Number Of Twitter Followers Is The Most Overrated Metric In Social Media

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?

Read the rest of the post on Mack Collier’s site.

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