What’s Your Twitter Reach? Find Out With This Formula

Author: Gab Goldenberg

Twitter Meta Moo! too far?Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License (Image by Josh Russell) What’s your real Twitter reach? People keep mistakenly promoting the tactic of getting tens of thousands of followers on Twitter by following everyone else, for the sake of having massive influence with any single tweet. But if everyone followed everyone else – the logical conclusion of this tactic – then the tactic dies. Because the attention given to any one tweet would be so tiny as to be meaningless.

Your Twitter stream would amount to a blur of tweets. In that case, no one would have very much broadcasting influence, even though everyone has millions of followers.

So I came up with some simple math to calculate your true Twitter broadcasting reach / influence.

Broadcasting Reach and Influence (BRAIN) = Number of Followers (NoF) / Your Followers’ Average Number of People Followed  (Attention Competitors). Your influence depends on people Twitter estrategy interested in what you have to say relative to others competing for your followers’ attention.

Attribution License by e-strategyblog.com

Let’s suppose John has 30,000 followers. Each of them are mega-sheep and they follow 10,000 people on average. John has a BRAIN of 30,000 divided by 10000. John’s BRAIN = 3 (OMGz 3 brains?! Freak! 😉 )

A variation on this formula that might be useful would be Daily BRAIN. That is, how many people can you reach daily?

Of course, there are variations and other factors to add to this formula. It’s not perfect and there’s lots of room for improvement. Some factors I can think of offhand include:

  • The comparative rate at which you tweet and the rate at which the other people your followers tweet. If your followers follow only ghost accounts plus you, then you still have a monopoly on their attention despite them following thousands of other Tweeple.
  • The number of times your followers login daily.
  • How long your followers stay logged-in for.
  • The overlap between your logged-in time and that of your followers.
  • How closely what you tweet relates to your followers’ interests.
  • Whether you wear your followers out with too many tweets, or with tweet repetition, so that they develop ‘tweet blindness’ to what you post on Twitter.
  • Whether other people your followers follow are including links in their tweets, taking your followers’ attention outside Twitter.

I’d love to hear any refinements you can make to this formula, or see you turn this into a program/tool for measuring reach and influence. But as I’m sharing this particular post and formula on an open source basis, I require that if you develop something derived from these ideas, that your tool be open source and free, too (not allowing even a free basic and paid premium tool).

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  1. Hey Gab, I haven't given the idea a lot of thought yet, but I see one immediate cause for concern. This metric would heavily favor having followers who don't follow many people. Your formula, as it stands, is saying that a person who follows 1 person is the most valuable follower. I would disagree with that. I think that there is probably a sweet spot. Your followers get more valuable up to a certain number of followers (theirs, not yours), then that value decreases at an increasing rate. My point is that the people who have a steady flow of interesting tweets coming across their screen are going to be much more engaged than the people who barely see any new tweets. I wish that I could draw a graph of value vs. # of followers to make the explanation simpler. I also think that people who are followed more than they follow are likely more valuable followers. Maybe you could work that into the metric?

    Comment by Willy - March 24, 2009 @ 11:46pm
  2. Good points, I've been thinking the same thing. But is there a tool that you can use to get 'Your Followers Average Number of People Followed'? Can it be done through the API?

    Comment by wbw_Jeff - March 25, 2009 @ 1:39pm
  3. Interesting concept Gab. It would work in to some extent in weeding out the sheep, put would also punish genuine influencers who are followed by the attention whores. I'm with you. Twitter is about relationships for me, and you simply can't connect in a meaningful way with thousands of people. I flat out reject anyone with over 10,000 followers unless i know they're a genuine influencer.

    Comment by James Duthie - March 25, 2009 @ 7:18pm
  4. Excellent points here Willy. The fact of having interesting tweets to read is definitely a reason for some folks to login. So while you may monopolize their attention by being the only person they follow, there may not be much attention to monopolize int he first place! So then the question is how do you work in rate of logging in and time spent on Twitter into the above formula? I mentioned those factors, but here you have an excellent demonstration of why they need to be worked into the formula to make it more valuable. A low followed:followers ratio is also an important metric. Now that I think about it, it helps you boost the reach you have amongst "2nd level followers" (e.g. those who follow your followers) because you'll be competing with fewer folks for retweets.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 25, 2009 @ 9:59pm
  5. That's what I'm thinking, Jeff.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 25, 2009 @ 10:00pm
  6. "It would work in to some extent in weeding out the sheep, put would also punish genuine influencers who are followed by the attention whores." I'm not sure that's accurate. Can you explain why?

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 25, 2009 @ 10:02pm
  7. I think that the number of active lists that follow you is a greater authority for your reach out on Twitter. You can read the same on http://www.gseo.net/blog/post/257

    Comment by Cijo Abraham Mani - June 30, 2010 @ 8:09am

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