Content Marketing

What is Authority?

If you do some searches of the major sites announcing Twitter’s Authority debate, you’ll find my rants made on the majority of the comments. It’s driving me nuts that everyone keeps talking about it – and someone even went and build Twitority and Twithority.

A better name would have been Search Tweets in Descending Order by Number of Followers.

I know, that’s a terribly long name, but this is exactly what it is. It’s not Authority.

Definition of Authority

A person or organization having power or control in a particular, typically political or administrative, sphere.

In order for someone to receive Authority on or off the Internet, it requires a couple of things:

  • A tangible, proven history of knowledge or practice in an area of expertise.
  • An acknowledgment of that expertise by others with authority.

These sorting engines for Twitter lack both. When I tweeted about Valkyrie a couple of days ago, I would have popped up in the results with my 3,200 followers. Chris Pirillo’s Tweet on Valkyrie is #1 in the results today – because of his 24,000 followers:

Chris Pirillo Tweets on Valkyrie

I love Chris Pirillo, but he doesn’t have a lick of authority (sorry Chris!) in reviewing Valkyrie.

Even they only have 1,872 followers, it’s probably a lot more accurate to state that NY Times Movies Twitter, from the NY Times Movies page, has far more authority than me, Chris or anyone else in the results. And the NY Times Twitter account has a fraction of the followers.

I do believe there is room in social media for authority. I believe Google’s pagerank algorithm may be a great start. A Twitter application that monitors retweets, recency of tweets, frequency of tweets and number of followers (based on their authority and relationship) on a given area of expertise would be fantastic! I’d love to be able to search for the best business blogging twitterers out there!

Authority isn’t simply how many people follow you. Authority is how many people respect you in a specific area of expertise.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and recognized expert on digital transformation. Doug is a Keynote and Marketing Public Speaker. He's the VP and cofounder of Highbridge, a firm specializing in assisting enterprise companies to digitally transform and maximize their technology investment utilizing Salesforce technologies. He's developed digital marketing and product strategies for Dell Technologies, GoDaddy, Salesforce, Webtrends, and SmartFOCUS. Douglas is also the author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies and co-author of The Better Business Book.


  1. Doug, thanks for adding some sanity to this tired, well-worn, archaic argument.

    Why does it take those of us with lesser “authority” to introduce common sense into the discussion.

    However, if there is a silver lining, it’s that maybe, once and for all, we can put this argument to rest, though the pessimist in me doubts it will unfortunately.

    Great post. I’m tweeting it to my 2800 followers! We’ll show the A-listers (can’t believe I just said that) who has authority! 🙂

  2. Thanks for joining the chorus of voices pointing out what a truly dumb idea this is.

    I see value in being able to filter a search by number of followers, but to call it authority is absurd.

    The folks advocating this system have astronomical follower counts (Loic, Scoble, Arrington, etc.). Why not call this feature what it really is: “Show Me Tweets by My Very Important Friends and People I Deem Worthy of My Attention.”

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