Friday, January 9, 2015

Twaddle for nerds?

Yesterday, I received a very interesting email from Twitter. Perhaps that needs a little background on the operation of my blogs and their interaction with Twitter & Facebook etc. Every new update to my blogs gets cross-posted to multiple Twitter accounts. I believe there are probably 5 but I've lost count since I so rarely log into any of them anymore. I was just getting zero interaction from them.

In addition to the updates from my blogs (which get updated ranging from frequently to infrequently), each Twitter account has its own "gazette" that auto publishes once or twice daily from a given set of criteria. Each gazette is a collection of the day's publications that falls within given parameters, for example I might have a search going for "banana photograph" on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or the news websites etc. That will be included in that particular gazette. If it's a Twitter publication source then the source is notified when the gazette is published via inclusion in a tweet (automatically generated). This has the advantage in that it might garner more followers since the auto-follower adders got banished by Twitter. It might also garner some genuine followers.

Further additions are the 20 automated tweets daily for each individual Twitter account. These contain hyperlinks to articles in my travel blog, for example. Each account has its own unique set of 20 Tweets.

After the Twitter follower adders had been banished by Twitter, across all the Twitter accounts there were around 15,000 followers. That ranged from 2,500 to 3,500 per account. Interaction was slim to zero which indicated almost a total lack of engagement by the followers. Looking more closely at some of the followers, many were posting and never responding. More than that, they were advertising websites and products. Many were not even Tweeting in English. Thus, I ran a follower deleter so that I didn't have to follow accounts that just didn't have anything to say. This reduced the number of accounts I was following, majorally. In fact, I ran into bars on the numbers I could delete in a day. Now there was a disparity between the numbers that I was following versus the number that was following me. More followed me than I followed back and this remains the case.

One specific account is cited here. I get regular engagement reports from Twitter. This account has around 2,000 followers and sends out 20 automated Tweets a week and retweets everything the only account I actually use broadcasts. At 20 daily, that's 140 tweets a week plus the retweets going to around 2000 followers. This means that each week, 280,000 tweets are received from me on this account plus retweets.

The engagement report stated that over the week, my tweets had been seen 205 times and that I had 2 new followers and 3 link visits. Out of 280,000 tweets, 205 actually being seen is around 0.0007% of my tweets and since each of the 280,000 has a link, just 0.00001% of the tweets gets an action.

There's little point in being truly scientific and studying the other accounts because they will (from past study) yield exactly the same kind of result. I enclose some screenshots as examples.

What conclusion can we make from this? Clearly we're going to have to make some assumptions based on the evidence and these assumptions are:

First: The vast majority of Twitter followers are bots. I operated my accounts as live but had no interaction so I turned them over to be bots. I suspect the same has happened to the vast majority of other accounts.

Second: Twitter follower adders managed to add a load of bots to my accounts and very little else. Those that could be clearly seen to be bots I have eliminated but many bots remain.

Third: Automated gazettes are almost totally worthless in adding Twitter followers. Were they great then many more followers than two would join each week.

Fourth: In terms of advertising the blogs, Twitter is pretty worthless. 3 links followed out of 280,000 tweets means that updating anything on the automated Twitter system or the automated gazette system is a pointless waste of time. There's more point in picking up a penny on the ground than advertising on Twitter.

Fifth: Facebook - for some unknown reason I get hits from Facebook. I can only assume that my blog somehow makes it to Facebook but even so - 3 hits is not much.

My conclusion, based on the weeks report (which echoes other weekly reports) and based on blog viewing figures is that there's a huge disparity between reported sources of hits and actual hits. The Twitter reports fairly accurately report what I see on my blog reports for sourced hits. Blog reports - now that's an entirely different kettle of fish. As far as the worth of Twitter and Gazettes, they're not worth the effort of setting them up nor the effort of taking them down. Their net worth appears to be precisely zero. As the title says - Twitter and Gazettes are just Twaddle for nerds.

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