Twitalyzer: How does it measure up?

January 7, 2011 · 13 comments in social analytics,Social Media,tech business

A few weeks back I met with Klout’s Joe Fernandez. I went in to the session skeptical and walked out respecting what the Klout team has achieved and where the company is trying to go.

That being said, I still harbor more than a few concerns.

This week I had a similar experience with the senior guys at Portland-basedTwitalyzer, another social analytics startup which is also involved with measuring influence.

On the surface of it, these two companies sounded like competitors. By investigating I found them to be on different trajectories and in fact are business partners.

Klout is trying to be the Nielsen of online influence. They are giving a number to every person and brans on social networks. They use over 30 metrics to determine the Klout scores of millions of entities. They do this for free and then make their money by white labeling and through deals with very big companies.

For example, most recently, Klout helped Disney Studios determine influential tweeters to preview their new smash flick, Tangled.

Twitalyzer, also looks at over 30 metrics. They also assign a number to people and brands, but in my conversation with Eric Peterson and Jeff Katz, they emphasized thatthose numbers were not the essence of what they are about. They are a paid-for service designed for organizations of fewer than 1000 employees. A home-office guy can subscribe for as little as $5 a month and their sweet spot is $30.

They provide an aggregate of metrics including Google Analytics and Klout as well as others. Then their customers can look at these various factors and tweak them toward their respective business relevance. They can also update them obsessively if they so choose–or are in the middle of a critical launch.

You also can tweak to find people by sub category, by geographic are and so on.

This sounds so good to me that I intend to sign up.

The company just launched it’s Twitalyzer 4.0 and switched from a mostly free to a mostly paid service. The two guys seemed to be buoyed by the fact they had signed up 100s of new customers in the three days since they pulled the trigger.

I found them to be transparent, passionate, humble and smart–just as I had found Joe Fernandez. I believe that Twitalyzer is among the small handful of social media companies leading an ever-increasing pack of players and I found myself rooting for their success.

But there are issues and it is difficult for me not to personalize them. I imagine this will be the same for a good many of my friends. Let me explain.

I have a Twitalyzer score that toggles between 13.1 and 13.2%. I am personally influence a lot in social analytics by KD Paine [see my recent interview]. Her score is a paltry 5%.

Compare that with Michael Jackson who is at 57% despite the fact that he is dead. KD, at least is categorized as a “reporter,” while I am relegated to being a “social butterfly.”

I could dismiss these numbers and the company posting them as lame. I’m pretty sure that even if Michael were still alive more people would trust KD on social analytics than Michael.

But I am also a member of a burgeoning classification of people known as social media consultants. Until recently prospective clients used Google, our blog sites and maybe wikipedia to research us. More recently Twitter followers and Facebook friends have come into play–whether we like it or not. Most recently–perhaps the last two months, Klout and Twitalyzer scores have come into play.

I have low confidence that many people will like to contract someone whose score is 13.1%. I expressed these and other concerns to Jeff and Eric.

It was as if we changed seats and saw Twitalyzer from opposite sides of the prism. I ended up better understanding and respecting what they were succeeding to to and they got to understand one of my reasons to be concerned with comparative influence rankings.

Their demonstration of the service’s granularity helped to ease my concern. When you slice it right, KD and I score quite well in our categories of relevance where Michael and Ashton Kutcher don’t play.

They made it clear that they did not intend for their product to be used in the ways I described and I think I made clear that at least a few people are using it in precisely that way.

In this light, I think part of the problem is identical with Klout’s. They are both young, tech-driven and are pioneering new ground. They are both doing a far better job with technology, it seems to me, than they are with telling their stories.

And that is a fixable problem.

{ 4 trackbacks }

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February 18, 2011 at 4:01 am

{ 9 comments }

Eric T. Peterson January 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Shel,

Thanks again for covering us last week in your blog and for taking the time to chat with us. Your point about companies making decisions about individuals based on their Twitalyzer scores really got me thinking and I wrote up some thoughts over in the Twitalyzer blog.

We’d love it if you’d have a look and let us know what you think. Long-story-short: we think that anyone using a single metric, especially one they do not understand, to make a hiring, buying, or contracting decision … is making a huge mistake.

http://blog.twitalyzer.com/2011/01/twitalyzer-and-klout/

Again, thank you for pointing your audience towards our service.

