Wednesday, July 01, 2009

KD Paine & Partners Deliver a Great Article on Twitter Analysis Tools

I am a friend of Katie's, and I think she would be fine with me sharing this article with everyone. Needless to say it is from her great site All the great information is from Chris Near and the folks at KD Paine & Partners...enjoy!

Which Twitter Profile Analysis Tool Rules the Nest?

5 online Twitter profile analysis services compared: Twinfluence, TwitterAnalyzer, Twitter Grader, Twitterholic, and TwitterScore.

by Chris Near, Director of Research, KDPaine & Partners

Don't miss Chris Near's other article on measuring Twitter, also in this issue of The Measurement Standard: "5 Twitter Sentiment Analyzers Reviewed." The Twitter analysis tools in the article on this page rank a person's entire Twitter profile in terms of popularity and engagement, while the sentiment analysis tools of the other article look specifically at the tone of individual tweets.

So you want to measure Twitter... The good news is that you have several online Twitter profile analysis/ranking services to choose from. The bad news is that you will probably find that none of them offer all the metrics that you really need or want. Especially if you are looking to do the kind of between-client comparisons that we at KDPaine & Partners are usually interested in.

To do very accurate measurement of Twitter, you typically have to use human readers. It's the only way to really understand the language. But, to have human eyes read and rate every tweet often takes a lot of time and money. For fast and free measurement, the online profile analysis tools are the way to go.

Automated analysis has accuracy problems, especially when it comes to the subtle language iinvolved in measuring sentiment. (See "5 Twitter Sentiment Analyzers Reviewed.") If we had a way to combine all the tools reviewed below, then we might have something really useful. Until then, we'll have to weigh the pros and cons of each and make the best decision.

So here's my report on five of the Twitter profile analyzers. I'm sure there are more out there, and I'd love to hear about them. (And if you think what I have to say here needs some clarification, please let me know).

Twinfluence offers interesting statistics (social capital, velocity, centralization) as well as a percent ranking system that compares the twitterer you analyze to other people. The catch is that it only compares you to other people that have previously been analyzed on Twinfluence. Their website says: "The #XXX score is your overall rank compared to all other twitterers that have been analyzed by Twinfluence. If your rank is #400, that means there are 399 other twitterers in the system who have higher reach scores than you."

To date, there have been less than 100,000 profiles analyzed on Twinfluence (that number is going up every day). So you can't rank anyone against the other 5 or 6 million twitterers out there (and that number is really going up every day, see Mashable). That makes the Twinfluence ranking pretty useless until more people get analyzed on their site.

TwitterAnalyzer is good for getting graphs that show your past month's message volume, your tweeting habits, the subjects you discuss, the links you use, and pretty much everything you would ever want to know. Which is great. But it lacks what is sometimes the most important thing: a ranking or scoring system that compares different Twitter pages. Without that you can't make competitive comparisons.

Twitter Grader sounds excellent, in theory. It takes the follow/follower ratio and combines measures of engagement to come up with a final grade of 0 to 100. It gives a score based on a large population (2,158,455). However, a recent hubspot Twitter grading blog post implies that their algorithm is still a work in progress.

And I do have problems with it. Consider the following results:
How can Vocus have relatively few followers, zero updates and still get a score of 87? Even if there were 10,000 people following Vocus, there are no updates so there is no communication or engagement between Vocus and its followers. Why does it get any score at all?

I also looked at Twitterholic and TwitterScore, but found them too problematic to take seriously. On the day I tested Twitterholic over half of my searches resulted in page errors. (Since then, I've tested it with a little more success.) The site gives a ranking for your Twitter page, but it is based entirely on the number of your followers. It doesn't calculate anything like updates or other forms of engagement. It's good for popularity, but not activity or interaction.

TwitterScore gives you a rank comparing you to all the other people that have previously been ranked on their site. Right now the rank is only out of 43,048 users. They also give you a score on a 10 point scale, but there is no information on how they come up with that score or what their ranking is based on.

Which service rules the nest?
If your goal is to give the clients a final score or ranking that compares one Twitter page with others, then I would recommend Twitter Grader. (But look out for anomalous scores, as noted above.) If your goal is to track clients' competitors and how they use Twitter and what topics they discuss and who follows them, then I would recommend TwitterAnalyzer. I also recommend that you keep looking: None of these is perfect, and newer and better tools will come along quickly.

Don't miss Chris Near's other article on measuring Twitter, also in this issue of The Measurement Standard: "5 Twitter Sentiment Analyzers Reviewed"

Chris Near is Director of Research for KDPaine & Partners. Chris recently graduated with his master's in communications and currently devotes most of his time to measuring PR and developing social media methodologies. That is, of course, when he's not at home tending to his lovely wife, Valerie, or chasing around his tireless two year-old son, Brendan.


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