Earlier this month, Dan Zarrella of HubSpot posted a highly-detailed blog suggesting that 22 tweets a day was the best way, statistically speaking, to use Twitter. His research included the Twitter habits of more than 1.6 million Twitter users, with emphasis on the habits of the most-followed (or, in Twitter parlance, most popular) users.
Undoubtedly, this “22 tweet” proclamation was then pinned to the bulletin boards of countless marketing offices and pasted into numerous Power Point pitches. But, as Zarrella pointed out in the blog’s actual title (“Is 22 Tweets-Per-Day the Optimum?”), that number is flawed, because it doesn’t tell you the whole story. For example:
* It ignores the content and context of what’s actually in the tweets
* It doesn’t specify the time of day those tweets were sent — or seen
* It doesn’t indicate how many people are actually seeing those tweets, vs. the potentiality of the Twitter user’s entire aggregate audience
* It doesn’t delineate between original tweets and retweets (or “forwarded” tweets from others)
* It implies that the “most-followed” Twitter users (like Barack Obama, The New York Times and Zappos) are being followed as a result of their frequency of Twitter use, rather than their brand-name attraction. (Obama’s account, for example, has been dormant since January 19th.)
* It defines Twitter success solely in terms of followers, without regard for whether one’s audience will take action (in terms of sales, marketing, activism, direct feedback, etc.) based upon that user’s tweets
Unfortunately, marketers, consultants and advertising agencies are so eager to quantify the impact of social media — if for no other reason than to understand what percentage of their bugdet (and time) they think their clients should be investing in it — that they’re looking for any statistical shorthand that can help make their work (and their clients’ decisions) easier.
But just as you can’t quantify a baseball player’s impact on the game based solely on his batting average, you can’t summarize social media’s impact on your business based strictly on a pre-determined criteria of “followers,” “views” or “comments.” The “22 tweets” results are interesting and, in some cases, may be useful, but when it comes to conversation-based metrics, mathematical statistics only tell one part of the story.
Image by ©aius.