Sincerely,

Eric T. Peterson
Founder, Twitayzer
http://twitalyzer.com

Robindickinson dickinson January 10, 2011 at 12:48 am

Great post. I agree with you about twitterlyzer, given few not enough people put the spade work into trade analytics or listening tools sort why would these options be any different. The people I talk to about these 2moro options like the fact that they are simple/rolled up sort surely they miss the point made by the tool developers?

shelisrael January 8, 2011 at 10:55 am

Laura,
In fact, the Twitalyzer guys talked about their passion and interest in the non-profit sector. I will do an email connect for you with Gary Katz so that they can tell you how they can help SARTA.

Christine Cavalier January 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

Wait, are you saying that these businesses were surprised to hear about how you used their service? Do they not understand the ego-driven ways of the social media consultant?

Laura Good January 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

Shel–thanks for sharing what you’ve learned about both Twitalyzer and Klout. There is a lot of buzz on Twitter lately about these influence measurement tools. I agree that the true value in these services is in the “categories of relevance” measurement.

As a program director for a non-profit (SARTA) that focuses on economic development of the tech industry sector in the Sacramento region, I’d be interested in using a service like Twitalyzer to find out which tech focused people & brands in our region are influential social media users. In your opinion, would Twitalyzer be helpful to that end?

Howie at Sky Pulse Media January 8, 2011 at 9:50 am

My big concern with all this measurement is 1] so few people in the US use Twitter each day. Only 6-10mil based on tweet volumes per day and the percent of the network that is Domestic. 2] It is only online public influence. For every Facebook Status update 183 SMS texts are sent. I bet email is even more. And then in person word of mouth or on the phone. So in my view they are measuring less than 0.1% of interpersonal communication. If that much.In fact 80% of Facebook communication is private because that is the % of completely private accounts. 3] Lastly we have no idea who people are. They have no idea. I could be someone who gets photographed and am a mover and a shaker off line where my decisions could cause millions to be spent and tweet just once per day.

So those have been my big issues. I view all this influence measuring like a condiment. Its not the meat but it helps flavor the meat. And since so many industry professionals look at the data and find it inaccurate (like I was gauged to be an Oil Spill Expert because I tweeted heavily bashing BP last spring) it gets mocked often.

I recently took snipits of very influential people with networks 10x my size who are just as active on Twitter and have highly read blogs and they had the same Klout.

This all said. Klout has done an amazing branding job. I like Joe Fernandez. I think everyone likes the Klout people and if anyone is to succeed we would cheer them on. And thank you for elaborating on the business models!

Chris Kieff January 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Shel, you’re absolutely right that Klout and Twitalizer scores have become a big factor recently. While we hate to be boiled down to numbers it’s the only way we can realistically compare unknown factors by gauging them against some arbitrary yardstick. You don’t know me personally and most likely don’t know of me, so how can you value my opinion otherwise?
In a hyperconnected world there isn’t another obvious way to determine the value of an unknown contact.
Thanks for the thought provoking article.
Unknown…

Joe Zuccaro January 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Shel, it’s great that you took the time to speak to the CEOs of these companies and learn more about the services of Klout and Twitalyzer.

Too many marketing/PR people who are now into social media have not had your discipline; with limited working exposure to real analytics (and statistics/informatics), they quickly condemn what they don’t understand. Every day you hear them wailing and gnashing their teeth, especially about Klout.

Eric Peterson is an internationally recognized professional in the analytics space and Joe Fernandez has a solid research background. They’re not snake oil salesmen who are coming up with cute names for their company and hoping to wow the SXSW crowd- they’re a lot into this as you have seen.

The art and science of measuring social media is still in its infancy and I for one am glad that gentlemen like Eric and Joe are helping lead the way. Their work is helping build a foundation that marketers down the line will learn to appreciate.

Peace,

JZ

Soumya January 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm

From your post I get the notion that Twitalyzer is the more robust (accurate) of the 2 as it integrates Klout with other analytics tools. Also it appears that the main difference between the 2 (apart from the above) is their target audience. They have different audiences so though they may be similar they are not competitors? Please clarify

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