A lot of people are trying to figure out Twitter — who’s using it, how are they using it, what are they using it for, even what kind of tool Twitter is. Much of the conversation and conclusions are very subjective. The objective stats or hard numbers are reported by Hubspot in their June 2009 State of the Twittersphere report.
Here are the big points from their analysis and our thoughts on what might be going on.
Of all Twitter users:
• 79.79% failed to provide a homepage URL
• 75.86% of users have not entered a bio in their profile
• 68.68% have not specified a location
• 55.50% are not following anyone
• 54.88% have never tweeted
• 52.71% have no followers
(All of these stats are significantly higher than those reported in the Q42008 State of the Twittersphere report.)
What do these numbers mean?
1. Nearly 80% didn’t provide a homepage URL. This stat could lead to a conclusion that many Twitter users are only based in Twitter-land and don’t have a homepage. For business and commercial users, this isn’t a good sign as it could indicate 80% of the people using Twitter don’t have the web equivalent of a home address. For those failing to provide a URL, are they doing it on purpose or do they legitimately not have one?
2. The nearly 75% of the Twitter users have provided no information about themselves for others to see, while nearly 70% literally haven’t specified where they live. For those who have not yet entered a bio or location in their profile, do they have something to hide or are they still setting up their account?
3. The over 50% of users who are following no one and/or not being followed by anyone probably indicates that the account is new or not yet in use. It is not uncommon practice for social media marketers to recommend that you stake out your personal and business names on Twitter even if you’re not going to use them yet. This will protect your brand later when you’re ready to use to tool and would certainly contribute to a stat like this.
4. The 55% who have never tweeted may be new accounts or accounts not yet in use. But there are also those accounts that launch onto the scene and use every trick to follow as many people as possible to get as many followers as possible and never tweet a thing.
So what do these stats mean for nonprofits and ministries?
These statistics confirm what we see when we go through our new followers or when we look for more people to follow. They confirm the rapid rise in Twitter popularity earlier this year (thanks in part to press from Ashton Kutcher and Oprah) where a whole bunch of people signed on to see what the fuss what all about and then have since dropped out of sight. Of course, there are spammers out there, too. But spammers are everywhere, so don’t let them discourage you if this is a tool that you want to use for your charity.
The best way to deal with these stats for yourself and your ministry is to have a following strategy similar to what we outline and then stick to it.
At Oneicity, we don’t follow everyone who follows us. Our strategy is to follow anyone if:
1. We know them (like @al_doyle) OR
2. They are in our niche (nonprofit or ministry) (like @offthemap) OR
3. They were recommendation from someone we know (like @davekerpen) OR
4. They are a thought leader (well-known author or CEO, etc.) (like @michaelhyatt) OR
4. They have conversations in their tweets AND their url is consistent with their bio AND they are not offensive (in language or in their Twitter Avatar) (like @ewebsmart).
At Oneicity, we NEVER follow (and we may block):
1. Anyone whose Twitter name is all gibberish (this is usually a spam account)
2. Anyone whose bio says one thing and their URL links to something completely different (usually a “get-rich-quick” type site–see our Twamway post on the “get-rich-quick” problem).
3. Anyone who only promotes themselves or their products and never engages with the twitterverse
4. Anyone who consistently uses profanity or any sort of off-color comments in their tweets
At Oneicity, we may follow and then later unfollow accounts who don’t follow us back. It all depends upon if their tweets are helpful or engaging to our brand.
Only follow people who will help you and won’t hurt you. And never let anyone follow you who could hurt your brand. Your follower list is public. You wouldn’t want a donor to click on your list and see that you are following or being followed by an “adult-only” account. Proactively block those who are offensive to you or those for whom you are uncertain. This is your organizational brand you are marketing here. If you offend a donor by your naievete you could lose them or have some awkward explaining to do.
Be careful out there. The twitterverse is a frontier not unlike the wild west. And as for the stats, they mean as little or as much as you want them to. Check out your followers and the people you follow. Are they in or outside of these stats?
Was this helpful? Do you or your organization have a following strategy?
Hoots and Thomas