Analysing your reach

Yesterday, I had a bunch of new followers on Twitter.  Like I normally do, I checked them out before following them back.  Typically, this involves checking the profile for something interesting , checking out a few recent tweets for context, and taking a look at who this person is following and if we both follow the same people.  Knowing who I follow makes a connection obvious.

Some of them made a whole lot of sense but there was an obviously new user with limited numbers at this time from somewhere in Texas.  Now, it’s not that I don’t have friends and Twitter friends from there.  Maybe @paulrwood is the connector.  Not immediately obvious.  In fact, there was nothing that appeared to connect this person to me.  Now, this person was an educator so we became friends but I also became curious.  How were we connected?

I pulled up a tool just made for this sort of thing.  Mentionmap draws a graphic organizer showing the recent connections that have been made in your network.  Connections, for this purpose, are defined as people you’ve mentioned or hashtags that you’ve used.  So, I decided to start with me and see where this would take me.  Sure enough, there were some of my friends and I could vaguely remember the conversation.  There were also a couple of hashtags that I’ve used recently – @followfriday and @windsordi.  But, nothing leaps out.  Sigh.



But, maybe the connection wasn’t directly through me.  Maybe it was through a friend of mine.  So, I decided to expand this a bit.  I see that my friend @peterskillen and I are connected in this so I click on him to see his recent connections.  Now, this map is getting interesting – and really demonstrative of the connections that exist.


It’s not surprising that his connections include folks that I don’t follow and therein lies the power and the richness of the networking. 

But, this appears to be getting very messy.  After all, both of us have spent quite a bit of time and energy building our learning networks.  I keep having to remind myself to remain focused.  This really is getting interesting as I start to explore.

So, back to the original task.  Maybe I’m going about this incorrectly.  Maybe I’m going about this all wrong.  Maybe I shouldn’t start with me; maybe I should start with the new user and work my way backwards.  This turns out to be the key.  It was easy to start there since the newness has resulted in fewer connections.

Without getting into details, and respecting privacy this was key.  It wasn’t long before I determined the connection.  It was a case of a friend of a friend where I had made a comment.

But, what a powerful way to visualize your network and your connections.  If you have time to kill, visit the site and start to explore your connections and get a sense of just what your reach is.

links for 2010-09-20