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State of the Twittersphere (and Our Secret)

State of the Twittersphere (and Our Secret)

It’s like Christmas morning, all eight nights of Chanukah and your birthday in one day! Boston marketing software company Hubspot has released their 2009 State of the Twittersphere Report. The funny part is I really don’t know if I’m being sarcastic: I just look forward to reading, and reading in between the lines of this report.

Twitter is the social media network that everyone knows, but seemingly few know how to use. Those of us who’ve learned the ways of Twitter love the edge it provides: contacts and relevant information. The Hubspot report relies heavily on their web tool, Twitter Grader, to draw results. On the up site, that includes measuring some 4.5 million users – or roughly 1 in 4 Twitter users.

Twitter is based on following a person who interests you – or subscribing to what they have to say (their “tweets”). Follow the wrong people and it looks like you’re reading your junk e-mail. Simply “unfollow” them and search for people who share your interests with content that is relevant to you, and things get better quickly.

Daily Twitter users will not follow you unless you have certain elements, like a profile with your interests, changed the default avatar to a photo, or at the very least, tried to share and be social. The report found several of these misgivings were more commonplace than I would have expected:

• 79.79% failed to provide a homepage URL like a blog, LinkedIn page, etc.
• 75.86% of users have not entered a bio in their profile. I must assume they are interested in nothing.
• 68.68% have not specified a location (Make up your own joke).
• 55.50% are not following anyone’s tweets. Hint: click the ‘find people’ link and look for shared interests.
• 54.88% have never tweeted (communicated). “What good is sitting alone in your room . . . ?”
• 52.71% have no followers (people subscribed to their tweets).

My analysis of these numbers: Most people were not social and do not get that being social is more about sharing what you love than waiting for someone interesting to find you. Imagine being on Facebook without any friends. That’s how you start off. The best way to act is as if you were at a business related social function. Listen and meet people one at a time. Talk to those people with whom you share a mutual interest.

It takes three to four weeks to search on people who may interest you, and follow them. And then you can unfollow your mistakes. It’s no different than setting up a professional network – it takes time to find the right people.

And never confuse followers with influence. It is better to have sincere influence with 50 people than no influence with 1,000.

The report states the Twitter is growing 5,000 to 10,000 new accounts per day. Last year, this report stated that more than 80 percent of users shared their interests in their bio line in Twitter. This year, only 24 percent of users felt it necessary to share that with others. Not very social, is it?

This explains why so many users drop off: they don’t see the relevance in Twitter because they just don’t know how to use it. They jumped on the bandwagon, but were never made aware of how this thing works.

Harvard Business School’s report on Twitter said that “the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets.” I think the HBS study (with 300,000 random users) has their percentages a little bit too extreme, but they and the Hubspot data (4.5-million measured users) can be read that people bail out and don’t learn how to use the platform.

Thus, I will repeat Wayne’s basics for personal users who wish to start on Twitter:

  • Listen, listen, listen. Use a tool like and type in words of interest to you. You will be amazed at the conversations and knowledge being shared.
  • Follow 20 people who are the most interesting. Don’t tweet yet.
  • Decide who you are: What is your personal online brand? What will you say, and what won’t you say. Learn what others are saying and see what bores you and what interests you.
  • Use the ‘find people’ link from the Twitter page and find 20 people within your area who are interesting.
  • Add 10 news sources and let the news follow you. Search local and international sites.
  • Look for a few people to follow closely and find a mentor. Don’t tell that person they are your mentor – you’ll just weird them out.
  • Change your icon to a photo. One of you would be nice.
  • Add a one line bio. Share a bit with us.
  • Speak to others as you would like to be spoken to. Speak plainly and frankly; share articles you are interested with and remember, you can’t take things back.
  • Don’t tell me you’re going to the movies. Tell me, in 140 characters, what you thought of the movie. Even better, blog about it and tweet a link to it.

While every one else is hearing how people are leaving Twitter, we can keep the secret: It’s still the best place to be exposed to more useful ideas per minute than anywhere else on the planet.

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