What Does Your Authority Index Say About You?

Left untouched, nature operates in a maximally efficient state. This means that in the long run, nature is always going to favor the most efficient path. In other words, efficiency wins.

Everything you do can (and should!) be viewed as an extension of nature. Whether you’re hacking your way around a golf course, running a business, or trying to figure out who to follow on Twitter, you’ll get the best results if you always strive to operate efficiently.

You see, nature has done us an incredible favor by literally showing us the blueprint for success. You want to win? Be efficient. You want to survive? Be efficient. You want to grow? Be efficient. It can be said, then, that efficiency is actually a universal tie that binds everything we do. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that checking on your efficiency is the universal equivalent of checking your pulse.

Want to know how you’re doing? Check your efficiency.

Let’s look at a real world example:

So what does your Authority Index say about you?

Naturally, it says how efficient you are! ;)

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43 comments… read them below or add one

K FLYER October 21, 2009

So how to be efficient ?


Carolyn October 21, 2009

where’s your wife beater shirt? better question, where is @missieur? you promised him a website.


Justin Wright October 21, 2009

I agree 110%. What really pisses me off is when “social media guru’s” follow me on Twitter. Then I take a look at their profile and they’re following 7,000 more people than they have following them. Yet all they do is brag about having “x” many followers.

And it’s true about Twitter. They really need to figure something out because money in does not equal money out. Hopefully they figure out a business model in the near future.


Mark October 21, 2009

When I see someone with 30,000 followers on twitter but they follow 30,000 people themselves, in my mind they have about the same influence and authority as someone following 1 person and having 1 follower.

It’s not social proof and it just makes you look spammy.

I get what your saying about about the backwards business model (and it’s quite impressive what you and Brian have done with DIYthemes), but a platform like Twitter with millions of users will have authority even with no revenue. Even with no profits they would still make a killing if they sold it. And yes they need to monetize for the future and I also would be willing to pay to use it.


Joe July 24, 2012

Hmm I dont know about nature being efficient. Doesnt it take ages to get things done? Sure its good at packing and reusing energy.


Muiden October 22, 2009

Spot on! I really think that twitter itself is not seeing the value of their service because if they did they would not hesitate to charge their users for it. Personally, I think that if they would charge $9,99 a year per user it would give them a nice stream of income and, more importantly, it would validate their business case if they still kept a large user base. Of course they would lose a chunk of their users, but customers who do not value a service enough to pay less than a dollar a month for it are not worth being your customers anyway.

I think DIYThemes is a perfect example of a business that charges for a product for which there are free alternatives and yet its quality means that people still want to pay for it.


Cynthia LaLuna October 22, 2009

Wow! New vid! I’m SO jealous of that midcentury backdrop with that ceiling and those windows. Thumbed through the latest Atomic Ranch mag last night and thought of you. Enviously.

Excellent points you made re efficiency – and I feel if both Twitter and Craigslist charged a nominal fee, life would be a LOT less spammy and hugely more efficient. I’m not quite sure about the ultimate motives or the future behind the culture of “free.” Sometimes I have rather dark thoughts about it – in terms of a way to control and disseminate information to the masses – but this is not the place for that.

I do find it interesting the sense of ownership people have over “free” services when they fail, or whenever the owners change the ToS – whenever Twitter, Facebook or Gmail fail to work properly, I always shake my fist at the screen, and with no small amount of irony, demand my money back.


John Hamilton Farr October 22, 2009

Hey man, nice to see you “in person.” I very much appreciate your take on this, too. It’s never made sense to me that some people follow so many others. Based on your observations, I’m doing just fine with my own Twitter practices. Heh.


Stu McLaren October 22, 2009

I totally agree.

It continues to amaze me how so many of these companies continue to get praise before they’ve even turned a profit.

In fact, many companies (like you pointed out) are just burning through so much cash and no one seems to even care.

Forget “potential”.

As Cuba Gooding Jr. would say…

“Show me the money” :)

All the best.



Magnus October 23, 2009

I think that VC companies know how to spend their money smart. They don’t just want to give away their money. They sometimes fund safe businesses which will yield a relatively small profit, compared to those more unsafe like Twitter where they can hit a potential jackpot.

And would Twitter have the same potential today if it had not been free? I think it would have been 1% the size it is today if they charged from the getgo. The strategy they are using is to first dominate the world, then find a way to monetize that. There is nothing wrong with that, and once they do find a way to do just that, they will be making a whole lot of money.

Would you seriously pay $9.99 for Twitter per year if nobody was using it?


