Return on conversation

EDIT: As has been pointed out, I made a rather embarrassing miscalculation in the original post, which made me seriously underestimate the CTR. I evidently need to evaluate my quantitative credentials

My previous post on conversation monitoring was tweeted and retweeted by several individuals. Firstly, I’m grateful that people both read this blog and are motivated to share something I’ve written.

However, the additional traffic that this Twitter activity generated has left me wondering how valuable this social activity is to individuals or organisations that look to spread their message through this sphere.

What follows are some rough numbers given that:

  1. WordPress.com stats are pretty basic
  2. I’ve left it two weeks to do the maths, and so follower numbers will have changed
  3. Follower overlap and actual exposures are unknown

Nevertheless:

  • To my knowledge, the post was tweeted/retweeted 10 times
  • Combined number of people following those who linked the post is 10,354 as of today
  • The post probably got 100 additional hits as a result of Twitter activity

A couple of guesstimated calculations:

  • At an absolute level, this represents a click through rate of 1%
  • If I made the assumption that 5,000 followers are unduplicated (the largest follower count for a retweeter is over 3,000), the CTR changes to 2%
  • How many of the followers would have seen the tweet? A fifth? That changes the CTR to 10%

10% is OK for a CTR, but it isn’t spectacular. The best ad campaigns with a strong call to action (e.g. competition entry) would achieve that.

The argument is that these 10% are going to be of a much higher quality than random visitors – they have acted upon a social recommendation and are likely to be engaged and interested in the content.

But that argument should work for the click through itself. If someone you follow and trust is recommending something, shouldn’t you be more likely to click through than if it were a random link or ad?

There a few issues at play here, which are causing this level of CTR

  • Noise – Twitter is popular; there are a lot of tweets and links to browse and skim
  • Ambient intimacy – often, it is enough for me to know that person X has linked to a post on conversation monitoring by @curiouslyp. I may prefer to browse the remaining tweets rather than click through to this post
  • Power laws – if the post on conversation monitoring was by @jowyang or @chrisbrogan I may click through since they are renowned experts. Who is @curiouslyp and what would he know about this topic?
  • Nature of followers – my prior post was relevant to the PR community – very active on Twitter. I suspect posts of a different subject matter are unlikely to be spread and consumed to the same degree

It is nice to think that the future is social, and that these networks will power traffic in future. But those perpetuating this – in my opinion – myth are those for whom power laws benefit, and who spend an inordinate amount of time on social networks (most likely because it is there job to do so). The average person does not have the time nor inclination to follow through on many, let alone all, posts or links.

So, in my opinion, the return on conversation is pretty minimal. Nevertheless, I did find it interesting to map how my post spread through Twitter via social graphs and, to repeat, I am grateful to the few that took the time to read and pass on my post.

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ironmonkey480/

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2 Responses

  1. OK, I’ll bite – surely 100 is 1% of 10,000?

  2. Exhibit A as to why blogs (unedited blogs, at least) shouldn’t be fully trusted – the greater chance of human error. That is quite embarrassing – thanks for pointing it out!

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