There’s a new Twitter study each week – many of them are useful, many, not so much. I tend to read them all, and look for the information that will be most useful for social media marketing for both my clients, and for the agency. A recent one that caught my interest looked into the relationship between the number of Followers you have, and how – or if – larger numbers equate to more influence. The Harvard Business Review did a good synopsis and blog post on the study, which determined that larger numbers don’t always equal greater influence.
A common perception is that, on Twitter, we should all be in a race to be crowned “Most Popular” – to have thousands of followers who will read our thoughts, take our messages and wisdom to heart, and maybe, buy our products or services. But such a singular focus is a bad idea, and not a guarantee of success, as the study bears out.
That said, the value of a wider audience cannot be ignored. For the same reasons a company may buy an ad during radio drive-time, that same company will benefit from a growing Follower base – having its choice heard by larger numbers of – the right – people. So how do we measure influence on Twitter? I don’t have all the answers, but here are three things to look at when evaluating our social media programs:
- Website referrals: How much traffic to your website are your tweets generating? Whether your goal is relational or transactional, if people are clicking on your (shortened) links, then your Followers are interested in what you are sharing. So keep an eye on those Google Analytics and see where your referral traffic is coming from – your social media channels should be among the top.
- Time spent on site: Building on this, another measure to consider is how much time referrals from social media channels are spending on your website. Are they dropping off quickly, or are you driving traffic that then engages with you for a longer period of time? For instance, a recent analysis of The Clean Air Campaign’s Facebook referral traffic showed that those visitors were spending more than five times the amount of time on the website than the average visitor in the same one-month period. Then use that knowledge to further evaluate what you are – or are not – doing well on your social media channels.
- Who Is Following You: When you get into the hundreds, or even thousands of followers, it’s close to impossible to know all there is to know about who is following you. But take a look every now and then. I often look to see if key journalists are following clients – whether it’s payments industry trade media following SPVA, Las Vegas-based businesses following Club Ride, or Atlanta TV journalists monitoring The Clean Air Campaign. By doing some regular reviews of Follower lists, we can better gauge if the 140 characters we’re sending out are reaching the targets we want them to reach.
Social media evaluation is an evolving science, but it’s exciting to watch develop, and the available data offers a lot to explore. Just don’t get hung up on any one variable when trying to gauge your success. Though it is always nice to be followed.