Number of Twitter followers is the most overrated metric in social media

by Mack Collier

Seriously, it’s total bunk.  I know because I spend WAY too much time tracking my referral traffic from Twitter, and the people that send that traffic here via tweets and RTs.

Two examples of how # of followers can be deceptive:

1 – Several months ago a member of Twitter with 70K followers tweeted a link to one of my posts.  I got a grand total of 3 visitors from that tweet.  I checked, and the guy was following 80K people.  When you try to follow everyone, you usually end up following no one.

2 – Last year, @ShannonPaul RTed a link to one of my posts.  Shannon had around 10K followers at the time.  Her RT led to an additional 600 visitors to my blog that day.  After Shannon’s tweet, a ripple affect started, as people within her network started RTing her tweet, which led to more RTs in their networks.  But the chain reaction started because Shannon was well-connected to her network.  They trusted her and the content she linked to (like my post). So even though Shannon’s network was 14% the size of the guy with 70K followers, her network sent 600 referral visitors, while the guy with 70K followers only sent 3.

This is why I think there is WAY too much emphasis placed on number of Twitter followers that a person has.  Especially when attempting to determine that person’s level of influence.  From what I’ve seen, it’s far more important to see how closely connected a person is with their Twitter network.  If you have a Twitter network of 150 close friends, your effective reach is likely much larger than a person that has 10,000 strangers following her.  I know that when certain people, like Shannon or @BethHarte RT a link to my blog, that I am about to get a flood of traffic.  Because Shannon and Beth are both highly connected to the people they follow.  Roughly 66% of their tweets are replies, so they are constantly interacting with the people that follow them.  That leads to stronger bonds and connections.

So if # of followers doesn’t count, how do you define influence and authority?

Look, I’m not saying how many followers or subscribers or friends you have is totally worthless in determining how much influence a person has.  But it shouldn’t be the only metric you examine when trying to decide if someone has established trust and influence with their network.

For example, last year I worked with TMG to create and execute a blogger outreach strategy to promote a webinar that Citi was producing (Recap HERE).  In deciding which bloggers to reach out to, we looked at two key areas:

1 – Total readership of the blog.  This could include number of subscribers, or number of visitors.

2 – Level of interaction on the blog.  How many comments is the blogger getting, and is she replying to those comments?

We placed a far greater premium on the level of interaction, when deciding which bloggers to reach out to about being involved in the webinar.  Because we wanted bloggers that had actually connected with their readers.  I remember in one case we purposely did NOT contact a particular blogger that had almost 100K subscribers, because there was almost no interaction on their blog.  And in another case, we reached out to a blogger that had a far lower number of subscribers, but there was constant interaction on their blog.

The end result was that signups for the webinar exceeded TMG and Citi’s goal by 100%.

Really when you boil it down, level of interaction and how connected you are to your network almost always trumps the SIZE of that network, when it comes to determining influence via social media.  Over a year ago I had a well-known blogger ask me why my blog posts always got more comments than his (despite him having 10X the traffic of my blog).

I told him “Because I can tell you the first name of almost every person that comments on my blog, the name of THEIR blog, and what they do for a living. Oh, and I thank them. And they know I mean it.”

Numbers of followers/friends/readers matters, but in my opinion how connected you are to them is even more important in determining influence and reach.

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan VanDenabeele June 23, 2010 at 8:26 am

Great post Mack.

I totally agree. Engagement and community interaction is huge. Look at it from an advertisers point of view (I guess like you did with your client) and where would you spend your dollars? A community that is active is a community of highly passionate people about that particular subject matter.

Be human in your posts and ask for comments. You’ll be surprised by the response.

Cheers!
.-= Ryan VanDenabeele´s last blog ..Bear Wanders into Santorini Apartments, Fort MyersBear Wanders into Santorini Apartments, Fort Myers =-.

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 9:32 am

Yes Ryan, the problem is that many companies/advertisers don’t really understand how social media works, so they fall back on what they ‘get’ from traditional marketing, and that’s that biggest number wins. Unfortunately, the number of followers can be easily manipulated. All I have to do is go to Twellow and follow everyone that has ‘follow back’ in their profile. I could probably add 500-1,000 followers a day doing that.

