One of my favourite pastimes is busting social media marketing myths, and one of my favourite examples of “unicorns and rainbows” advice is “engage in the conversation.” Finally, I decided to use data to test the notion that “engaging in the conversation” on Twitter has a positive impact.
People follow you on Twitter because they like what you’re saying, and the more people who follow you, the larger your reach is. If you are a marketer, there is no point in perusing a Twitter strategy that includes getting as many followers as possible. Naturally, one of the most important measures of success on Twitter is follower count, and I compared that to the replies percentage–the percentage of your tweets that start with an @ sign–of a random selection of over 130,000 Twitter users.
What I found may surprise you. When you look at the average following of users over their reply percentage, you see that users at the extremes – those who reply rarely or constantly–have far more followers than those users in the middle of the graph – users for whom replies make up 30%-50% of their tweets.
More tellingly however is what you find when you look at the average reply percentage of folks with over 1 000 followers and compare it to the reply percentage of users with less than 1 000 followers. Users with lots of followers respond much less frequently. The effect is the same when you compare users with more than 1-million followers with those that have less.
I want to be careful about causation here, as users with many followers may respond less simply because they have too many mentions to reply to. But I think this data does start to question the knee-jerk “unicorns and rainbows” myth about “engaging in the conversation.” What do you think?