A recent study from Hubspot has determined that while highly-followed Twitter accounts share a lot of links, they converse less frequently than people who follow less than a thousand people.
Twitter accounts with a million or more followers tweet links three times more frequently than users with 1,000 followers or less, but only about 7% of their tweets are replies, compared with 17% for those with the smaller network.
To be honest, we probably didn’t need a study to work this out. Twitter users with millions of followers typically attract that kind of interest because they’re super-famous and therefore busy, and often receive gazillions of tweets from fans, which must be pretty overwhelming. Whereas people with smaller communities receive less messages from fewer people and engaging is, instinctively and by definition, easier. I’m not making excuses for celebrities and brands with huge networks – some of them really need to pull their finger out – but a nominal effort is, in many cases, about as good as one could (and should) expect.
The Hubspot research, however, digs a little deeper, noting that comments on blogs don’t lead to more views or links, and that Likes and comments on Facebook don’t lead to more impressions, before making a startling conclusion: social media engagement doesn’t grow reach. Or, at least, guarantee it.
Does this mean we should all stop engaging? No, not at all. But if your digital strategy isn’t focused on building a strong online community, where engagement is paramount to success, this research suggests that your efforts might be best placed elsewhere.