Rob Chant October 23, 2009

Interesting point of view… the trouble is, nature is often massively inefficient. How many eggs are laid by a salmon per one that hatches? How many cherry blossoms are created for every one that helps a tree form?

The key difference between nature and humans is that nature re-uses all it’s by products, whereas humans create an incredible amount of waste. Every salmon egg that doesn’t hatch becomes food for another creature. Every cherry blossom mulches down into the soil.


Chris Pearson October 23, 2009

Rob — Do you see the irony in your comment? While explaining nature’s inefficiency, you’ve shown how efficient nature is :D


Matt Hart October 23, 2009

Chris – Efficiency requires a purpose.

Twitter has something extremely valuable, they have information. Some people just look further than one year ahead, and occasionally you have to trust that people who are willing to invest so much into the company have a viable exit strategy.

p.s DIY Themes =’s Awesome.. my site is built with it… everyones should be :)


TomCayman October 23, 2009

LOVE IT ! :)

Come on man, tell ’em like it is :)

A couple of thoughts though :
– I don’t think the ratio of followers:following is all that it is about, it is more complex.
– I think a better ratio is those you follow who also follow you back as a percentage of your total followers.
– To use myself, I have (today) 300 followers and I am following 265.. so nearly 1:1, yes ?
– in fact, they are pretty much different sets.. I follow people I want to follow, people follow me because they want to read what I say.. there are only 35 people out of my followers who I follow back… the other 230 people I follow are ones that I have chosen.
– Taking that into consideration, my nearly 1:1 ratio gets closer to 10:1

That’s one thought.. my second thought ? the world of marketing is totally infested with social media experts.. many of whom had nothing to do with the world of marketing until they started tweeting…heck, “social media” is just one element in any integrated marketing campaign, but there are literally thousands of parasitical “experts” out there providing consulting/bootcamps/seminars/conferences to all those businesses who are running to get on the train, no matter where it is going.

Your rant inspired me, my rant.. done :)

Oh, btw, don’t anybody follow me on Twitter if you expect and automatic follow back….


Rae October 23, 2009



Michael @badassdadblog October 23, 2009

I agree with many of TomCayman’s comments, and would add a few of my own.

You’re making an assumption here which I don’t think you state explicitly – you assume the objective of the Twitter user is to wield influence over a large number of people.

For a business-oriented Twitter account, this is certainly a safe assumption. But for folks who use social media to be, uh, social, I don’t think your index holds.

When I see an individual who isn’t a celebrity or a representative of a large brand with a follows:follower ratio of, say, 70:1, I tend to assume first that person is a self-important dick until they prove otherwise. My follows:follower ratio is about 1:1, because for the most part I’m on Twitter to interact, not just broadcast.


Chris Pearson October 23, 2009

Michael — I think your assumption that someone with a high follower:following ratio is “a self-important dick until they prove otherwise” is extremely shortsighted.

Although my ratio would qualify me as one of these “self-important dicks,” the truth is that I probably communicate with far more people on Twitter than you (or most of the free world) do. That communication takes place via @ replies, and the only difference is that I don’t provide everyone with a gold trophy for participating by following them back.

It’s nothing personal at all—it’s all about managing my own signal-to-noise ratio. Ever heard of Dunbar’s Number? Basically, by following everyone back (because perhaps you view it as “polite?”), you’re just extending a meaningless, conciliatory gesture that, upon further scrutiny, only increases the amount of noise you experience in your social media space.


Sonia Simone October 23, 2009

The only assumption you can make about someone with significantly more followers than follow-ees is that the person has more people who want to listen to them than they have bandwidth to listen to others. Any other meaning is something you add to the equation.

You may well conclude that I am a self-important dick, but it seems to me that my Twitter ratio would be pretty silly evidence for it. (My Twitter content is another matter, of course.) Like Chris, I spend a lot of time replying to @ messages, but I see no earthly reason to follow everyone who follows me.


TomCayman October 23, 2009

Aargh.. don’t you hate it when someone says they agree with you then goes on to make a point you don’t agree with ?

I don’t agree with Michael… I am on Twitter to interact FOR my business… for social use, hey, Facebook is calling.

Chris.. I prefer “monkeysphere” to calling it Dunbar’s Number, but also like Sonia’s use of the term “bandwidth”…. but, put another way… human brain can’t cope with that much interaction.. if you find you need one of those software addons to manage the amount of Twitter content you are following… probably beyond your own sphere of managing monkey relationships.

One last thought…. the generally accepted monkeysphere number is about 150 relationships…. if there is one thing that makes me shake my head more than people following thousands of others on Twitter, it is people on Facebook with hundreds upon hundreds of friends. Newsflash.. I don’t care how popular you think you are, nobody has that many friends.. most of those people are “friends”.

