AS AN ONLINE WRITER, I am sitting on a blog with a declining reach. I can see the numbers erode every week. I can also see the same kind of problem with social media, but I also have handy advice offered by David Armano in a Quora article. To some extent, these follower counts are just a numbers game. You can definitely boost your social reach and try to claim a position of influence by referring to a solo metric. But a single number fails to measure real influence. You need seven different measuring points to accomplish that feat. Casual observers can see those metrics by looking at the number of lists people are on, the replies people get, the number of retweets, the follower ratio, and the volume of tweets spouted by someone online. But it's a little harder to see tweets that earn a "favorite" status and it's a separate exercise to deem whether someone has quality followers. David Armano explains seven useful metrics when trying to suss out someone's influence.
From David Armano, a senior vice president at Edelman Digital:
Being included on lists gives us two clues. First, being included on thousands or more signals that you are visible. Second, the categories people use to classify you tells you something about the topics you have influence in. This is known as “topical influence” and it’s really what counts in influence.
These tell you something about how willing people are to amplify your messages and help them spread. A retweet essentially says “this is something I want my network to see”. It’s Twitter’s version of viral loops.
These signal how much others want to talk to you or intentionally tag you, and also serves as an indicator for how willing you are to engage and tag others. Fewer replies signals fewer social interactions and more broadcast.
4. FOLLOWER RATIO
Generally, if a user on Twitter follows a disproportionate amount of users than follow them, it signals their desire to accumulate followers. Not always, but often. A 50/50 ratio translates to someone following back anyone who follows them, which includes spammers. Twitter users who follow significantly less than are followed indicate some selection process.
5. TWEET VOLUME
This simply indicates how prolific a user is. Those with high volumes who retain high levels of engagement, list counts, retweets, and a healthy ratio are likely providing some type of value. High volume Twitter accounts with suspect ratios, low engagement, etc may have a high noise to signal ratio
Getting favorited frequently does mean something, though because Twitter users leverage Favorites so differently, it’s nearly impossible to discern exactly what, other than you triggered a behavior (the action to Favorite) for some reason.
7. QUALITY OF CONNECTIONS
The most difficult to quantify and probably THE most important indicator is the quality and RELEVANCE of who follows you on Twitter and who you follow back. Targeting the right audience and earning their attention (and Trust) is ultimately the best (and softest metric).
David Armano -- "7 Indicators of Twitter Influence" on Social Fresh, 28 March 2011.
David Leonhardt -- "A Better Way to Measure Twitter Influence" on the NYT Sixth Floor Blog, 26 March 2011.