Your followers are ignoring you. That doesn’t mean you should stop putting your content out there. Let me explain…
My post yesterday was an entry into exploring the many different actions — some measurable and some not even visible — that people may take after viewing a Tweet. But with recent news that 200 million tweets are being sent every day — that’s 2,314 tweets per second — I realize I didn’t focus nearly enough on the far left column of the action map when I originally created the graphic in May 2010.
So I set out on a completely unscientific investigation to better illustrate what’s going on in that column – to explore how many tweets in a stream people actually see. Because seeing a tweet is (most likely) the first step in being influenced by them. And I had a hunch people aren’t seeing that much.
I asked a simple question via Twitter three times: What percentage of the tweets in your feed do you think you actually read? I think the results are pretty fascinating.
As you might expect, the percentage of tweets a person reads goes down in relation to the number of people they follow. What might surprise you was how dramatic the drop off is. (I know it surprised me… and I was expecting to see a lot of low numbers.) Essentially, you can expect that anyone who follows more than 250 people is less than 50% likely to see a tweet in their stream. When you cross the mark of following 600 or more, your less than 30% likely to see a given tweet.
Let’s take this a step farther by bringing in Edison Research’s data that the active use of Twitter in America currently stands at 8%. Those numbers have huge implications on the idea of Twitter, alone, as a path to influence… or traction… or even awareness! (Because doing a bit of educated extrapolation, you come to the conclusion that if every single person in America is following you (and you’re not even close), only 4% of all Americans are going to see your tweet.)
This sounds like a lot of doom and gloom. Surprisingly, I’m not so sure that’s the case. And I don’t think it means you should give up on the platform. Why? Search! (Yes, there is a lot of overlap between social and search strategy.)
Again, just because people may not immediately see something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put it out there.
Let’s pretend for a minute that you are a fashion brand with a Twitter presence and I follow you. That means that every once in a while, you’ll show up in my stream. Maybe it’s because you’re running a special on jeans. Or maybe it’s to tell me about some photography site you think I’d like (because your consumer data tells you that most people who like you also like that kind of photography). Chances are, I’m not going to see that communication in my stream. (As my experiment showed, it might not be seen or acted on the second or third time you Tweet either.)
It’s the equivalent of being ignored. But that’s okay, because when I need it, it’s now out there and ready for me to find it.
Social media channels are always on; the stream is always flowing. In the same way you publish a blog, create a product demo, or make any other content, you are creating content that can be either consumed at the moment of creation, or be found when a better moment — the moment when a consumer (follower or not) is looking for that specific content.
In that moment of consideration, searchers may be looking for emotionally based connections, or they may be looking for deals. I’d venture that it’s often both at the same time. (That’s the crux of word of mouth, after all – recommendations with emotional weight.)
There are many more ways to interpret this data, and many more implications to explore. I plan on trying to chase a few of those down in future posts. But I’m far more interested in hearing what you make of it. Does the likelihood that you’ll be ignored scare the bejesus out of you? Does it change your opinion on how many times to repeat tweets? Have you seen (or implemented) proven ways to increase views or tweets? Or better entice action?
So… what do you think?