Is Twitter really working for you? 10 questions

Have you ever thought about who sees your tweets?  I often do. I was reading an article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine titled, “I Tweet, Therefore I am” in which the author Peggy Orenstein ruminates

How much, was I shaping my Twitter feed, and how much was Twitter shaping me?

She goes on to say that “The expansion of our digital universe has shifted not only how we spend our time but also how we construct identity”. She’s right you know. We tweet for others. Or do you tweet just to tweet? No, you tweet so that you can be heard by others…To have conversations, to network, to create business opportunities. But do you want to know something that might make this a losing proposition?

 The others that we tweet for, really consists of about 1% of the total number of people following you at any given time. In other words, if you have 126 people following you (which is the average) chances are when you tweet something, 12 of them are reading it or might read it. Let’s knock that number down further and say of those 12, 2 may respond.

Depending on what you say and when you say it, the audience that you are playing to, really consists of a minute few at any given time. Which means depending on your professional background for instance, what you tweet may truly be shaped by that small group of people that a) decided to follow you in the first place and b) actually decided to respond or aknowledge your tweet.

Consider this: According to Harvard Business Review study from last year  the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets which implies that the pattern of contributions on Twitter is more concentrated among the few top users which further implies that Twitter resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.

So if you have 126 followers,

  1. Who is really deciding what you tweet? 
  2. Are you being heard?
  3. If so, by how many at any given time?
  4. What is the net result of your tweeting?
  5. Does this mean that although we talk about Twitter being about quality, it is truly driven by quantity to be effective?
  6. Do we need to define or redefine what being “effective” on Twitter really means?
  7. What do your tweets consist of?
  8. What are you hoping to get out of what you tweet?
  9. If your 126 followers are for business purposes, is your Twitter strategy really that effective with such a small number?
  10. Since joining Twitter what have you gotten out of it?

It might be time to step back and evaluate what you are doing on Twitter.

5 thoughts on “Is Twitter really working for you? 10 questions

  1. Marc, very thought-provoking blog post and questions that I sometimes ask myself and certainly get asked the same by my colleagues. In terms of impact of Twitter, I think it would be interesting to follow the “life of a tweet.” Using your example above, what if 1 of those 2 individuals re-tweeted your tweet to their followers? And ditto for that person’s followers? We also have another lifeline from that original tweet about the impact of individuals who see your tweet, do nothing at that moment, but have increased awareness of you as a news curator or knowledgeable source. In that case, some percentage may be inclined to keep up and engage with you in subsequent tweets.

    Putting performance metrics aside, I gain tremendous value in having all of my “online media experts” grouped together in Tweetdeck, so that I can see what the crowd as a whole considers worthwhile and timely to read. In turn, I hope that the tweets I contribute in someone else’s tweet stream adds value in the way that others have done for me.

  2. I hardly use Twitter much since it hardly does have any marketing impact for me. I think I should focus on more people who are of my own niche

  3. Thought this article would answer the question, or at least have tools and criteria to decide, bit it didn’t. One thing to help number of reads though, is to syndicate your tweets. Our Industrial maintenance and engineering tips and job tweets (@IndTraining) are automatically displayed in our LinkedIn pages, FaceBook pages, Ning networks, etc.

    So we increase the actual number of readers (or percentage of readers) a little.

  4. @Brian Great point, If I looked at twitter strictly as a performance based metric activity myself and a whole lot of other people would be sorely dissapointed. The value of our peer groups and what they provide us on a day to day basis is what matters-but the key is look at how long it took to get to that level? But then look at the intrinsic value of it all once we got there..

  5. You are so missing the point of Twitter.. You are correct in what you say re the number of people that will automatically get your tweet… However what you have failed to mention is that all tweets bar private messages end up in the Twitter search..

    Now Twitter search is thew gold mine of Twitter.. It allows you to search on real people, talking about real stuff, right now and in real time..

    So what does that mean.. It means that you can no search on what people are saying about you, your product, your service, your competitors, and then start a conversation with them…

    So yes… having no stratgey on why you are on here in the first place, and then not measuring any metrics of success, you may well be wasting a lot of time and valuable resource..

    As you learn how to be interesting, interested in others, committed, and have a consistant approach, and then where to go to be as effective with your time as possible, then over time you will truly discover the magic of Twitter…



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