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…

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.