January 10, 2011

The Twichter Scale

Okay, let me begin my suggesting that this article really is for Twitter users, however if you aren't then - apply this theory: You receive an interesting fax, and you feel compelled to send it (by fax) to your entire contacts list. That's re-faxing... and for Twitter, that's the same theory for re-tweeting.

If you put time and energy into composing a Tweet, you can measure a whole range of statistics about how many people see it, how many people re-tweet it, and all the usual stuff: country, city, referral etc.

I think you'll find that if you're a relative newbie to Twitter (and not a major celebrity), then you probably will be disheartened to learn that most new Twitter users don't last a week. Of those that do, finding that you won't really get any kind of Klout for 2-6 months, is also something of a bummer. By the way, Klout is about influence, which is always debatable: Bieber more influential than Obama. Really!? This post is not about influence. Just to be clear. It's about something much more workable.

During December 2010, only 17% of all active Twitter accounts in the entire world, actually tweeted. The rest laid dormant, forgotten, and new subscribers are slowing down. While that may appear like a bad thing, I actually think its a good thing. Twitter is maturing, and those that use it, USE IT. It's becoming refined, and it's clear that in 2011, Twitter is set to become a heck of a lot more savvy. Remember, it's not about the platform "Twitter", but what people do with it.

Like an email subscription database such as Mailchimp, how many responses, or any level of engagement beyond opening (glancing) the e-letter, will your statistics show you? The challenge for e-letters is to engage 'subscribers' with you or your company. With Twitter, engagement is re-tweeting, replying or direct messaging you (or your company).

If the Christchurch Earthquake was a tweet:
Heads up guys. After about 25 million years, there's a bit of movement going on deep down beneath you, so expect more instability for a bit. You might get more Alps, or a Volcano at some point so, yeah.
Consider the ongoing aftershocks. The earth clearly shook on September 4, 2010 and we all heard it. Not only did we hear it, but Cantabrians are getting reminders via aftershock about the same thing nearly every day.

If your tweet about something important was re-tweeted as many times as Christchurch has had aftershocks, it would be the worlds most influential tweet.

I think the power of a Tweet has a correlation like that major first earthquake on Sept 4. Lets say, the first Tweet is sent. Following that, and quite quickly will be a wave of re-tweets, usually within the hour. Then the third, fourth, fifth waves later on, by those who missed the first.

Now, that's assuming the first tweet was only sent ONCE. The size of the first wave of re-tweets (aftershocks) will only show a small percentage of followers who happen to see, or be alerted by your tweet at that time. Even then, only a small percentage of your entire followers list will re-tweet you. Let's say, a mere 3% impact. Not good. Already you can see that a Tweet can quickly vanish into nothingness in the bigger scheme.

Let's say you Tweet (but not spam) the same message a few times over the period of a day. One at 7am, one at 11:30am, another at 1:45pm, 4:30pm, 7:30pm and 11:00pm. The chances of your tweet getting seen by your followers is greatly increased, as you're trying to put your tweet in front of them whenever they open their Twitter app at various times throughout the day.

Tip: Knowing the best times to Tweet is a metric you should never do without.

You can imagine over a period of 24 hours, that your one message (Tweeted 6 times / every 4 - 4.5 hours) will have been seen by most of your active followers, and the impact might look more like 20%. That would be excellent.

To measure the Richter I mean, Twichter scale of your Tweet, the 20% of your followers who responded / engaged by re-tweeting or replying would help create "aftershocks" as their followers would re-tweet. Much like those dodgy pyramid schemes we've all seen at one point or another - their followers impact will help generate the third "aftershock" and so on. By 24 hours, your Tweet would have pretty much exhausted itself.

Checkpoint. Still with me? Well, this is pretty much how I reckon the Twichter scale would work:
  1. Your Tweet 
  2. First Re-tweets (lets hope for 20% impact by your followers over 24 hours)
  3. Second wave (by hopefully 20% of their followers)
  4. Third wave (again, by the same - this metric should stay strong if you have good followers who have good followers, and so on)
  5. Fourth wave... and so on.
Scenario 1
Of all the people who re-tweet in 24 hours, say you get 77 re-tweets through 3 waves (or "aftershocks"). You simply divide that figure - 77 tweets divided by 3 = 25.6 (your average). Then multiply this by your first wave percentage - say 20%. The number comes to about 132.

Scenario 2
Okay, say I get 77 retweets through the first wave only, and nothing further, then 77 tweets divided by one wave (1) multiplied by your first wave percentage (20%) would equal 1185. Well, the number is higher because your average was higher.

longtail effect. Read on, you'll see why.

Now, a random number, small or large doesn't mean shit - by that, it's not easily understood, so here's how I make it a bit interesting. Let's rip off the Cricketers, by rocking up after dark and stealing their scoreboard and lets use one of their terms: 'batting average'.

The Twichter Scale for Scenario 1 would be 132 for 3, or 132/3
The Twichter Scale for Scenario 2 would be 1185 for 1, or 1185/1

Instantly, you can see that the second scenario is much much much more powerful than the first. It says that this persons first wave of followers are fricking awesome followers that gave you 1185 retweets Wow! It also bodes well for a second wave. Try adjusting the variables a bit. Play around.

For businesses, this first wave of followers are your customers - your rainmakers, and should be treated like KINGS.

Over time, you'll eventually get your 'batting average'. The higher your batting average, no matter how many waves your tweet goes through, the better your Twichter Scale becomes. Unlike Klout, there is something else.

The final piece of the equation is creating value in the Twichter Scale, and how it's built is really up to you. Remember, this is built on the amount of your active followers, how many waves your tweet goes through, and your batting average.

One example could be

An Example Twichter Scale
  • 100-500/1: Value = $1000
  • 100-500/2: Value = $750
  • 100-500/3: Value = $500

You'll just need to determine (like the longtail), where your business / influence lies and create value accordingly.

Monetizing Twitter for business, for promotion, for influence or cred - I reckon the Twichter Scale could be a viable way. And lets face it - you can lead the way with your own model, or wait for Twitter (or someone else) to hold your hand and take a fee for doing so.