In April of last year I performed a little experiment using my Twitter profile to get a rough idea of how many people actually read and, more specifically, reacted to my tweets. Going into the test I had a working theory that approximately one percent of my audience saw my tweets at any given time. That might sound low, but it was a number I’d been touting to clients for a while, largely to keep their expectations realistic. I needed to see if there was any meat around those bones.
Turns out I overestimated – the test results came back at less than half that, with a rating of 0.46 percent. And it wasn’t just me, or the things that I said – it turns out your Twitter engagement levels get exponentially worse as your followers grow. For example, at the time, links shared by the @Mashable Twitter profile, with its millions of followers, had a click-through rate (CTR) of just 0.11 percent.
So, I was forced to ask: is Twitter just a big waste of time?
No, not at all. But if you’re using Twitter for marketing, brand awareness or self-promotion you have to make every tweet count. As I wrote in my article, it’s an unfortunate reality that at any given moment almost nobody is paying attention to you on Twitter. I mean, seriously. Around 99 percent of the people who follow you will be doing something else at the exact same moment you send out that all-important tweet.
For example (and as I wrote), they could be:
- Reading someone else’s tweets
- Reading their own mentions and direct messages
- Absent from their computer
- Live in a different part of the world (with a different timezone)
- Looking at another screen
- Temporarily blinded by the sudden re-appearance of the sun
- Trapped under something heavy
- Not even using Twitter at all
All of these things reduce the chance of your tweet being seen, read and (most importantly for brands) actioned down to a very, very small number. And it doesn’t really matter who you are – even Twitter celebrities have lousy CTRs. Again, the bigger your audience, the worst results you can expect, at least relatively.
Not convinced? Here’s some more evidence, courtesy of those nice people at Sign-Up.to, who analysed tens of thousands of tweets and found that the average Twitter CTR was 1.64 percent. But here’s the kicker – profiles with 10,000 followers or more had a CTR of just 0.46 percent, which nicely aligns with my own experiment.
Sign-Up.to have summarised their findings with this infographic.
Don’t be disillusioned. There’s still value in building a large audience on Twitter, but it has to be one that is engaged. Otherwise it’s just a number. As I’ve said many times, you’re far better off having one hundred people listening to your every tweet than you are with one hundred thousand who couldn’t pick your avatar out of a lineup. Engage, engage, engage. You have to do the work. And that’s the bottom line.