Hopefully, companies will begin to appreciate the value of engagement and interaction when it comes to social media usage.

Reply

Srinivas Rao June 23, 2010 at 8:59 am

Mack,

One of my earliest mistakes with twitter was trying to get 1000′s of followers. Amazingly enough then I started BlogcastFM which only has about 240 followers and the interviews I do there get retweeted and share way more often than by the thousands of other followers on my twitter account. One way I overcame this issue is by creating lists of people I actually had connected with and only displaying those in tweetdeck. Solid advice from you as always. I used your email tactic of moving the subscribe above the fold and I had about a 200 subscriber increase. It also included a guest post on dumb little man, but that was only about 30 email newsletter signups. I think the rest had to do with the positioning of the subscribe buttons. Thanks for so much great value.
.-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..JD Roth on Keys To Publishing a Book, Guest Post Criteria for A-list Blogs, and Monetizing in a Way that Benefits Your Readers =-.

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 9:34 am

Hey Srinivas that’s awesome on the email subscriber increase! Did you do a blog on that as well, detailing how you got the jump? Would be good info that your readers would love to have, I am sure!

Reply

Srinivas Rao June 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Mack,

I’m actually working on a post called 5 Lessons from Mack Collier that have done wonders for my blog :). I’ll let you know when it goes up.
.-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..JD Roth on Keys To Publishing a Book, Guest Post Criteria for A-list Blogs, and Monetizing in a Way that Benefits Your Readers =-.

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Awesome Srinivas, thanks for the shoutout(s) ;)

Reply

An Bui June 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm
Judy Helfand June 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

Mack,
Thank you for this down-to-earth clarification. I know that you have 20,000+ followers and you follow 14,000+; on the other hand, I have 153 follower and I follow 83. I follow you, you don’t follow me…and that is ok, but it limits how you and I can communicate with each other.
I will say one of the most important things I have learned in the past few months about social media is the importance of interacting with your commenters. It isn’t rocket science, just common sense…but I only began to see the “magic” when I left a comment and the writer responded to me. Validation…
On a side note…as I was reading your post this morning, I kept thinking to myself that I would like my readers to be able to easily “share” my posts with their network. Then it dawned on me…and my 60 year old brain…I didn’t have a “share” button on my blog! Thanks for jogging my memory and thanks for all your work on #blogchat.

#DellCAP On-Line Passion Required

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 9:39 am

Hi Judy! I’m actually following you. I know you mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I wasn’t, and I checked and made sure I was at that time. I still am! If you’ve tried to DM me and it didn’t work, that might be a problem with Twitter, are you able to DM other people that are following you?

Reply

Judy Helfand June 23, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Hi Mack,
You are correct, you are following me. But when I try to send you a DM mackcollier does not appear in the drop down box. Now that I look a little closer only 30 of the people that follow me are in that drop down box, out of 153. Very strange…I will try to see if there is a pattern or an easy solution.
But anyway, I am glad to know you and enjoy all that you share.
Judy

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Hey Judy! If you are using the web version of Twitter, when you go to leave a Tweet, just type in d mackcollier, then the tweet, and it should work just fine!

Reply

Sharon Hayes June 27, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Only users you’ve had DMs with appear in the drop down menu. I’m not sure if this includes ones you’ve deleted (or they have). I don’t think so.
.-= Sharon Hayes´s last blog ..SharonHayes- Everyone thinks of changing the world- but no one thinks of changing himself Leo Tolstoy =-.

Reply

Mack Collier June 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

Ah, good tip Sharon, I wasn’t aware of that, but it does explain why not everyone is in the drop-down menu. I’ve had other people tell me the same thing!

Reply

Justin Lukasavige June 23, 2010 at 9:49 am

I had this exact conversation with a client yesterday. He was frustrated that someone with 140,000 followers re-tweeted his link and he only received 7 visits because of it.

