Another way to look at Twitter Followers

There’s always been a lot of fluff behind the number of Twitter Followers a profile has. If you’ve been on there for a day, you know how it goes: If you have 20, you aren’t that popular, if you have 1000, you’re at least more popular than most of the people you know, and if you have 30,000 you can think of yourself as a minor superstar.

As a personal feel-good, that’s fine, but as a metric of success it’s shoddy. Businesses tend to measure the success or failure of their Twitter accounts by things like follow counts because they can’t accurately measure how it has increased their conversion rate. This has never been easy to see, since social media generally catches people when they aren’t ready to buy something – they’re there to play. It’s like advertising to people at the park: If they see the ad they may buy the product later, if they think of it, but for now they’re just there to walk the dog or push the kids on swings.

It’s hard to know how many people read tweets, then follow through and buy something. But a follow count is easy to measure. If that jumps up fast, your company and product must be popular, and this must be working, right?

Maybe not – maybe a sharp increase in followers is really a sign that everything else you’re doing, you’re doing right. Look at the stats for Old Spice’s Twitter account, via TwitterCounter.com:

Stats for OldSpice on Twitter

Boy THEY sure got popular in a hurry, didn’t they? They must have really done a lot of following of other people, and posting #FollowFriday shout outs, even paid some company to put their profile on ads saying, “you should follow OldSpice,” right?

That, or they made a TV Commercial that no one can stop talking about.

OldSpice’s twitter follows show the success they’re having elsewhere. It also gives them another venue to catch people who are interested in them because of the commercial. Maybe someone who’s entertained by the commercial doesn’t instantly go out and buy Old Spice. So interested people follow them on Twitter, where they continue to receive messaging from the campaign, and eventually, maybe, give their product a try.

In this case, Twitter isn’t the first or the last stop in the conversion funnel – it just keeps people in it.

So if you want Twitter to work for you, the moral here is to have a larger campaign that kicks off the interest. Unless what you’re posting is so miraculously brilliant you bring in followers who’ve never heard of you before, Twitter is best used in conjunction with a larger campaign.

It’s why social media IS NOT more important than media buys. Television, print, radio, etc. have the widest audience, and are the best means for getting people moving towards your product.

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