Chapter 4

Twitter

Twitter is my favorite social site. I love the simplicity, the flexibility, and the vast audience. I remember a time before the word retweet existed, when it took only 30 or so tweets from about as many people for a phrase to become a trending topic worldwide. It is the perfect platform for the distribution of marketing content. Describe a link, paste it in the box, and hit Tweet. Your followers can then click and read, and if they’re so motivated, they can share that link with their followers. It’s the most elegant viral mechanism yet invented.

I hold some controversial points of view about Twitter, but none without data backing them up. And that’s what this chapter is—my most important Twitter data (and the best collection of it anywhere).

I’ve long been interested in the idea that “engaging in the conversation” is the single most important function of social media marketing, so I’ve applied my analysis to test that statement in a variety of places. One of those places has been Twitter.

I looked at millions of Twitter accounts and separated them into two groups: those with more than 1,000 followers (the first light-colored bar in Figure 4.1) and those with fewer than 1,000 followers (the first black bar in Figure 4.1). I then compared those two groups by the percentage of their tweets that started with an “@” sign to arrive at a reply percentage. I repeated this analysis with accounts having more than 1 million followers (the second light-colored bar in Figure ...

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