Interaction and readership is key!

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 9:53 am

Right Justin, and then the client thinks that ‘Twitter doesn’t work’.

One thing you might check is put the user into Tweetstats.com. It will show what percentage of his tweets are replies to others. My guess is the number is fairly low, and you can use that to help illustrate the point to your client that interaction and engagement matters.

Reply

Karl Pearson-Cater June 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

Good post. Agree with your findings about relationships with followers. That’s huge. I think a few other elements are at play, too.

I got to this post from soupsoup.tumblr.com, not twitter. Tumblr is another fascinating network of followers (and followers of followers) to track referrers and reblogs. The interesting thing about Tumblr, is that if content of a certain genre that I post (let’s say a photo of graffiti art) gets reblogged by one or two of my followers who have art-themed tumblrs, my post gets reblogged a ton by their followers because the content fits their interests. In other words, my content can find a larger niche audience with one reblog. But it all hinges on the type of content I publish, even if only occasionally.

That is such a fascinating twist on publishing and distribution channels to me.
.-= Karl Pearson-Cater´s last blog ..bigboxcar: Oops… Print newspaper article: "Click here to compare them." http://bit.ly/cv2Vh7 =-.

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Good point Karl, and I agree, I find it fascinating to see how content moves through different networks, and the PACE at which it moves. Which is usually greatly influenced by the fit of that content to the interests of the network, as you said.

Reply

kelly (race_12_1) June 23, 2010 at 10:51 am

This is the exact reason I keep my list low. I did not join twitter to become popular or gain a large following. Keeping my purpose in mind has allowed me to keep my following to people I have a connection with for one reason or another. We are able to interact on a real basis and this is more important to me then whether that has a potential to send more people to my website. Twitter, and any social media should always be used to make connections, not for proving popularity.
.-= kelly (race_12_1)´s last blog ..Sharing Joy =-.

Reply

Marc Meyer June 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

Mack, I’m with you on this one. I’ve been on Twitter more than 3 years now and have a little over 4,000 followers. To me it’s never been about numbers if it was I would have close to 100,000. And if that were the case, I wouldn’t know a thing about them. I follow 800 but that’s by choice. I can’t follow much more. Though there is no clear cut “right” way to use Twitter- Using Twitter to amass thousands of followers so that one can push out a message is going to have the same impact of a banner ad.

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Marc I hear you and think your system of managing your network is a good one. I’ve changed mine a few times over the years, but now I follow back (almost) anyone that @s or RTs me. Because I want most of the activity I have on Twitter to be focused on interaction with my network.

And you’re correct, there’s no right or one-size-fits-all way of using Twitter.

Reply

Jon Thomas June 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

Mack,

I think this is the post that many people have been waiting for. I’ve seen a few similar, including one by an author (who’s name escapes me) about why he wanted to be taken OFF Twitter’s suggested user list because the inflow of followers wasn’t helping his traffic or levels of quality engagement.

That’s why all those “grow your followers” schemes make my blood boil. Marketing and Sales today is about creating quality content that people want to consume, and engaging with those consumers. I have a slowly growing list of preferred tweeters called my “Top 100″ which has yet to reach 100 but when I get there, I will stop (although I will add/replace). That is for those tweeters (is that the right word?) who offer me the most value. With my main feed, I merely dip my toes in it a few times each day, so your chances of being RT’d by me are slim simply by lack of exposure. But I RT people on my Top 100 list often, and will scroll down to read old tweets to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Their chances of having their content shared (by me at least) is substantially greater, and the reason they’re on that list is because they offer great content and engage. Of course, those on that list who actually engage with me personally are even more likely to be RT’d by me, but that’s the science of Twitter.

Great post! Hopefully more social media campaigns will be measured by engagement instead of false metrics like # of followers.

Jon Thomas
http://www.twitter.com/Story_Jon
.-= Jon Thomas´s last blog ..Cleaning Up Our Image: The New and Improved Post Advertising =-.

