What 100K Twitter Followers Gets You

#BlogPotomac Keynotes @kanter and @shelisrael at the White House

Everyone always seems fascinated with Twitter follower counts. Friend Beth Kanter was recently added to the official Twitter recommended list, which in turn added more than 100,000 new followers to her account. We decided to see what kind of impact the new following brought with it.

We did this by retweeting a link to the above photo featuring her and fellow BlogPotomac Keynote Shel Israel. Before Beth’s tweet, the photo had approximately 140 views. After she tweeted it, the photo garnered another 260 views, ten of which you could assume came from prior tweets and links.

So unofficially, Beth’s then 120,000 followers produced a click through rate of 0.2 percent. Now on my feed of 7,500 followers a popular photo like the above if it’s not retweeted (as this one was when I dropped it) usually gets about 50 click throughs, or approximately 0.7 percent. In this case if you include RTs, I accounted for roughly 150 views or 2 percent (sounds like email click throughs).

So the lessons learned? Generally speaking, with more casual followers you lose engagement and influence power.

While the actual number of click throughs increased with numbers. if the following isn’t organically or naturally cultivated then people care much less about your tweets, and are not as likely to click through. Influence wanes without relationships. Social media is still relational. It’s better to cultivate a rabid community than a massive following.

I’ve seen this same phenomena on large client Twitter accounts as well as heard it from other folks with 100k Twitter followings. Bigger is not necessarily better.

P.S. See Beth’s post on how she came to be listed, and the impact it’s had on her.

83 thoughts on “What 100K Twitter Followers Gets You

  1. Pingback: fastspottracey (Tracey Halvorsen)

  2. This is a great example to refute those who claim Twitter is just a numbers game. Nice to see some facts to back up what I’ve long maintained, namely, “Influence wanes without relationships.”

  3. Pingback: ChrisCree (Chris Cree)

  4. That’s certainly been my experience as well, Geoff. Just because someone is “following” you doesn’t mean they are following you. It’s imperative that companies remember that numbers are only meaningful to the extent that they represent human beings. Too many businesses (and rank-craving individuals) think that if they can just get bigger numbers, all will be well.

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  6. Good post Geoff. It would be interesting to follow the unfollow stats too. Since people blindly click and follow people on the “suggested users” list I suspect the rate of unfollows is much higher then if you built your list on pure engagement which of course Beth is super at.

  7. Hi Geoff:

    I think you’re right here.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how there are different types of influence — reach and affinity.

    Reach=numbers
    Affinity=relationships

    I agree with you that can’t get results in social media without affinity.

    There’s a difference between building a following on Twitter quickly through being on the suggested list or other tactics and one person at a time.

    You might want to link to the post I wrote about being added to the Twitter Suggested List about the impacts that I was tracking.
    http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2009/10/should-twitter-add-more-charities-and-nonprofits-to-suggested-users-list.html

    Now, should I retweet this post and should we track it?

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  11. Falling in line with the 90/9/1 ratio of community engagement (where 90% of all users will lurk, 9% will participate somewhat and 1% will actively participate)… bigger IS better.

    Geoff is correct in that an uber-tweeter will lose some of the ability to have meaningful relationships. Perhaps that is only in the loss of time and forced shortening of statements due to all the additional @replies and fresh comments they will now be responding to.

    Will the new list features help these uber-Tweeters regain their relationships?

    See my full response on my OpenAmplify blog: http://community.openamplify.com/blogs/ampthis/archive/2009/11/03/what-100k-twitter-followers-gets-you-dave-s-take.aspx

  12. I analyzed this problem a few months ago. I ened up with a higher conversion rate, but I have much less followers and definitely not casul and more engaging. Take a look, comments appreciated:

    How To Boost The Conversion Rate On Twitter http://bit.ly/vovAO

  13. I don’t know, Dave. I kind of see that ratio dwindling based on these results.

    You can’t just assume lurkers care. I think we overvalue the amount of Twitter followers. There are so many passive accounts, dead or folks that don’t check regularly and read every single Tweet that assuming there’s a lurker is probably incorrect.

  14. Pingback: Marc_Meyer (Marc Meyer)

  15. I think real relationships will dwindle, but for pure marketing oomph, bigger numbers = wider reach. The stats hold up, whether it is an online community or a Twitter user’s following.

    Of course, only time and experience will tell in Beth’s case… guess we will just have to get timely updates :)

    Many more people in Beth’s new following will fall under the 90% unengaged label, but there will also be far more people who are the 9% slightly engaged and 1% actively engaged.

  16. I think you are still mistaken, Dave. The cost of capture does not outweigh the reach and actual click through. A marketer would be better invested in approaching an email list or a different tactic all together.

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  18. I think each is a tool in one’s shed to be used at different times in different ways. I don’t think we are really disagreeing, just coming at in from different points of view.

    Now that Beth has a bigger following, she is seeing a drop in engagement ratio via the stats you produced. However, her clicks, RT and replies have all gone up… thus producing a greater level of engagement overall.

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  25. Yes, but the # of followers vs. click through ratio don’t justify an aggressive strategy to try and build a massive following. In Beth’s case it was happenstance. I would not be intentional about it though… Big waste of time and money.

  26. Agreed — massive build up for build up sake is a waste of time and money.

    Growth by other means is great and the ratios for engagement will follow those above no matter how big.

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  28. I don’t envy her the spam she must be getting right now but I have to add that of the recommended follows on Twitter Beth is one of the truly worthy follows!

    This whole MLM idea of the more connections you have the better is just bull and you demonstrated that nicely. Thanks.

  29. Pingback: wordymouth.com » Blog Archive » Influence Fades Without Relationships

  30. Oh, forgot to add my initial metaphor for building a fast following – it’s like eating empty calories.

    Jane. There hasn’t been much @spam – and if I get I block it and report them. What’s worse is the unsolicited emails from PR people asking for retweets of content that I don’t write or have an interest in.

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