Chalk Up Twitter's Decline to Ghost Followers

Is Your Network a Global Ponzi Scheme of Madoff-ian Proportion?

By Published on .

Taddy Hall
Taddy Hall
Last week, eMarketer reported data from Compete, Nielsen and ComScore showing a decline in visitors to Twitter from 23 million to 20 million.

Why might that be?

Our data here at Meteor, collected from a cross-section of sites (though not necessarily representative), shows a very clear pattern: Click-through rate on tweets is inversely correlated with number of followers. In plain English, the more followers you have the less likely they are to click on your tweets.

They are, in effect, Ghost Followers.

What's happening?

The currency in Twitter is followers. Fine, but one of the essential attributes of currency is that it is either intrinsically valuable (gold) or a proxy for value (greenbacks). And what we have with Twitter is a currency (followers) of little or no value -- intrinsic or implied.

What we have all realized is that the best way for me to get you to follow me -- more "currency" for me -- is for me to follow you. I scratch your back and you scratch mine. That neither of us pays any attention to the other's tweets is a trifling concern.

Well, you can see where this all leads: a global Ponzi scheme of Madoff-ian proportion (comical, though, not criminal).

There have always been two engines to Twitter's growth: utility and novelty. Particularly for businesses, Twitter has shown itself a useful if not revolutionary tool. And in select circumstances for private citizens -- such as natural disasters or local happenings -- Twitter is wonderfully handy.

The novelty factor had to wear off. Perhaps we are seeing the early signs of this inevitable evolution.

Twitter is not dead, but nobody really cares that I put milk on my cereal this morning.

Taddy Hall is the chief operations officer for Seattle-based Meteor Solutions, which helps marketers measure, manage and monetize online earned media. Prior to that he served as chief strategy officer for the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).
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