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Jon that is a great point about the suggested users. Seriously, would you REALLY want 100,000 strangers to suddenly be following you? Of course not, and you’d lose how many hours wading through profiles trying to decide who is worth following back, and who isn’t.

Reply

Sean Williams June 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Terrific post, Mack, a great antidote to the specious “research” being released in the space. The whole concept of influence *should* be based on actual, rather than potential, activity. But it’s true that the only frame many companies (and people) have is the mainstream media, marketing impressions -based view.

Hurrah!
Sean
.-= Sean Williams´s last blog ..More Wine from Ontario, and How =-.

Reply

Dorian Benkoil June 23, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I like to look at the RATIO –> the number of followers vs. the number followed. The higher, the better. Anyone of true influence should be at least a ratio of 5.

@dbenk

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Dorian, in general, I don’t like it when I see someone that has 10,000 followers, that follows back 100. But at the same time, I understand that we all use Twitter differently, and some people only want to follow people they know very well, or consider friends.

But of course the tradeoff is, if I followed another 26,000 people, I could probably get up to 40,000 followers. To many people, that would make me more ‘influential’ to them, because of the larger number of followers.

Of course if I asked those additional 20K followers to do something for me, or RT a link to my blog, how many would do so?

Reply

Dawn Westerberg June 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Hi Mack, I had a similar experience on my blog. I wrote a story about a very nice gesture from someone on the paid speaker circuit. The response to that particular post was enormous (taking me to a whole new scale on Analytics). Day one it was exciting. Day five, I was thinking “I want my blog back.” The story was a side bar, meant for *my* community of readers, not the fans of the speaker. I know this sounds very unappreciative…and that’s not my intent: even a lot of hits to you blog won’t matter unless they’re the people you *really* want to visit. I’d rather have twenty meaningful hits than two thousand one-time hits.
.-= Dawn Westerberg´s last blog ..Inbound Marketing is Here to Stay – So put down the stick and light some candles =-.

Reply

Sean Williams June 23, 2010 at 1:35 pm

@DBenk – why do you believe the ratio of followers/followed is relevant to influence? (Honest question from a part-time professor…)

Sean
@CommAMMO
.-= Sean Williams´s last blog ..More Wine from Ontario, and How =-.

Reply

Jonathan Saar June 23, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Great post Mr. Mack. I always learn a lot from you. This particular point is very dear to me. Interaction is so paramount. I am greatly concerned about how much commenting I do or do not have on any given post. I believe fully that the only reason I do actually have commenters on my blog is because I work hard to reach out to people everyday both inside and outside my industry. This post and your example validates my approach and I thank you for that.
.-= Jonathan Saar´s last blog ..Dear Property Management Company-Your Awesome Leasing Professional is a True Gem =-.

Reply

Mack Collier June 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Right Jonathan, and also attending events like #OptSum helps, cause we can actually have conversations with people we meet, then move those connections online.

BTW, getting pumped about coming back to Dallas in a couple of months, going to take some of the things I learned from #DellCAP and incorporate into the Rockstar workshop! Shooting for at least 50% new content from the one you attended in March.

Reply

Jonathan Saar June 23, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I will be there front and center!
.-= Jonathan Saar´s last blog ..Dear Property Management Company-Your Awesome Leasing Professional is a True Gem =-.

Reply

Davina K. Brewer June 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Mack, You are right.. good comments here. Think it’s about context. Even the ratio of following to followers is “right,” – if half of who you follow and who follows you are just feeds like @thisissethsblog, there’s really not much engagement there. Or if you only RT or have conversations with a select 50 people, does it matter if you have 500 or 5K followers? IDK.

I used to think I couldn’t keep up with big groups on both sides of the equation, but I’ve found I’m always open to following and being followed by good people. Would I like more followers, more blog readers? Of course, but I’d rather 10 really smart, engaged pros to RT and post with, than 10K who never add value and just “pretty” up my numbers. FWIW.
.-= Davina K. Brewer´s last blog ..Twitter Taboos and the Real You: What don’t you Tweet? =-.

