Twitter by the Numbers: measuring influence within my own social network

Graph showing the number of tweets per month for @matthurst on Twitter

Since Twitter was a start-up it has fostered a strange fascination with numbers: 140 characters, following-to-follower ratios, and a whole ecosystem to measure RTs and @’s from influential people.  Since I’m a communications professional working with social media, I’ve made it my business to try using many of these measurement tools, both for clients and my own (perhaps narcissistic) profiles.  Of course numbers only tell part of the story of interpersonal influence; gross popularity means less than the net of mutual friends who can trust each others’ judgment.

I share this fascination with measurement, especially in understanding interpersonal influence. As a result, my use of Twitter has been synonymous with my professional growth at the beginning of my career, charting my own progress all the while.  On this blog alone I’ve written about Twitter nearly a dozen times; to date search results for “Twitter Internship” bring the most organic visitors to this blog. My use of Twitter is frequently the first thing people learn about me, often before we’ve ever met.

So to celebrate tweet #8888 (88 is sort of a lucky number of mine), I wanted to thank 8 followers on Twitter who have been following me since the beginning (or at least the longest):

  • @CourtneyChesley – My first follower, who introduced me to Twitter in September 2007. She’s really creative, smart to boot, and is one of the most generous people I’ve met through social media.
  • @GeekDave – Dave’s a blogger I met as another blogger in STL; naturally we have a lot in common. Geeky is the new hip, as far as he’s concerned.
  • @Lolololori – Lori is a passionate advocate for the things she loves – music, local culture, and online media – as thusly serves as a role model to all of us.
  • @BillStreeter – Bill continues to be an early adopter, probably making him the biggest social media rockstar I know online and IRL.
  • @LaurenReid – The better half of my social media relationship status was also the first person I convinced to join Twitter.  Though reluctant adopter at first, Lauren probably has the most social media savvy of anyone I know.
  • @BarackObama – What, really? I’m a little skeptical of this, although Twitter insists his account is among the longest of my mutual followers. His own mastery of new media in a campaign inspired a whole generation of my peers, and led me to persue political communication in DC the fall of 2008.
  • @Bitca – My long lost friend from a past social media life (on a social network which no longer exists) is an early adopter, occasional geek, and a one woman force-to-be-reckoned-with.
  • @CMaue – Chris Maue is my colleague from the class of 2008 at Webster University, creative companion, and eventual inheritor of my Highway 61 (revised) legacy.  He’s never afraid to try innovative tools for himself, and has earned the right to call me out on my own BS.

I think @GBullard probably belongs somewhere in that list, alongside these other early followers who are Honorable mentions: @socialthing, @ioubeer, @NaomiSilverArt, @LisaRokusek, @StephenTColbert, @PubDef, @TwitPic, and @TheRoyale

Keyword cloud of @MattHurst on Twitter made with Wordle

In addition to qualitative measurement of these long standing social media relationships, I found a few surprising quantitative results:

  • I made 1224 tweets before I gained my first 88 followers on May 12, 2008
  • I gained my 1000 follower @DrakeTex on March 19th, 2010
  • I joined Twitter 931 days ago (September 15, 2007), and like most others on Twitter my audience grew most over the last year.
  • #PRcamp is my most frequently used hashtag- 35 times -before, during, and following the event in November 2009.
  • I’ve earned at least 533 mutual followers out of the 775 I’m following.  Over 70% of these contact might be considered my friends on any other social network!
  • I was retweeted the most during #PRCamp, where I reached a potential audience of 8839 through RTs from 6 other participants.
  • At least 16% of my tweets are replies to other users, and another 7% are RTs, which help share good ideas and offer feedback.
  • Over 50% of my tweets come from Twitter clients rather than on, as most other users do. This usually means site visits through Twitter links will be difficult to distinguish from organic or direct traffic.

Perhaps its not surprising then that Twitter itself is on of the most frequent subjects I discuss using Twitter, wherein the medium is also the message.  Let’s consider this an ongoing conversation that I invite you to join by following me @MattHurst on Twitter.