Back in January of 2012, a service account dubbed MVF garnered some buzz for helping Twitter users to identify their most valuable followers as determined by their ratio of followers to following. MVF racked up 50,000 users in its first week and attracted NBA players, rap stars, and the CTO of Amazon to engage in a little social media solipsism.

A fun side project has become a full business

The product was built by Alex Taub and Michael Schonfeld, two startup employees trying to have fun in their spare time. They didn't feel like maintaining the service, so after a few weeks, they shut it down. They left the landing page up with a note to former users and moved on to their next project.

"We figured it was a fun flash in the pan, but it seemed like every week an email or two would roll in from brands that wanted to use this thing as a real tool," says Taub. Eventually he became convinced it could work as a business, so the duo quit their jobs at payment startup Dwolla, raised some angel funding, and today will relaunch MVF as SocialRank.

"We're not trying to assign people some score showing how 'influential' they are."

SocialRank will measure the most valuable, most engaged, and overall best followers for a Twitter account. It plans to work with brands to help them reward the followers who notch these honors and eventually get into the business of what Taub calls "micro-endorsements."

At first glance the whole thing sounds a bit like Klout, which was recently acquired after floundering through a series of pivots. But Taub argues its the opposite. "We're not trying to assign people some score showing how 'influential' they are. We want to help people find and connect with the followers they may not know who could be really helpful at strengthening their message on social media."

The tool is free to try and kicks off with participation from some big-name brands like GoPro and Spotify. I found a few new notable followers I wasn't aware of, including a Spanish TV station, a mixed martial arts fighter, and a billionaire activist investor.