Reply

Frederic Guitton June 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Mack,
Your comments are very accurate and also open the door to a broader conversation about the internet. I believe that the number of visitors to a site is somewhat like the number of followers in twitter. It does have some importance but it is not enough. It is about how great of a result you can derive from that traffic. The focus has to be on quality of posts, websites and creating great calls to action.
I would prefer a site 10,000UV and 2% conversion to prospects to 15,000 with 1%. It may sound like a very basic statement to make but many simply don’t look at the actual results closely enough to accurately allocate their marketing dollars
Frederic Guitton
http://www.activSalesAgent.com
“Managed live chat solution for the real estate industries”

Reply

Mack Collier June 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

I agree, Frederic. The number is only valuable IF it leads to the desired activity. For example, if you are trying to reach parents of homeschooled children, and TechMeme picks up a post you wrote about a product, it might give your site a nice bump in traffic, but will it be the right KIND of traffic?

As you say, lower overall numbers with a higher conversion rate is often the better outcome.

Reply

Jeremy Tanner June 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

My favorite trick to find the level of engagement of a twitter user’s followers is to add a ‘+’ to the end of bit.ly links they send out. This sends you to the link’s info page. Bit.ly exposes the click data for everyone’s links, so you can see what percentage of a user’s following is clicking through. Twitter is full of accounts with high numbers of followers and dismal click through rates.

Jeremy
.-= Jeremy Tanner´s last blog ..The Wisdom of Crowds =-.

Reply

Mack Collier June 29, 2010 at 11:57 am

This is a good trick from Jeremy, did everyone catch this? If someone shares a Bit.ly link, go and add a ‘+’ to the end of the URL of that link, and it will show you information on the clicks for that link. Try it!

Reply

DaveMurr June 23, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I was on the members of team Detroit taking part in Chevy’s SXSW Road Trip Rally. There were a total of eight teams participating in the competition and we were all assigned “stunts to document during our trip. Points were allocated based on number of RT, mentions, blog posts, likes, comments, etc.

As far as numbers were concerned, we were very much the underdogs. Our twitter followers combined (out of four team members) was just over 10k. There were members on other teams who had over 45k followers alone.

Despite this gap, we ended up victorious. We all had built solid relationships with the followers we did have (both online and off) and this translated into a snow ball effect of support when it came time for our community to step forward.

This project proved that it is all about quality, not quantity.
.-= DaveMurr´s last blog ..Instead of… =-.

Reply

Heather Villa June 24, 2010 at 4:12 am

Slowly I think more and more twitter users are realizing exactly what you’re saying here. It seems like I am always re-educating clients on how to use twitter effectively.

Twitter is not a form of advertising that you can set up one time and think you’re done and will start to see results in a week. Twitter in it’s most general context is for building relationships. And you can’t do that effectively when all you’re concerned about is the numbers.
.-= Heather Villa´s last blog ..These People Will Destroy Your Business =-.

Reply

slendergrl June 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Engagement is everything. You can’t shake someone’s hand and ‘play’ interested. It cannot be one-sided. So many young people on Twitter do just that. I love this post. I am a social butterfly and it is because I am genuinely interested in people and I love interaction!

Reply

Frank Battiston June 25, 2010 at 10:24 am

Great post. Quality of the content and the author’s engagement with his/her community is one of the primary reasons I regularly come to this blog and others like those of @LisaPetrilli, @ShannonPaul, etc.

Quality of followers should (in general) trump quantity, particularly if you want to monetize your efforts. Kevin Kelly’s amazing post from 2008 resonates as increasingly important these days whenever the quality vs. quantity discussion arises (“1,000 True Fans” @ http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/03/1000_true_fans.php).
.-= Frank Battiston´s last blog ..Pimp My Ride: an Xbox 360-equipped Taxi =-.

Reply

Lisa Petrilli June 25, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Frank,

I just wanted to let you know how much your comment means to me and to tell you that I particularly appreciated your tweet about how you are sharing my series of posts from this week with your team. To know that my experiences may is some way be of value to others is inspiring to me – so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

And to be included in company with Mack and Shannon is purely icing on an already delectable cake!

