In search of Oasis: Social Networking Popularity

In search of Oasis: Social Networking Popularity

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 19 Jan 2009, 4:00 AM – 3 Comments

I am so late to Twitter (Twitter Id: @UpbeatNow) that it’s not even funny. I am getting educated day by day on what are the best practices on Twitter. Being in the student mode puts me in a state of “wonder” which makes it easy to learn.

In that regard, I looked at the “State of the Twittersphere” report from HubSpot. One thing that caught my attention was a graph that showed the spread of Twitter users by the number of followers. Here is the chart for your quick reference:

Quick thing to note – only 1.4% of the Twitter users have more than 500 followers.  Saying it differently, 98.6% of Twitter users have less than 500 followers. If you observe closely, only 25% of Twitter users have more than 50 followers.

So in other words, most of Twitter is dominated by a small subset of Twitter users.

Taking a deeper look, I also searched for people who have a VERY large number of followers and found that a large majority of them are involved in some sort of social media work. So having a large number of followers is in a way a statement of fact that they know how to make this work in social media (Twitter being a subset of Social Media)

During my conversations with new Twitter users, I see that there is a sense of urgency to be on the “Twitter Elite” by getting as many followers as possible. So, that will lead to strategies such as:

* Follow everyone who follows you

* Follow a  lot of people who might in turn follow you

* Re-tweet messages from Twitter Elite so that they notice you and possibly mention you in their tweets

* Ask a question to a Twitter Elite. In their response you are mentioned and hence their followers might notice you.

* Use Twitter like you would use a social bookmarking tool. Go and carpet bomb Twitter with links

I can list a lot of things but the fundamental question is – “Why would you want to be in the Twitter Elite?”

The above question is more valid if your offer to the marketplace is NOT directly in the social media world. Let me explain further:

Things take time and gaining a set of followers on Twitter using “strategies and tactics” will take longer. If you notice, you will see that celebrities and others who have powerful personal brands (with demonstrable set of accomplishments in a particular domain) find it easy to have a lot of followers. Since you have only 24 hours in a day, you now have to make a choice whether to spend that time on

a) Using strategies and tactics to grow your Twitter followers


b) Use the time to demonstrate accomplishments in your domain so that more followers are attracted to you


c) Focus on b) and get help on a) from experts

Social Media popularity contest can be an oasis. For you to reach your business and personal ambition, it may not be required to be popular on the social media. All you need to do is to leverage your expertise to contribute better to the audience that you can build on social media and vice versa.

Have a great week ahead!


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3 Comments so far, Add Yours

Desh  on January 27th, 2009

Rajesh, it seems Twitter has caught fancy in a lot of areas.. here is an excellent example of how a cancer surgery was Tweeted live!

lehcyfer  on February 18th, 2009

Hi Rajesh. The 1,4% number you’ve given is not exactly right – it is the number of people who have 500 to 1000 followers. Then there is 0,6% of users with 1000 to 2500 followers and 0,2% with over 2500 followers. So the number of users with over 500 followers is 1,4+0,6+0,2=2,2%

In other words 97,8% of twitter users have less than 500 followers.

The 50 followers division reminds me of the Pareto principle, only it is 75-25 instead of 80-20.

This is the layout according to number of followers.

What makes me think is what is the Pareto layout according to the cumulative number of twitters written – is 20% of users generating 80% of all traffic on Twitter?

The Twitter is a mirror of the society, with an emphasis given on fame of the user (what you euphemistically called the “social media work”).

If you look for a gossip, follow all “elite”. That will hardly move your business ahead though. To get a good feeling of the developements in my area of endeavour, I should follow all the twitters who post comments on this subject. Twitters like Peter Shankman are hubs for business oriented twitter activity.

As a matter of fact I think I should have two twitter accounts – one for the social me, following all my friends and family, and one for the business me, following my clients, coworkers and important figures in my field.

The Twitter is not to be read thoroughly. One can rather “skim” it, read current twitters every once in a while, to get the feeling of what is going on.

Determine which of the people you follow gives the best stuff and try to read them thoroughly, and skim the rest. Remove those who spam you with uninteresting messages – 80-20 everything and the Twitter will be of use.

Do the same with your messages – write such as you’d be interested to read yourself, your discoveries. When you give a link to a site, describe it, so that one knows where it leads to. When you ask question, twit also the answer to that question when you found it and thank the one who gave it to you.

Make your twits count and soon the number of your followers will be growing – a good twitter spreads like a bush fire.

Have a great twitting

Rajesh Setty  on February 21st, 2009

Lehcyfer, Thanks for the correction and thanks for catching it. I agree 97.8% of Twitter users have less than 500 followers.



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