Tweetmeme re-launches to gun for top of the Twitter link tree

The new version of Tweetmeme, effectively the Techmeme-like aggregator for links Tweeted on Twitter, has just gone live today. Sites like this recently started appearing to help people track what is linked to most on Twitter, which is where the real value lies, not in conversations about someone’s lunch.

But so far the results have been mixed. TwitLinks has not solved the the problem and Quotably dead-pooled.

Twitturly looked promising and works in the same way as the others. It aggregates URLs linked in Twitter messages and puts them on the home page based on overall popularity, calculated simply by determining the number of times the URL was in a Twitter message – effectively re-tweets. The more people who link to an item the higher it appears. As time passes the story loses currency and drops in the rankings.

This is also the way Tweetmeme works but a direct comparison of them today shows Tweetmeme is performing better, and is innovating faster.

On today’s TechCrunch story “Who the Hell Is Enrolling in Journalism School Right Now?” Tweetmeme lists this story as being re-tweeted 241 times (at the time of writing). But Twitturly ranks it with only 102 mentions on Twitter. MicroPlaza – another new entrant to the game – lists it as being re-tweeted 257 times. Given that the post has over 200 comments on it alone, it feels like Tweetmeme and MicroPlaza are on the right track. Twitturly’s best feature, the ability to see the Top 100 URLs the people that you follow have tweeted, also appears to be broken, at least for me.

[Twitturly versus Tweetmeme versus Microplaza]

What is clear is that out of these sites Tweetmeme is really gunning for the top prize in these stakes. Out of all these kinds of sites it is actually categorising Tweeted links into defined channels, which makes it much more useful. And it’s adding something smart – launching a bunch of Twitter accounts for these channels, such as Technology.

Also, coming down the pipe next week will be the ability to watch a live stream of news similar to the new FriendFeed, and it’s already launched other services including an API for other services to build upon, widgets, buttons and a mobile version. Certainly I think it’s button distribution (as in Add This to Tweetmeme) has helped its explosive growth – see graph above.

Unlike other services, since many of the URL’s mentioned on Twitter are shortened, Tweetmeme unshortens them to find the original story link and category of content (e.g. video, blog, image). For most developers this is too much of a burden (and Twitter wouldn’t bother) so the fact that Tweetmeme has exposed that data via an API is another point to them.

Tweetmeme even has a business model – unlike the platform from which it’s derived. Its revenue model is based on sponsors simply paying to have their latest tweeted story listed on Tweetmeme. That story is also pushed into the site’s river of news out onto Tweetmeme’s Twitter and RSS feeds. It’s up to ordinary users to re-tweet it or not of course.