@LisaPetrilli
.-= Lisa Petrilli´s last blog ..The Introvert’s Guide to Getting Promoted: the Most Important Step =-.

Reply

Connie Reece June 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

You already know I’m in complete agreement with you. Influence cannot be measured solely by numbers — and that’s why I’m interested in watching what klout.com does. They show that out of my 6,793 (at this moment) followers, my true reach is about 4,000. They do that by filtering out inactive accounts, follow-bots, and other magic I don’t understand. :)

The most interesting stats Klout shows are the Network and Amplification scores. Amplification is the likelihood that your information will be acted upon and Network measures the influence level of your engaged audience. (BTW, I have no affiliation with Klout; I’m just interested in what they measure.)
.-= Connie Reece´s last blog ..Citizen Marketer 2.1: Are FourSquare and Gowalla Just Shiny Objects? =-.

Reply

Sarah June 25, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Of all the – probably hundreds of – articles about followers I’ve clicked through to, this is the very first one where I’ve actually learnt something. Thanks!

Reply

Mack Collier June 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

Thank you, Sarah!

Reply

Tomasz Banas June 27, 2010 at 10:59 pm

Mack, great article. I always wanted go test it myself and see how powerful are people with 50k followers.

Reply

Riyaz June 28, 2010 at 5:35 am

Mack, I totally agree. Following hundreds of people blindly ends up in too much of unwanted tweets in your timeline. and you might just miss out on the tweets from those who matter or make a difference.
.-= Riyaz´s last blog ..Socialize Your Blog with GetSocial WordPress Plugin =-.

Reply

Sherry Lowry July 8, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Tell ‘em!

This cannot be stated often enough.

I may be a bit slow, but it seems more important to me to actually sort of KNOW people I’m connecting or connected to via social media.

Like you advise, I let the “spammers” just die a natural death (I used to religiously go through on Twitter and delete all of them or rather – block them) after testing and realizing you’re right on. (pretty sure that is a regular occurrence!)

But…if I’m going to “follow back” I’m going to at least have SOME other related experience with that person. This is true for sure for me if I’m “friended” with someone on Facebook.

And it just makes professional, good sense to me to actually really KNOW everyone I’m linked directly with as a connection on LinkedIn. That’s been a policy that’s served me well fromthe day i joined there – which I believe was 2nd yr LI existed.

In fact, I’m finding some sort of standard to stand upon – or at least get a higer view FROM is serving me very well relating to most ALL the social-media-related apps I use. it certainly simplifies my online life also.

Speaking of that, I’m very aware my previous 200 emails a day (typically about 20% best served by responding) maybe now hovers around 50-70 a day since I fell in love with all the rest of these approaches.

Besides the fun and the new friendships, I like the practicalities.

As always, thanks for the relevant, cogent post.

Reply

Sherry Lowry July 8, 2010 at 7:16 pm

A curiosity question…what created the white area in your “socialgraph” image?

Reply

Melody July 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Amen! I completely agree that the number of followers, without a lot more information, is a meaningless metric. I am totally puzzled by people who have like 8000 followers and have been on twitter for like 1000 tweets or less. The only thing I will say is that I believe twitter is about forming relationships: I am equally puzzled by the kind of person who has 8000 followers and follows a few hundred – That person is always some sort of niche celebrity, but I have to wonder if you’re using twitter because you want CONNECT with people if you follow such a low percentage of people back.

@connie reece – I am interested in Klout too – It’s an interesting analysis, but it seems pretty volatile. The Edelman tweetinfluence meter seems a little more stable – I really have no idea which is more accurate.
.-= Melody´s last blog ..All About MyStarbucksVisitcom – What the customer needs to know- =-.

Reply

Lucretia Pruitt July 17, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Another dead-on-the-money post Mack.
Thanks for writing this so it’s easy to pass on to those who don’t understand why clicking ‘follow’ one time doesn’t necessarily equate to actually interacting with or trusting someone.

