This post, by Mack Collier, originally appeared on his site on 6/23/10.
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?