Twitter Reach Could Be as Low as 2%

Those new to Twitter tend to have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved on the micro-blogging platform from a marketing perspective. Until they come to fully understand Twitter, some believe that it will result in hundreds or thousands of people hanging on their every 140-character update, with every tweet being read by every single follower. Others feel that no-one will have any interest in anything they have to say and that not a single person will read anything they write. The truth is obviously somewhere in-between. But where?

If you had to guess how many people read a given tweet that you post, what would your estimate be? Five out of every 100 followers? Ten? Well, a study I have carried out reveals that the reach of any single tweet could be as low as just 2%.

Over the course of two weeks, I asked followers across a number of Twitter profiles to @ reply to a tweet simply if they read it*. The average response rate, and therefore reach of any given tweet, was just 2.3%. Or, to put it in another way, for every 100 followers you have, only two will read any individual tweet you post. Although, as expected, the results varied depending on factors such as time of day, day of the week and the profile itself (ie how engaged followers are) the variation was not that wide, with response rates varying from around 0.7% to just over 3%. In fact, figures of between 2.1% and 2.5% were remarkably common. So what can we learn from this?

One of the most common questions I’m asked when recommending that an organisation establishes a Twitter profile is: how many people will read my tweets? It’s also one of the most difficult questions to answer with any degree of authority. Aside from stating follower numbers, estimates are just that: guesses. But what this insight reveals, if anything, is that tweeting regularly is absolutely vital. Tweeting a couple of times a day, or even less in some cases, is a complete waste of time and effort. With Twitter, you get out what you put in. While building follower numbers is without doubt key to long-term success, more important is tweeting regularly and often. Ignoring possible retweet numbers, if this study is accurate, a profile with 1000 followers that tweets twice per day will reach approximately 46 people. A profile with half the number of followers that tweets ten times per day will reach 115.

It would be fantastic to get your input into this statistic. Does it mirror your own thoughts and experiences? And why don’t you conduct your own experiment and let me know the results; let’s gain some real insight…

* I asked people to respond to the following tweet: “Experiment. If you read this tweet please, please reply to let me know. Results revealed in a blog post near you soon…” The tweet was run across five profiles at varying times of day over a two week period. Profiles varied between under 200 and over 1200 followers. The content of any given tweet in this study is irrelevant, as I was looking at a tweet being read, not acted upon (eg retweet/click-thro etc).

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