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Lies Damned Lies and Statistics

January 6th, 2011 · 8 Comments

In today’s blog post on the well respected blog Business Insider Henry Blodgett stated “THE TRUTH ABOUT TWITTER: Half Of Twitter Users Never Listen To A Word Anyone Else Says”

This is presented as some great revelation of startling proportions!  OMG!  Half of my Twitter followers never even read anything.  It’s all a tremendous waste of time!

Let’s put it in perspective.

Over half of all Twitter accounts are abandoned.  This is not news to those in the business who have followed Twitter over the years.  Estimates of abandoned accounts run in the 40% – 60% range. (Facebook’s abandonment numbers are better but estimates still run as high as 35%.)

In all forms of social media there are a small subset of people who generate the majority of content and participate most often. For further thoughts on this concept look at the 90-9-1 rule.

Well under half of the subscribers to any publication, magazine, newspaper, etc read any given article, or view any given ad.  You can’t track eyes on pages of paper the way you can on digital media.  Why isn’t that an issue?  Because paper media has been around and we’ve grown accustomed to it’s lack of hard data.

What Twitter is Good At

Twitter is great for finding influencers, bloggers and media personalities in general.  It’s good for amplifying your story.  It’s good for finding what the industry is talking about, almost any industry.  Generally people in the business of communicating.

Engagement- Twitter is a great tool for approaching and engaging people you’ve never dealt with before.  It is how you can expand and engage with new people, often influential people in your industry.  It’s better than Facebook or LinkedIn because a Twitter connection doesn’t imply any endorsement like being a friend or connection on these other networks.

If you are engaged with your Twitter Followers you don’t care how many abandoned accounts there are, because the accounts you’re dealing with are not abandoned.

What Twitter isn’t Good At

Keeping up with your friends.  Informing your customer base of important news- except if your trying to get to press and influencers, who will then inform your customer base. Communicating with your employees.

Why isn’t Twitter good for these tasks?  Because most of these groups of people aren’t on Twitter.  You want to talk with your friends, use Facebook because most likely they will be on there.  You want to talk with your employees?  Use email because most of them will be on there.

Give me 1 Good Reason why you think it matters how many abandoned accounts there are on Twitter?

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Tags: Twitter Thursday

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kimberly // Jan 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I agree Twitter user statistics are a matter of perspective. To me, personally, it doesn’t matter at all how many abandoned accounts exist. I have two accounts–one private and one public. My private account is used to communicate with friends (most of the time our Twitter feeds end up looking like group chats); my public account is used to aggregate and share information I find interesting. On my public account, I don’t care about how many followers I have or if any of my followers are bots. What I do care about is whether my tweets are interesting to others and whether I’m following people who have quality tweets.

    One possibly good reason to think the statistics on Twitter accounts matter is in convincing others that Twitter can be a legitimate communication tool. When I presented on Twitter in an MBA class in 2008, only two other students had heard of Twitter and no one else thought it could sustain itself or be credible. The percentage of abandoned accounts doesn’t help us when we try to introduce Twitter to those who know nothing about it.

    Great post–thanks!

  • 2 Chris Kieff // Jan 6, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Kimberly, thank you for taking the time to make such a a great comment.
    I think it is our job to point out that the accounts that are active are noteworthy. There is no other way for us to become engaged with so many influential and intelligent people across the globe, IMO. It does matter that so many try it and fail. But that is easily forgotten when you make one meaningful connection with someone.

  • 3 Jeff Yablon // Jan 6, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Right on the money, Chris. As I’ve pointed out before
    (http://answerguy.com/2010/02/05/how-important-is-twitter-social-networking-really/),
    Twitter isn’t about follower count. Facebook sure isn’t about how
    many friends you have. Those, and the other social networking
    tools, are about how you use them Jeff Yablon
    President & CEO
    rel="nofollow">Answer Guy and Virtual VIP Computer Support,
    Business Change Coaching and SEO Consulting/Search Engine
    Optimization Services

  • 4 Aldon Hynes // Jan 6, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I’ve always heard that 73% of all statistics are made up.

    On a more serious note, does it really matter? In the old days, where it cost fifty cents for each person on your direct mail list, it might matter. I might want to cut the size of the list in half to those people that will actually read it, cutting the cost of my mailings in half.

    However, if I send a tweet out to all my followers, it costs the same if I have fifteen close friends as followers, two thousand followers that hang on every words I say, or two hundred thousand followers, where over half of them are abandoned account.

    If you are thinking of things in terms of click through rates, it might matter as well. Having half of your followers be abandoned accounts will hurt your click through rates.

    But this points to the other important issue. What are your social media goals? If they are to increase click through rates, you’re chasing the wrong metric. What you should really be focusing on is the absolute number of people who you have gotten in engaged and whose engagement matters.

    As always, my two cents, YMMV.

  • 5 Heather Turner // Jan 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I think half the accounts get abandoned because people
    don’t take the time to A. really understand it, how it works and
    the things you can do with it and B. they don’t give it a “real”
    try. I track lodging companies on twitter, of the majority that
    have been abandoned many have less then 12 tweets, thats not
    exactly a gung-trial.

  • 6 James // Jan 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Great post. I agree completely. I think the only people who
    will care are probably the ones using bot programs to autotweet
    their spam links anyway.Personally, I use twitter mainly to connect
    with other bloggers, since almost every blogger I know is on
    twitter. And, I know when they abandon ship so I dont worry about
    it. Its all about engaging people when you use any social
    site.

  • 7 Tweets that mention Lies Damned Lies and Statistics -- Topsy.com // Jan 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Kieff, Northlandfox and James Pruitt. James Pruitt said: I like http://www.1goodreason.com/blog/blog/2011/01/06/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics/ [...]

  • 8 dean collins // Jan 22, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Interesting timing, i just used Untweep to cull the list of twitter followers we have for @LiveNFLchat for our http://www.LiveFootballChat.com website.

    Basically i unfollowed anyone who hadn’t posted for 120 days.

    Across the 12 twitter accounts we run we deleted on average 11% of all followers regardless of the size of followers (some accounts have 2000+ followers, some as little at 500).

    It was really bizzare how close to the 11% number it was (no more than 1-3% either way).

    So basically this means Twitter is “leaking” about 33-40% of all accounts per annum.

    This is a big deal.

    Cheers,
    Dean