Twitter’s True Reach: A Framework for Discussion

It recently made big news in social media circles when it was discovered that only around 12% of Twitter’s roughly 950 million registers users have sent a tweet in the last 30 days. While the idea that nearly half of Twitter’s registered users have never sent a single tweet (and no doubt a chunk of those are fake or “bot” accounts) created a minor stir, it should come as no surprise. The true reach and message amplification capability of Twitter is full of nuance and light on precision.

The advantage a messaging service like Snapchat offers over Twitter is the sender can know with certainty whether a message has been consumed. On Facebook, and even more so on Twitter, it is very much a guess. Twitter’s analytics offer no insight into the methodology and, like a lot of social media data services, are an amalgam of the number of followers overall between the sender, recipients that retweet, etc. These huge numbers may be nice for the ego and nice to show the bosses, but, when it comes to engagement percentage, click-through rate, and actual conversions and awareness, these numbers serve only to deceive.
It’s not all hopeless, though. There is a sunnier side to the enigma of Twitter’s true reach.

Let’s go back to that 12% of active Twitter users. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are among that 12% and no doubt have, at least once, espoused all the ways that Twitter is awesome while exhorting peers to join and/or being that guy/girl among your circle that shares the content and breaking news and incredible pictures and epic fails that you discover on Twitter. Or maybe a tweet spurs a mention on SportsCenter, a discussion on a talk show, or scrolls across the crawl on the local and national news networks. The reality is a lot of the messaging and content that originates on Twitter spreads far beyond the little blue bird’s reaches and it’s difficult to truly assess the effective reach of a tweet.

This post wasn’t meant to an answer a question, but to fuel a discussion. I’m interested in others’ thoughts on Twitter’s true reach. So share with me in the comments or on Twitter. I can almost guarantee your tweets will be carried with me to the water cooler and beyond!

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