Good News, Everyone! Your Twitter Engagement Level Might Be As High As 0.46%

The number of followers you have on Twitter has always been a dubious and highly-debatable measure of success. Your level of engagement (mentions, retweets, clicks) is a much better indication of true influence.

Moreover, when you consider that at any one time the actual number of people paying attention to you on Twitter is frighteningly small, then one thing becomes crystal clear: you always need to be on your A game.

I’ll expand. As well as writing about Twitter, I also set-up, manage and consult on Twitter (and Facebook, CPC and email) campaigns for a number of different brands. One of the lessons I like to stress upon my clients is the concept of active users. Not in the general, Twitter-won’t-tell-us sense – that data won’t be coming any time soon – but how that everyone on Twitter, all of us, has a very limited number of our followers reading our tweets at any one time.

And in these consultations, I’ve always reduced this down to a single number: 1 per cent.

Yep. In my opinion, the average Twitter profile can expect, at any given moment, that about 1 per cent of their followers is paying them any attention whatsoever.

How did I come to this conclusion? Well, it’s entirely anecdotal, but don’t hold that against me. Here’s the math:

  1. I would estimate that at any given time of the day when you are using Twitter, no more than 10 per cent of your followers are also using Twitter, and
  2. I would also estimate that at any given time of the day when you are using Twitter, no more than 10 per cent of that 10 per cent of your followers also using Twitter are proactively looking out for your tweets

10 per cent of 10 per cent is 1 per cent. So, if you have 1,000 followers, science my gut tells me that, at most, 10 of them are reading that tweet you just published.

At most.

Sounds extreme? Not really. The harsh reality is that most of the time the vast majority of people are not looking in your direction. You’re not even on their radar. Why? Well, maybe because they are:

  • Reading someone else’s tweets
  • Reading their own mentions and direct messages
  • Absent from their computer
  • In a different part of the world
  • Looking at another screen
  • Temporarily blinded by the sudden re-appearance of the sun
  • Distracted
  • Trapped under something heavy
  • Asleep/dead (you never really know until they move)
  • Not even using Twitter

And that’s just off the top my head. The point is they could be doing anything. Anything that isn’t, in any way, shape or form, involved with reading your freshly-published tweet. And for many people, certainly those following gazillions of users, Twitter moves so fast that your tweet has scrolled off the page before they even had a chance to pay attention.

Okay, so this isn’t going to stand up in court. But hunches are hunches – i.e., you can’t let them go – and I’ve been thinking about this 1 per cent number quite a bit in the past week or two. Specifically, if only 1 per cent of people are actually reading your tweets, how many of them should you expect to action something you’ve asked or want them to do? For example, clicking on a link, issuing a retweet or just a simple reply.

Yesterday, I decided to test it out.

Let me explain the madness and break that tweet down. Capital letters at the start imply SHOUTING, so people naturally pay more attention (pro tip). I followed with politeness (note use of the word ‘kindly’) and asked any of my followers who read the message to reply back to me (with, literally, anything) because I was writing a post about presence on Twitter. So, I was all straight up and stuff, and didn’t ask them to click on any links, retweet something or share a hashtag, just in case they got suspicious.