Love it.

Reply

Mat Morrison July 18, 2010 at 2:37 am

Probably worth pointing you in the direction of “Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy” (2010) by Meeyoung Cha, Hamed Haddadi et al. They find that:

We found that indegree represents a user’s popularity, but is not related to other im- portant notions of influence such as engaging audience, i.e., retweets and mentions. Retweets are driven by the content value of a tweet, while mentions are driven by the name value of the user. Such subtle differences lead to dissimilar groups of the top Twitter users; users who have high inde- gree do not necessarily spawn many retweets or mentions. This finding suggests that indegree alone reveals very little about the influence of a user.

Reply

Xavier July 18, 2010 at 4:02 am

I guess you guys have not heard of Tunk Rank? Influence is not measured by number of followers obviously, but by how many influential followers you have: http://www.tunkrank.com

Reply

Martijn Linssen July 18, 2010 at 4:29 am

With you 100% Mack. I did a comparison of my network with my then 10 times bigger company network http://www.martijnlinssen.com/2010/04/twitter-network-strength-calculated-for.html and it turned out my network was stronger!

Also, ReTweets are relative http://www.martijnlinssen.com/2010/07/retweet-relativity.html – about half of big-blog ReTweets are automatically generated

Reply

Ian M Rountree July 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Nail and head, Mack.

The return on an outreach – especially to a social media celebrity with little to no other notoriety – can’t be calculated based on fame alone. That said – numbers are worth paying attention to, because the average person still cares – to a certain extent – about numbers. How many people do we know of who are famous for being famous, as opposed to being famous for societal contribution?

Some people scale incredibly well. Others, not so much. The vast (and I mean 90% or more, I expect) majority of people are in the latter group. We need to relearn that we can’t all be social butterflies – not because it’s undesirable, but because it’s a diminishing return situation unless it’s your best method of connection.

Developing community doesn’t mean growing the community’s size alone.

See you on #blogchat :)

Reply

Rocky VanBrimmer July 18, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Mack,
This is a great post. For far too long it has been about “who follows who.” Totally agree that it is interaction and engagement.

Take care

Reply

Scott Gould July 19, 2010 at 6:42 am

Hi Mack

Thanks for this – I totally agree. It’s good to have some more people, examples and quotes to clip.

Scott

Reply

Ann Marie van den Hurk APR July 19, 2010 at 9:26 am

You are so right. Someone may have 30k, 70k, or 1 million followers but there is little to know connection. Social media is about forming relationships and sharing information.

Reply

Ian Jeanes July 19, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Hey Mack,

Such a perfect summary. I deal with Social Media sceptics all the time who don’t understand that this isn’t a numbers game. So much of advertising and media is based around throwing as many knives at a (researched) target in the hope one hits the mark (sorry Man on spinning wheel). However, someone who has an engagement with their followers, friends, etc, are most.likely to see their message validated (key word) and therefore spread. If you walk into a room and a man is shouting loads of nonsense without responding to loads of people, his message may as well fall on deaf ears. The media has changed but not the relevance – just your outreach can ne broader if world correctly.

Now I can quote your blog to SoMe sceptics.

Thanks

Reply

Alfred September 29, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I start to use a new twitter auto follow service on the net fastautofollow, found that is great, I need not to do any manual works, my twitter followers increased automatically everyday.It works real people I am following and who are following back, a 5 star product that I recommend to anyone!

Reply

@Aleperdido June 29, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Great Story! There are people twitting imbeciles things with millions of followers, I feel good be followed by opinion leaders such as Folha de São Paulo among others, I try change the way of History

Reply

Gina November 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm

In practice, we think that this can tfrnsaorm twitter from a communication to a publishing platform Person tweets were hiring with a link to the job post to his friends. To individuals who know him this is valuable but outside of his immediate network the info is useless. By using contextual search techniques and by going beyond the tweet, someone who is not directly related to them can know who is hiring, where they are located, what the job is, and how to apply, all from a two word tweet were hiring.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 10 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: