The Value of Twitter's Suggested Users List

by Christina Gleason (fka QualityGal) March 18th, 2009 

As a general Twitter user, I'm not sure I find all that much value in Twitter's list of suggested users. I don't have much investment in following JetBlue, NPR, I Can Has Cheezburger, or the New York Times. (I do follow CNN and my local news station.) The selection of celebrities and businesses is so eclectic that it seems completely random. There is no targeting. I don't have a Whole Foods in my area and I can't stand Ashton Kutcher. I don't watch The Ellen Show.

by Joshua Davis

But I may be in the minority. I'm sure there are plenty of Twitter users who go through and check off a few dozen of these tweet streams to follow. How many followers have these suggested users gained by the simple virtue of being on this list? Can they assign a monetary value to this benefit?

Jason Calacanis can. He offered $10,000 a month to be featured on the list, and he thinks that Twitter should sell half of these spots in a similar manner to non-spammers. Dave Winer says that he would be interested in that, too, if only for a few months. Could being featured on this list of suggested users extend your reach farther than if you'd spent the same amount of money on other forms of advertising?

The L.A. Times reports that some of these featured accounts received tens of thousands of new followers in approximately one month. That sounds pretty impressive, but there is speculation about how many of these followers are real people or just an army of spambots. Is this comparable to the percentage of window shoppers and tire kickers that other marketing efforts bring in?

As someone who lacks the sort of funding Jason's plan would require to get featured as a suggested user, I'm more concerned with what this would mean to users like me. Would selling these spots to those with the deepest pockets dilute the value of this list? I'm sure some people would claim that it would, but as I've already mentioned, I find the list of questionable value already.

I think Twitter could add more value to this list - both to potential advertisers and general users - by providing a filtering option. Show the full list by default, but allow users to filter by news, entertainment, business, etc. Even those at the middle or bottom of the list could get decent billing under the relevant filter.

by wili_hybrid

What do you think? Would you consider paying for inclusion on Twitter's list of suggested users? Would it affect your perception of anyone who paid for the privilege?

Christina Gleason

Christina Gleason is a writer, blogger, former Google Quality Rater, and Founder of Phenomenal Content LLC.

Phenomenal Content LLC

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6 Responses to “The Value of Twitter's Suggested Users List”

  1. I am sure that the users that want to pay $10k have calculated the ROI on such an expenditure.

    I am sure the sheer numbers would provide a high enough click through rate to make it an advertising revenue win.

    The unfortunate thing about Twitter is how rapidly it has gone from a vibrant community to a huge metropolitan filled with the same ills as any massive community: crime, spam, hard sell practitioners, affiliate marketing spammers, and the greatest one of alltime–the newly self minted "Social Media Experts" without any credentials let alone a blog.

    I love Twitter but like any jaunt to a big city, I keep my hand on my wallet and on alert to the possible dangers.

  2. Michael D says:

    I'm with you pretty much on that first paragraph. Not value to me, not much interest in following anyone on that list. But I don't think we are the norm at all.

    I do think the paid inclusion is a good idea, and perfectly fine thing to do from a marketers perspective. 10k a month is out of my budget, but just think of how many would pony up to be on top.

  3. I here that twitter is the hottest new social network out there. I am a member of twitter but I still don't see the value of paying 10K to promote yourself or your company on it.

  4. I wen through that entire list and did not find anyone that I wanted to follow. The major reason is because they are not lively to follow mw back and if the did I am sure they will not read my blog. In other words, what is the point?

  5. Kai Lo says:

    *Don't believe my previous comment was submitted*

    If I was well known, I wouldn't have to pay to be featured on Twitter. People will find me because they know me. Also, if I have so many followers, I wouldn't be able to interact with most of them.

  6. I'm with you on this one Christina.

    The thing I can't work out is what value there would be for the actual suggested user, not the follower?

    As people add more and more to the list of people / organisations they follow, the stream becomes too big to handle anyway.

    I would imagine that the kind of twitter user that follows someone on a "suggested people" list would have hundreds, if not thousands of people they're following, so they will probably miss most of the tweets from the suggested user that they are now following anyway.

    I'd be very careful about paying to become a suggested user. I think that followers as a marketing metric is flawed, eyeballs on tweets is really the only metric to use, but I'm not sure how you'd track this.