News Sites on Twitter: Who is Making the Most Impact?

I have done several posts on news organizations and Facebook recently so I thought it was time to switch things up and look at Twitter again. There is of course much more to the social media universe than just The Bobbsey Twins. But Twitter, Facebook in some cases Digg still represent the majority of social media referrals to many news sites, so they continue to be a priority.

Since I have ranked news sites in various areas in the past (Facebook Pages, page speed and domain authority) I thought I’d do something similar for their Twitter profiles. The easiest thing to compare is reach based on Twitter followers and I’ve included that data below. But which news sites are making the most of their Twitter presence?

To help answer that question I used Twitalyzer to evaluate the main Twitter profile of 30+ major news organizations including a mix of newspapers, magazines, TV and online-only outlets. There are many different Twitter analysis tools out there but I’ve seen Twitalyzer mentioned several times recently so I decided to try it out.

The data point they make available without a subscription is called “Impact.” Impact is calculated by combining the following factors:

  • The number of followers a user has
  • The number of unique references and citations of the user in Twitter
  • The frequency at which the user is uniquely retweeted
  • The frequency at which the user is uniquely retweeting other people
  • The relative frequency at which the user posts updates

A paid Twitalyzer account also provides Influence and Engagement scores which would be interesting to look at another time.

Please accept the usual caveats about the accuracy of the data, methodology of the tool, etc. What I am most interested in is making a relative comparison between the various news sites. With that in mind here are the main Twitter profiles for 30+ news organizations ranked by Impact score:

 Twitter ProfileImpact ScoreFollowers (6/15/10)
1@nytimes78.5%2,461,060
2@cnnbrk77.3%3,139,883
3@TIME76.9%2,084,779
4@huffingtonpost76.6%602,576
5@CBSNews76.4%1,574,106
6@BreakingNews76.4%1,754,066
7@nprnews76.2%246,752
8@WSJ75.8%313,487
9@washingtonpost75.8%122,716
10@Reuters67.2%157,313
11@foxnews66.7%219,791
12@USATODAY66.6%57,053
13@bbcworld66.3%223,979
14@TheEconomist62.1%268,702
15@Newsweek61.1%1,243,861
16@latimes57.5%65,928
17@guardiannews47.2%68,325
18@TelegraphNews46.4%15,249
19@ABC42.6%1,109,928
20@AP40.1%84,683
21@bbcnews38.2%49,669
22@PBS32.1%544,774
23@msnbc31.7%38,607
24@FT25.6%96,742
25@ColonelTribune23.0%862,221
26@YahooNews19.2%29,025
27@Forbes16.8%2,440
28@NBCNews11.5%50,483
29@BW7.7%7,774
30@csmonitoronline6.1%5,554
31@aolnews3.7%4,757

@nytimes takes #1 by a small margin but the top nine Twitter profiles are all closely bunched together with Impact scores between 75.8% and 78.5%. Starting with #10 things begin to drop off. At the bottom of the table poor @BW, @csmonitoronline and @aolnews each got scores below 10%.

I thought @ColonelTribune would have scored much higher than 23% since they have a decent number of followers and it is a dynamic, popular Twitter profile. It is also interesting that despite that low score the profile is still in the 99.4th percentile:

Twitalyzer - @ColonelTribune Twitter profile

Perhaps @ColonelTribune is more popular among industry professionals (as an example of a great Twitter persona) than typical users and news consumers. Or maybe Twitalyzer missed the boat on that one. What do you think?

UPDATE:
Jeff Katz, Twitalyzer’s Product Lead, gave me some more information on how Impact scores are calculated and how this would factor into @ColonelTribune’s 23%:

“As you pointed in your post, the Impact score is calculated (and weighted) based on a few variables. While I would have to dig in a bit further, I did notice that @ColonelTribune does many things well on Twitter, but he (or she) :-) does not retweet others, which is one of the factors of the Impact score. In fact, @ColonelTribune only RT’d someone else just once in the past 90 days. That said, @ColonelTribune is in the 99.4th % in terms of Impact and given that it is the only regional account (kind of hard to argue that NY Times is not a bigger national and international account) in the top 25 speaks volume.”

So specific to Impact, it is important not only to be retweeted but to retweet others as well. This also shows that despite its lack of retweeting and the fact that the Chicago Tribune is somewhat regional in nature (they do also compete for national news online) @ColonelTribune has done well to reach the 99.4th percentile.

Jeff also pointed out that because the free version of Twitalyzer is an on-demand service they only processes scores when someone manually requests a particular profile to be updated. This has an impact on the way the various metrics are calculated. The scores are based on 30 day averages so profiles that are updated more often are working with a larger data set than profiles that may have been updated only once. So the number of times that @ColonelTribune has been updated in the last 30 days will also factor into its Impact score and other metrics.

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