Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Twitter: Followers versus Impressions. Standing vs Reach.

I had an interesting twitter discussion with The Masquerade Crew on twitter this morning (@MasqCrew).

It cantered around the use of twitter, and it boiled down to 'Is more followers always better?' and I have to say the  answer is unequivocally no.

Some users follow thousands, or tens of thousands of other users. If you tweet that becomes just one message among a huge list, and given that twitter shows only the most recent tweets on login then unless you have directed it to them personally it won't get seen. That sort of follower has a very low impression per follower %.

Conversely if a user follows say 20 people at the bottom end i.e. someone active but with a limited twitter sphere then they'll almost certainly have your message in their feed. This means that the % impression per follower is much higher.

We also noted that some users RT, mention and favourite far more readily. You guys are worth your weight in gold. If I have, as a purely theoretical example, 10,000 followers. Ten retweet me. Not all those RTs are equal. Some users have more followers than others (obvious I know) but of those there is likely to be a shared following. Those guys are a 2nd impression on the same person, which may or may not be a good strategy. Others will have followers with busy feeds that just won't see the RT.

E.g. the tweetreach for MasqCrew, http://tweetreach.com/reach?q=@MasqCrew shows that  they reached 64,058 accounts with 96,474 impressions.

Of these 28,772 came from one tweet by @Waldeez1, another 11k from @rsguthrie, 9k from us (@90daysnovel) and 6k from @zanebradey to mention a few of their biggest impression generators.

In total 90,000 of their 96, 474 impressions were generated by just 18 users, and the bulk of it from just 5. These followers are the facilitators that let them get their message across. I'd settle for a few hundred Waldeezs over ten thousand 'barely log in' twitter followers any day.

We also noted that the ability to interact reduces as we follow more. A few hundred follows can all be interacted with a little. A few thousand cannot. It's a pie - and the smaller the slice the less of a relationship you build with your following / the more time it takes to maintain the same level of involvement. I said it before, and I'll say it again - twitter is about relationships not content dissemination. You aren't broadcasting an ad, but building a fan base (and becoming part of others fan bases). When we forget that, and follow too many, people start to unfollow.



  1. That made a lot of sense and I really enjoyed reading it. I guess becoming obsessed with our number of Twitter followers is a common ailment. However I am intrigued as to how you have over 50k followers but only follow a fraction of that number.

  2. Hi Guy,
    We used a number of techniques when we launched.

    First - we put out paid adverts to our twitter profile.

    Secondly, we had an extensive email list that got a launch email and a request to pass it on.

    Thirdly, we used Twitter Reach to pick out users we wanted to follow. We used our 1000/ day to follow users who were proven retweeters.

    Fourth, we use a high proportion of hastags - this reaches beyond just authors as anyone can be browsing #reading or #book

    Fifth - we sent out DMs, personalised, to a huge proportion that followed us asking them to RT/ mention us.

    Sixth - we commented on a number of blogs by authors, book clubs etc linking back to our profile

    Seventh- we used QR codes linking to the twitter feed in print publications advertising the challenge. A business card with a QR code still gets some curiousity value.

    Eighth - we sent out press releases locally advertising the challenge. We're not breaking news in any real sense, but our local papers love the local boys made good angle and few picked up on it. We'll be sending further releases out nationally as we progress, especially if we get a good sales conversion rate, or good reviews.

    We also used pre-existing social meida connections from our own personal and professional networks to drive people to us. Having two of us to spread the word meant we reached a larger demographic. I'm not sure which techniques helped the most, or if sheer luck was the predominant factor, but we tried to give ourselves every chance possible to be seen and heard.

    1. Thank you for the taking the time to give such a detailed response. You've obviously been really pro-active. I look forward to reading your 90 Day Novel.

  3. As a post script, I will note that per twitter reach the quality of our followers on a per follower basis isn't as high as the organically grown followers that our research subject @MasqCrew has - we have seen a fair few unfollow as well as follow. I think that part of our strategy was, in hindsight, a bit too scattergun and although it piqued interest initially not all of those individuals actually want to hear about our novel writing progress. We'll be ramping up our attempts towards day 90 - as I think we can hold the average joe user's interest for a little while and I'm hoping that we'll get a % conversion to actually downloading the finished book.
    This will probably be in the form of a giveaway budget allowing.

  4. "I said it before, and I'll say it again - twitter is about relationships not content dissemination."

    This is probably the one statement that I disagree with. I think there is room for both. There's need for caution, though.

    Being concerned with relationships is important, but sometimes sending out a message to tons of people is worth something too. That's what TV commercials are all about. Those aren't about relationships, simply sending out a message.

    Some may unfollow if they don't get the attention they desire. That's okay. I've had some unfollow, then follow later when they see something that strikes their fancy. I'll follow them each time. (Until the day comes when I'm famous and don't need to follow back, which is another thing all together. Ha!)