What is QT?

QT captures a Twitter user's ability to compose messages that engages its audience. The higher your QT, the more likely that any of your followers will find your message of sufficient interest to retweet it to their followers. QT is independent of the follower number, allowing us to meaningfully compare engagement for accounts of widely different popularity.


In a recent Science paper, we showed that a scientist's ability to turn her ideas into impactful discoveries is captured by a single number, the Q-factor. The concept is described in Chapter 10 of The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success. The Q-factor, different for each researcher, is the best predictor of long-term scientific success, from citations to the chance of winning a Nobel Prize.

How can I measure my QT?

The qfactor.app allows anyone to check any Twitter user's QT by typing in a Twitter handle.

The Formula
What are the some interesting accounts?

The highest detected QT is for the Korean boyband BTS bts_twt. It's QT=1630, captures the band's exceptional ability to engage with their fan base: each of their tweets has about 500k retweets. Other Twitter accounts with high QT include:

We also find many examples of very low QT scores yet high follower counts: For the Q-factor of some better known Twitter accounts, click to explore samples of celebrities and politicians.

Why do I have to login to Twitter and give permissions to your app?

We are using Twitter's REST API to extract data on your behalf. Therfore, we need your permission to connect to Twitter to request and analyze the most recent tweets for the accounts you are curious about. We do not collect data specific to your account, but only request publicly available information on the accounts whose handle you type into the search bar.

Credits and Contact

QT was developed by Onur Varol (onurvarol) and Albert-László Barabási (barabasi) in the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. The research paper describing will be released soon. Alice Grishchenko designed the website and the visual elements of the project.

Properties of QT

By analyzing millions of Twitter careers, we find that each Twitter user has a unique QT-factor, that measures her ability to turn her insights into messages that engage her followers. QT has several key properties:

Why use QT?

We often see, particularly in the case of celebrities and major brands, that they amass exceptional follower numbers, the messages they put out do not resonate with their followers. If you want to evaluate the influence of a Twitter user, it is not enough to inspect the follower count, one also needs to look at engagement.

Is QT simply a retweet number?

It is not. We find that the more followers an account has, the less engagement it generates per followers. In other words, followers of smaller accounts are more likely to engage them those of larger accounts. Hence retweet number alone is not a meaningful way to measure influence. The Q-factor is designed to correct for these saturation effects.

Compare, for example four accounts, with approximately same Q-factor (QT≈26): the singer bjork, President Donald Trump (realDonaldTrump), selenagomez, and the PI of this research barabasi. These accounts differ widely in follower numbers:

The average number of retweets for each of these accounts is therefore widely different: Yet, relative to their audience, the four accounts generate a comparable level of engagement. While realDonaldTrump's messages are retweeted on average 26,000 times, this is a relatively modest number given its exceptional number of followers. A naive calculation would suggest that to get the same engagement as barabasi, his average retweet should be around 70,000. Yet to measure engagement correctly, the QT corrects for the saturation effect.

What is the difference between QT and other Twitter influence measures, like Klout scores?

The Klout score, which was recently discontinued, captures a user's "influence" on Twitter. It depends on the number of followers a user has (its audience), and who these followers are. Yet, influence on Twitter has two different roots: visibility (follower number), and communication talent (the individual's ability to engage with his followers). Let us offer some examples: