I attended a webcast featuring a famous consultant and blogger (Let’s call him Twitter King) who mentioned that he had could exert influence over his 50,000 Twitter followers.

REALLY?

I dissected his follower list (public information) and estimated HALF were “trash,” meaning they were spam-generated, get-rich quick spammers, or porn. Those followers are not going to be effective in receiving or re-transmitting any message of “influence.” So that brings us down to 40,000 potentially effective followers in TK’s community.

The latest Nielsen numbers show that 60 percent of Twitter users quit after the first week, that’s one-third the retention rate of other social media platforms. Let’s be generous and say if they found this fellow they’re sticking it out more … but 30% who are showing up as users have already quit. That brings his number of followers down to 28,000.
The Harvard study goes on to say that 90% of the tweets are generated by 10% of the users — a user concentration even higher than Wikipedia! So, let’s define these leading Tweeters as the “thought leaders” we are all trying to connect to. This would imply that, on average, TK has just 406 (0.5% of his followers) who represent people who actively contribute to the conversation.But wait a minute — we need to rule out kids, right? In a business setting, let’s assume we want to connect and influence people over 24. That represents just 33 percent of the population on Twitter. Adult, meaningful follower total: 135.

TK is based in the U.S. and has an American-based consultancy. If he is trying to reach influencers in the U.S. to grow his business, you have to consider that only 40% of Twitter traffic is based there. So active, adult, thought leaders who are also American represent 54 people.

Let’s further assume 15% of all these folks are on vacation or away from their connection for a day (45 people left for TK) and they spend just two hours per day on Twitter where they could actually see and process a tweet from this guy. According to data on Sysmos, about 4% of your users will be active during any one hour of the day. That leaves one person actually seeing and processing your tweet, Mr. Bigshot.

And that would be me. So now who’s boss?

Photo credit: This is an ACTUAL photo of the species Twitterus Poppycockus appearing at a social media forum last week.

Harvard released a study this month showing that among the people who don’t quit, the median number of lifetime tweets is one. I think it’s reasonable to define an “active user” as somebody who tweets at least once a day (less than 15%). Applying that reasonable logic, the number of ACTIVE users this media mogul brags about is actually 4,060.

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