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At TwitterCon PubCon last week, there was a lot of talk about everyone’s favorite micro-blogging service, Twitter . It’s a high-impact, high-volume platform that every Internet marketer should be using. However, the dependency on just how we are using, and more importantly, how we are measuring this information to our clients, is a grey area that people seem reluctant to address.

There are two obvious metrics that immediately jump out when reporting for our clients:

  • Number of people you’re following
  • Number of people who are following you

However, at the very core of Twitter is an interesting question: “What are you doing?” The question is in the present tense, not the past or future. To describe what you’re doing is opening yourself up to the outside world. You’re giving someone a glimpse into your life which they wouldn’t otherwise have. As a company, you’re inviting consumers to know you better.

A lot of analysts would state that the details can be found in the numbers. I wouldn’t argue with them, except to say that to get accurate data from the numbers, we have to be measuring the right metrics. If you’re including the number of people you’re following and number of people who are following you as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for your Twitter services, you’re giving your client ineffective data.

As most people reading this already know, it’s not hard to develop a massive following on Twitter. How many times have we read articles such as “Increase Your Twitter Following by Thousands” or “10 Steps to Get More Twitter Followers?” It’s a deceptive metric. Your reach is greater with more followers, but what are those followers actually doing with your message? Instead of talking at your followers, you should be talking with them. Dave Snyder of Search & Social , recently defined Retweets as a core reporting metric for Twitter. Retweets show that you not only have active listeners, it shows that your listeners are also engaging with your content — a core element to good marketing.

Developing a Twitter following which contains active listeners is no different from developing relationships in the real world — it takes time, trust, and two-way communication. An active listener on Twitter can be defined by the following:

  • A user who replies
  • A user who re-tweets

With the year-over-year growth of Twitter being 1,382% (and becoming increasingly mainstream,) it’s important that you or your client’s online presence doesn’t get lost in the noise. Tweeting useful, high-value, thought-provoking, groundbreaking tweets (and having them retweeted) will help distinguish you from the rest. Using retweets and replies as a core reporting metric for clients shows value for their money, because it represents relationship building — a commodity too often overlooked in our online instant gratification world.

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5 Responses to “Why Twitter is Not About the Numbers”

  1. Jeremy Rivera

    “Developing a Twitter following which contains active listeners is no different from developing relationships in the real world — it takes time, trust, and two-way communication.”

    Excellent point- I think that’s really key- not just how many people re-tweet you- it’s how much you can interact and leverage your new tweeple

  2. Twitter is a communications medium just like the rest of the Internet and works because people like to know what’s going on in other people’s lives that they’re interested in. Don’t forget, people are nosy and want to know the “gossip” of your life.

    This is why talk shows such as Oprah and Dr. Phil are so popular. It get’s people out of their own lives into everybody else’s. Just communicate with people and make sure you are a real person.

    Don’t be afraid NOT to promote your business. In fact, there’s no better way to use Twitter than that (not promoting your business). Just be honest with what you’re really doing in your life all around. This way, when you do Tweet about your business and anything to do with it people will genuinely listen.

    You want them to see your business as just a normal part of your life (which it is). This seems to be the best most effective approach, as well as the easiest 🙂

  3. Hi John, cheers for the comment. You’re right, Twitter is a communications medium, and a very effective one at that, when we use it correctly.

    As Internet Marketers representing our clients, we have to drive targeted traffic and conversions – posting what you had for lunch is perhaps not the best way to do that. 🙂

  4. Sadly though, Twitter is not being used effectively by most of us. The opportunity to market is there by simply stating something you’re doing that can attract others into knowing more. A post I came across a week ago was actually revamping his list of twitter friends because he finally figured out that it’s not really all about the number, but the actual type of crowd that comes.

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