Over the past few days, the usual suspects/A-Listers drug back out the tired old argument that the size of your network equals 'influence' in the social media space. One of them said that they wanted to be able to search by 'authority'(followers) on Twitter, and implied that followers=influence on Twitter.
Here's an example of why this thinking is not only archaic, but dead wrong when it comes to social media.
On Friday night I got off Twitter for a couple of hours. When I got back to the computer, the first thing I did was check my blog's traffic, which I always keep a close eye on.
Now you have to remember that this was the Friday after Christmas. I had 79 visitors on Christmas day, so I would expect for my traffic on the day after Christmas to be a bit higher, but not by much.
When I checked it on Friday, I found that I had 126 visitors....in the previous HOUR!
What had happened? A couple of people had tweeted a link to this post I wrote last week on building your followers/subscribers, and then it snowballed. Over the next 24 hours, I found several times where it had been retweeted. And of all the people that retweeted it, I only found 2 that had more than 2,000 followers.
Now here's the key; the 'authority matters' logic tells us that in order to see a our ideas spread, we need to target 'influentials'. And these people believe the 'influentials' are people with a lot of followers on Twitter. Fewer followers means less influence. At least, that's they way their 'logic' goes.
But instead of having one person with 10,000 followers link to my post, I had a guy with 900 followers link to it, and that led to another dozen or so people following suit. When the smoke cleared, Twitter had sent this blog about an extra 500 visitors over a 2-day period. Not too shabby.
Three things to keep in mind about Twitter:
1 - When it comes to follower counts, bigger isn't always better. Take the average Twitter user that has let's say 50 followers. Those 50 followers are probably all friends, many of them are likely close friends. So if this person sends out a tweet to their 50 friends to 'check out this post by Mack Collier on using Twitter. GREAT advice!!!', the odds are that many of their 50 followers will read the post. And it also means that those 50 followers are much more likely to retweet the link. See you don't focus on the SIZE of the audience, you focus on the likelihood that the post will be shared. Retweets can quickly trump a large follower amount.
2 - The context of the link is key. Which is more interesting, 'New post by Jim on TweetDeck', or 'Great post by Jim on using TweetDeck to organize your Twitter followers! Must read!'. Clearly, there's a much more persuasive 'call to action' in the latter tweet.
3 - Everyone has a network, everyone has a community. That network might be 1,000 followers, or it might only be 10. But even if it's a small network, all it takes is one person to RT the link to a follower with 5,000 followers, and if they RT, then the floodgates could open. People aren't siloed, and ideas spread via Twitter with amazing efficiency.