I read an interesting CNN article today (yes, I know. Shocker. CNN is mostly trash). It talks about a small, (very non-scientific) experiment that the authors conducted on Twitter, using Alyssa Milano, Bill O’Reilly and another not famous person. The authors wanted to see if a tweet from a person with a million followers would increase sales of their book.
As I said, the scientific method in this experiment is non-existent. But their observations ring quite true to me, based on what I know of behavior from years of reading university research articles and books on behavior. The article actually backs up what I told WHYY in Philadelphia as an advisory board member to their new Newsworks project: Go after the smaller big wigs on Twitter. The people with 100 followers have way more influence with those 100 followers than I have with any 100 of my 5,800 followers. If the Newsworks team can engage the hyperlocal chatters and solidify them as believers/community members, then the Newsworks word will spread.
My other “high-follow” friends on Twitter and Facebook have reported the same observation, that their influence seems to change once they get over say, 5,000 followers. They get less replies, less conversation, more spam, etc. Unless, like the CNN article suggests, there is something at stake. My friend Cecily Kellogg (@CecilyK) felt the impact of her influence online lately when she tweeted about the pedophile book that was up on Amazon (that Amazon at first refused to take down). Her tweet spread like wildfire because there was a very important debate behind it. Then Cecily received lots and lots of internet hate from personalities whom I call FAFWs: First Amendment Flag Wavers, probably because they (mistakenly) saw Cecily as the origin of the tweet and the debate. So, in this case, Cecily’s influence went far, but if she only had 100 followers, she wouldn’t have been attacked by the FAFWs. Those kind of myopic posers see Cecily’s follower count (around 37,200 at this writing), and see her as one of those kind of authorities one may attack.
At around 5000 followers, I get only small versions of that kind of hate. But flaming someone online is easy, and it is an accepted, even expected behavior. Buying something or spending actual money is a behavior that takes a few steps and involves financial standing. As any marketer knows, that’s a much different thing. Put an actual cash price on each flame comment and you’ll see the comments disappear. We all know how that works.
Anyway, check out the article and tell me how you experience twitter, influence, and what it really takes to influence people to buy your product.