.

My response: No thanks.

I don’t see how this will hurt anyone who doesn’t want to use the function, so I don’t really mind if Twitter implements it; I just won’t use it. I also think the Twitter team has much better things to focus their time and money on.

Why I won’t use an authority-based search on Twitter

Volume is irrelevant for my personal use

Le Meur says "I am not saying someone who has more followers than yourself matters more…"

Yes he is. That’s exactly what he’s saying. His entire post is centred around that assumption. That’s fine; he’s right to a great extent – when Arrington, Scoble or Le Meur tweet something it does spread more quickly than when someone like me tweets it.

For me personally, though, I don’t care how many followers someone has on Twitter. I can think of several people who, when I started to follow them, were new to Twitter and had few followers, yet attracted my attention by writing very useful posts. Meanwhile, I can think of plenty of highly followed people who write next to nothing that I find interesting.

What’s more, follower numbers are easy to game. Spammers and old-hat marketers try it all the time – they follow thousands of people in the knowledge that they’ll gain a decent number of followers as lots of people automatically follow anyone who follows them.

I don’t prioritize clients’ customers by volume

I have Twitter searches set up for every client I work on. If I see a relevant Twitter message about a client, I’ll respond for some clients or run it up the flagpole for others. I’d be lying if I don’t look at follower numbers but it doesn’t reflect how I approach the response. Why? Because you never know what will happen in the future. That person with five followers now might gain thousands down the road.

Like I said, I really don’t mind if an authority-based search is introduced. I’m unlikely to use it, but it won’t hurt me and it won’t change how I use the service. I’d prefer they fixed the important things first though. You know, maybe that instant messaging functionality we once enjoyed…

13 Responses toTwitter And Authority-Based Search – No Thanks

  • Twitter Comment by @tweetturd (tweetturd)

    Knock it off with the “twitter authority” crap [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Le Meur says “I am not saying someone who has more followers than yourself matters more…”

    Yeah, lol… from reading the post I don’t see how he is saying anything else.

    Someone with tens of thousands of followers might have a little more influence, but I think it’s quite arrogant to assume the “authority” because of follower numbers.

    Good post.

  • It seems to me search by Twitter authority might be useful. However, there are at least two problems I foresee. One, there is no guarantee the “authority” is indeed an authority on the topic on which you are interested. Just because Jason Calcanis has umpteen thousand followers doesn’t make him an authority on depression or the economy. Two, some Twitter accounts have a large number of followers because they are celebrities or corporate representatives. Again, no guarantee these are experts on what you want to know about.

    Another problem is that some widely followed Twitterers who no longer contribute. Barack Obama for example.

    It seems to me this is an elitist effort to consolidate power and knowledge in the hands of a few. It’s the antithesis to what social media and Twitter in particular stand for.

    There’s just too much wrong with this idea.

  • Twitter Comment by @rharris (Roger Harris)

    Commenting on Twitter And Authority-Based Search – No Thanks [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • *Slow clap* – Dave, I don’t know how you do it, but you keep echoing my own thoughts in your blog. And you manage to do it days before I dream of similar posts.

    Twitter authority is bullshit. I follow a lot of the so-called Twitter Rock Stars, those with thousands and thousands of followers, and while many of them do an admirable job of engaging followers, it’s impossible for them to keep up with the flow. I much prefer convos with my little Canadian (largely Ottawa and TO) circle of PR friends; I tend to get more out of them.

  • Twitter Comment by @nicolemw (Nicole Wasowski)

    Good thoughts from @davefleet on why authority and number of followers shouldn’t determine worth on Twitter, [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Twitter Comment by @lisawilberding (Lisa Wilberding)

    RT @davefleet Twitter And Authority-Based Search – No Thanks [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • Echoing the sentiment that Joe Boughner made, you’ve read my mind by about 3 days – dammit!! 🙂

    As pretty much everyone’s saying here, it’s too flawed to be of any use. Auto-follows, spam follows, follows then unfollows to boost numbers… there are too many variants for this to work.

    Besides, authority to me is someone who knows what they’re talking about and share that knowledge for the benefit of others. Authority is when I hear someone say “That guy/gal knows his/her stuff, you should check them out.”

    It’s like the whole Twitter Grader carry on – it’s a fun tool, nothing more, nothing less. Yet people are saying “You should listen to me, I’m a Twitter Elite.” Yeah? Don’t you mean Twitter Elitist?

    Show me a tool that can be classed as a Twitter Connector and then I might be interested. Saying someone has authority because they’re followed by Darth Vader, The Real Britney Spears and other similar “names”? Nah, not for me, thanks.

    Cheers Dave, another damn fine post. 🙂

  • Dave,

    Great article. It’s a fascinating area for research, authority is a hugely subjective matter. One person’s authority is another’s minority.

    I’d be interested to get your thoughts on the following blog post – and your readers too! All the best. M

  • Completely agree with you Dave. Quality over quantity and I think that speaks to the larger social media trend of helping hone in and connect with niche interests and communities. I respect that some Twitter users that have a ton of followers may be leaders in the field but I find that I get far more use out of the site just monitoring what these folks are saying and instead connecting with a core group of users who have similar interests and great ideas to share. They haven’t adopted this for Europe yet, but TwellowHood actually auto-ranks based on the number of followers one has –

  • actully, i dont like using Twitter.

Trackbacks & Pings