What 8,400 Twitter Followers Means

A couple months ago, when I was a 250-follower Twitter user, I used to look upon those in the high thousands as celebrities. Based on the tweets I get tagged in, calling me famous now that I’m among those with a few thousand followers, it seems like that myth is rather prevalent.

The short version of what I wanted to say is this: having thousands of followers doesn’t necessarily mean anything, and yet it can mean everything.

At first glance, that might seem rather paradoxical. But it isn’t. What matters is not so much quantity as quality and engagement. There are a few users (I won’t name names) who have millions of followers, and yet the engagement on their posts is miniscule. On the other hand, there are some users with only a thousand followers who get dozens of favorites and retweets (which, unfortunately, is the only third-party way to measure engagement).

Having 8,400 followers means that I can virtually guarantee a tweet will be exposed to at least a thousand other people, given about a twelve-hour period; to be honest, I don’t usually post more often than that. At first glance, a thousand might seem like a lot, but it isn’t always.

Out of those thousand exposures, about half of them—five hundred—will occur before a tweet becomes ‘stale’ (too old for most users to want to interact with). And out of those five hundred, a ten percent interaction rate is being generous, except for a media/photo/video tweet. Already, the 8,400 followers is whittled down to fifty people in a best-case scenario. Out of those fifty, the minority of interactions will be retweets (even on the most shareable tweets). My recent average is somewhere around five.

Five retweets and twelve favorites would probably be the average right now, but for those of us trying to use Twitter for marketing (as just about every author should be) that doesn’t matter as much as link engagement. The few links I’ve tested haven’t done spectacularly; in fact, they’re just about at the bottom of the engagement heap.

Which leads me to bad news for anyone asking me for a Twitter promo: you would likely only see about ten new visitors. Of those, I’m not sure how many will engage with your content, and how many simply click to see why I’ve bothered them with a new link. That’s why 8,400 followers can mean nothing. Twitter users visit the site when they’re in a mood for social interaction, or when they have something on their mind; tweet-based advertising rarely catches them in the buying cycle.

The question, then, becomes how to use Twitter for marketing if tweeting out links is a dud. How do you leverage 8,400 followers into some kind of value? The best solution, and one that I’ve seen work well for authors, is to make a link to your latest book as visible as possible. Pin a tweet with the link, post content that will be more engaging, and don’t actively advertise.

This strategy has certainly worked for my blog. I use the website link in my Twitter bio to bring people here, and even when I haven’t posted for a while I get new visitors every day. By the numbers: in April, the month before I started leveraging Twitter, my blog received 32 visitors. In May, that leapt to 178 (a 556 percent increase). The increase in June is shaping up to be about double May’s numbers. In other words, allowing people to seek me out instead of trying to force them onto my blog has worked wonders.

So, what does 8,400 followers mean? It means a certain number of people will see your content, but unless that content is worth engaging with it doesn’t mean much else. Keep the blatant advertising to a minimum, engage with everyone you can, and let them seek you out in turn.

And above all, please remember that the people on Twitter are people. Posting a link fifty times doesn’t make them any more likely to click it, or any more likely to appreciate you (in fact, just the opposite). I hope you liked this post. If so, please comment, share, like, or send me a quick tweet (@vtothetom). Take care!

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