Digg Founder Unveils WeFollow Twitter Directory

Appeared in MediaPost, March 17, 2009, quoting Aaron Goldman:

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We Follow

Digg founder Kevin Rose has developed a Twitter directory to support real-time search to make sense of the mounds of data available through the network.

The tool, dubbed WeFollow.com, allows Twitter users to associate themselves with up to three tags that identify them as having expertise on a specific topic. Twitter will index the account under the appropriate category on WeFollow.com.

"WeFollow.com was really just a weekend side project and experiment for Kevin," said a spokeswoman for Digg.com. "He had the idea, worked on it for a few weekends, launched it a couple of days ago, and is keeping an eye on the progress to see what happens."

Rose, an investor in Twitter, remains focused on Digg, but does what he can to help Twitter, according to the spokeswoman.

In contrast to the search engine optimization (SEO) "nofollow" HTML tag that tells search engine crawlers not to follow the link, "WeFollow.com" urges searchers to follow by identifying them as an expert in a specific topic.

Twitter launched a search feature recently, but users suggest it lacks the ability to identify authors in specific topics. Many believe a directory can help weed out the garbage.

WeFollow.com can help marketers discover specific "influencers" through word-of-mouth marketing, said Forrester Research Senior Analyst Jeremiah Owyang, but the tool isn't a "very good way to judge authority" because it's only based on followers. "For example, I have 36 followers, and I can say I'm an expert on gardening or cooking, which I am not," he said.

For WeFollow to become successful, it needs to rely on historical reference data that identifies the person with specific topics mentioned in tweets, Owyang said. The directory also should identify retweets from previous posts. Retweeting confirms the post was valuable enough to pass on to others. It confirms authority, he said.

WeFollow isn't the only Twitter directory. TweeplePages.com, launched nearly three weeks ago by founder James Shiner, organizes tweeters by interest. Marketers can log in using their Twitter username and password to discover consumers with interests for specific products and services they offer. For example, marketers could search for people who like hockey or basketball and market sports gear or tickets to events.

For marketers, there are three ways to best leverage WeFollow, said Aaron Goldman, consultant at Resolution Media. Today, the tool enables marketers to identify key influencers in specific categories and reach out to them and list themselves in the appropriate category to promote products and services. "At some point it's likely WeFollow will create advertising opportunities or sponsored listings once it reaches critical mass," Goldman said.

As Twitter and social conversation search gain more prominence, the role of real people compared with machines will become increasingly important, according to Gyutae Park, Internet marketing specialist and blogger at Winning the Web. "By listing the most noteworthy people in different categories, a new type of Web directory is born-- a user-powered social directory."


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