Right, happy hour in Cayman after a long week.. Sunset House and a cold Red Stripe beckons.


Michael @badassdadblog October 23, 2009

First, my snarkiness was intentional and a bit sarcastic – I used your follows:follower ratio, Chris, to make a point. I don’t really think you’re a dick.

Second, I don’t follow back everyone who follows me. I do tend to follow people who interact with me via @ replies after checking out their Tweet stream to see if they have common interests. If it later turns out their tweets aren’t that interesting, I’ll unfollow.

If you only interact with people who @ you, you are still primarily a broadcaster, because the conversations would usually be about you or something you tweeted or wrote on your blog, etc.

If, on the other hand, you are @ing others about something they wrote, you’re taking a more balanced approach.

I suppose you could be @ing others proactively based on Twitter searches, reading things they wrote outside of Twitter, or scanning the public stream, but that seems doubtful.

None of this is right or wrong. How you use Twitter is entirely linked to WHY you use Twitter. If it’s to get your message out, a low follows:follower ratio makes sense. If it’s to interact mutually on topics of common interest, a more balanced ratio makes sense. If it’s to absorb information from others, a high ratio might be right for you. It’s all about your objective.


Chris Pearson October 23, 2009

Michael — I hadn’t considered those who might be using Twitter to accumulate information, and that’s certainly valid. Either way, it’s still just a detraction from the point I was really trying to make in the video, which is the idea that there are simple, meaningful metrics that you can point to as indicators of effectiveness.


Michael @badassdadblog October 23, 2009

Tom – Just because I agree with you about SOME things doesn’t mean we have to agree about EVERYTHING. :)

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.


Yvonne October 30, 2009

That’s a very effective and easy to use platform, love the controls and design layout features


Doug Cone October 31, 2009

The true cost of your company wasn’t $358 alone. You could have made money doing other things when you spent your time building the company. Then include the cost of your education, things like that and it becomes a different ratio altogether. I totally get your point but the comparison is to simple.

Also, Twitter is making money now. They’re selling access to their data stream to Google and Bing. I’d bet that they’re selling it for more than $1 million.


Trevor November 2, 2009

There is going to be another tech bubble, except this time it is going to be the new “social web bubble” that bursts.

Money goes in, no money comes out, oops…


Kiran November 2, 2009

There is no short-cuts in pursuing success. Efficiency is the key ingredient. I liked your point-of-views.


Rocky Garcia November 11, 2009

You’re absolutely right. Efficiency always win! Therefore focus more on efficiency on marketing your blog.


Juliemarg November 25, 2009

Great point, but I think you need to practice your math. ;^D


aaron wall December 6, 2009

I agree with you on 99%+ of items Chris, but the big issue here is that…you assume attention is reciprocal.

What about the people who just add a ton of reciprocal follow, never pay attention to Twitter (beyond spamming it), and then just try to make the number look as big as possible (because that helps their messages spread & they can use that number in other forms of media as a sign of personal importance)?

And then there are people who use tools to automatically tweet 4 or 5 times for each original tweets. And if one interviews one of those spammers (and those spammers cover/mention that interview 10 different ways 5 different times with 10,000 followers) then that can be a lot of exposure. ;)


Chris Pearson December 6, 2009

Aaron — I assume that over time, these people who aren’t really engaged will be shunned and ignored by the active members of the community. I may be wrong, but in 10 years, I expect that any relevant web application will have an effective measure of checking for genuineness at the door.


aaron wall December 7, 2009

I think in time lots of people will grow to understand such measures. But they will always be a small % of the population as a whole.

The book How to Lie with Statistics was published in 1954…and since then none of the issues in it have materially changed. When HTML5 comes out and it is even easier for the average online publisher to generate graphs and such I suspect that there will be much more pain before there could possibly be any improvement on this front.

The need for media to sell stories in headlines (and the need for public relations teams to sell the story of growth to generate additional growth and/or funding) will mean that numbers are frequently used to deceive people.

For instance, if occasionally going down gets Twitter more press is that a bad thing? If 25% of their accounts are spam, but it shows growth happening faster and allows them to get more short term capital, then to them is it a bad thing?

Getting spammed up is part of the growth process of just about any online media ecosystem. And even if there are new numbers made up, they will still be gamed. Marketing evolves much faster than human nature does. Think of how complex Google is and how many resources they have, and yet they are gamed every day of the year!

While the smart people may be able to see beyond it (because they know what is going on and have seen it before) most people will just follow wherever the hype leads them, and dismiss those stating otherwise as contrarian cynics.


Rob McCance December 19, 2009

I’ve always subscribed to this. After my BSEE, I went to work for The Man and lasted two years. Since then, I’ve been self employed.

I’ve run several small companies in the last 12 years. I learned a long time ago that it’s not how big you can get but if you can turn a profit and stay in business.

A 4 man company selling $1M in widgets with a 40% margin is better than a $1B company with 3000 employees operating at a $50M loss.


BlackHost March 6, 2010

How about a 1200 employee company (owned by a Fortune 100 entity) whose gross sales in 2009 were $1.7 Billion dollars, and the parent company (to remain nameless) forced these 1700 employees to take 3 weeks of unpaid time off in 2009.???

Yes that was me taking 3 weeks of unpaid time off. Me being one of 1700 north american employees who generated $1.7 billion in sales, to take 3 weeks unpaid time off.

Thus, I have ramped up my (side) internet bussinesses to stick it to the “secondary division CEO” who received a $10 Million “retainage” bonus, while most every employee in my divison (my division being the largest of the total 170, 000 worldwide total employees) taking 3 weeks of “unpaid time off”.

Oh, tell about 45,000 employees under you that they have to take 3 weeks unpaid leave, while you (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, WHARTON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS ALUMNI) so you can maneuver yourself a $10 MILLION DOLLAR RETAINAGE BONUS.

To quote Barney Miller…

We are all going to hell in a handbasket!


Dan December 21, 2009

I agree with you rob, there is an old saying “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity”


locksmith December 21, 2009

Hmm I dont know about nature being efficient. Doesnt it take ages to get things done? Sure its good at packing and reusing energy.


heper January 13, 2010

The game theories that reqiure much liquidity have to die at the economy of this time. You should create 10 units of value by spending 1 unit of asset and that is what producing added-value. For this you need to have a hi-tech process system.
That was another opinion from me but the new century’s winners will be the new tech owners.


Kevin Spence January 25, 2010

I’m a little late to the post here, but Chris does practice what he preaches in terms of responding to tweets. He doesn’t know me from the homeless dude stalking him from the tree outside (seriously, he’s out there), but still responds to my tweets. And that’s pretty awesome.

If Thesis wasn’t already great enough, that interaction has solidified my loyalty to his brand.


Chris Pearson January 25, 2010

Thanks, man. I’d blush, but I’m too worried about that homeless dude :D


Black Host February 14, 2010

I used to be a Twitter naysayer, wondering why and how someone could have 4023 followers and following 4063 people. There aren’t enough hours in a summer solstice day to view the inane tweets of 4000 people. That is undeniable.

The fact is that Twitter works for me as a way to make “some” sales with just my blood, sweat and tears…and my time.

In my main internet business, my adjacent web competitors spend upwards of $30K per day in PPC advertising. Yes, I said “PER DAY”.

Every and I mean EVERY keyword and keyword combination of ANY product or service is dominated in the search engines by goliath corporations with ad budgets in the millions yearly. How is an every day web entrepreneur gonna survive.

Social media helps me along. I am not an Ashton Kutcher with 1 million following me, but to me Twitter and many other social media services have become outlets for business, NOT for Johhny to know what Susie is doing right now. Who the &#*($ cares, right?

Social media has been taken over by business, period.


Matt Markezich March 6, 2010

The reason Twitter is so valuable though is not based off anything empirical besides it’s number of users and the site’s overall activity. (which is somewhere near 50million messages a day now, I think?)

If Twitter took your advice and charged, I’d imagine it’s actual value would decline DRAMATICALLY. I think this solely off the number of users it would lose. Yes, they would be bringing in more money than $0 but they would also lose over half their user base.

If Twitter wanted to make money, which I’m sure they do. They’d be wise to adopt a Facebook style approach or something similar, in my opinion.

Just to be elementary for a second: The second you raise the price on anything, there’s going to be a shift in the demand for that thing. And on a service such as Twitter, I’d imagine it’s elasticity of demand is a very high number.


Dena Tasarım March 9, 2010

Wow… Never thought about that. Nice… and thanks for the clip and the article :)


Louisse April 13, 2010

You’re making an assumption here which I don’t think you state explicitly – you assume the objective of the Twitter user is to wield influence over a large number of people.


WG Moore May 2, 2010

Many companies start out with exactly this business model: First build popularity and following. Second, build dependence. Third, start monetizing the business. Fourth, go public. Sometimes number four comes before number 3.

VCs don’t throw millions of dollars at a project without all the due dilligence and expectation of getting it back many times over. Your business, and the way you have developed it says much more about your business acumen than those who started Twitter. Thus, in the eyes of investors, you are a better investment.


Hoot and/or Holler

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