Twitter impression rate: only 8% of my followers see my tweets

The Wild Man Of Unanderra by Alan licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
The Wild Man Of Unanderra by Alan licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This might come as a surprise to some of you, but most of your Twitter followers don’t see your tweets.

I have more than 7,000 Twitter followers, but my status updates are shown only 580 times on average. That’s an 8.3% Twitter impression rate.

The data comes from Twitter’s Tweet activity dashboard, which shows, among other things, “how many times your Tweet has been viewed on Twitter’s Android and iOS apps or on Twitter.com.”

Because it’s a cocktail party

Why are tweets seen by such a seemingly small percentage of followers? Twitter is frequently described as an online cocktail party, and that analogy can help explain low Twitter impression rates.

When you enter a cocktail party, only some of your friends and acquaintances are there. When you send out a tweet, only some of your followers are using Twitter.

Cocktail parties are loud and full of simultaneous conversations. When you say something, only a small handful of people who are near you will hear you. Similarly, multiple conversations take place on Twitter at any given time. When you send out a tweet, those followers who happen to look at their screen at the Twitter cocktail party will see what you post.

Why should you care?

Personally, I just want to know if my impressions are on par with other social media freaks users. If I’m tweeting for a client or boss, I need to be able to show how the organization’s tweets measure up against the competition. Unfortunately, when it comes to impressions, I found very little data for comparison. Thank you, Danny Sullivan, for your post, Just Like Facebook, Twitter’s New Impression Stats Suggest Few Followers See What’s Tweeted.

If you use social media for your job or company, you need to know if your efforts are paying off. If your main goal is to reach a wide audience, you need to know how many Twitter impressions are served.

Retweets, clicks, and replies, oh my

It’s important to track more than impressions, though. Social media isn’t just a promotional tool.

If you want people to visit pages that you share, pay attention to URL clicks. If you consistently use only one tool, like Hootsuite, to share your content, you can use it to track clicks. If, like me, you switch between various apps, like Buffer and TweetDeck, then you’ll want to use Twitter’s numbers to get an accurate measure of how many times people follow a link that you share. My tweets get an average of 2.7 clicks. About 27 people click on my links every time I post 10 tweets.

If you want to share ideas and links that are worth sharing, pay attention to your retweets. My status updates are retweeted an average of 0.7 times. For every 10 messages I post, I can expect seven retweets. I think that’s a very low number, so I’m working to improve that. A few of my tweets received hundreds of RTs, but I’ve excluded those abnormalities for the this post. More on that later.

If you want to start conversations, pay attention to replies. My tweets get an average of 0.2 replies. I can expect two replies to every 10 tweets that I share.

About the data

The median number of impressions for my tweets was 379. That’s probably a better representation of how many times a tweet of mine is typically shown. If we use that count for the calculations, my Twitter impression rate dips down to 5.4%.

My calculations for impressions are based on 7,000 followers. I had  6,752 followers on October 25, 2013, the date of the earliest tweet in the Twitter report. On the day of the last tweet, October 22, 2014, I had 7,152 followers.

The title of this post isn’t completely accurate. It wasn’t necessarily 8% of my followers who saw my tweets. Non-followers also could have seen my tweets when they conducted a Twitter search. It’s also likely that some of those impressions were served to the same people more than once. I often revisit tweets that I find particularly interesting.

Of the 3,169 tweets that Twitter included in my report, I deleted 842 before crunching the numbers:

  • 822 tweets were replies to other users. Replies are only seen by me, the person to whom I send the reply, and our mutual followers. Including those tweets would have shifted the number of impressions down considerably.
  • Fifteen tweets were shown zero times, which seems erroneous, especially since some of those tweets received replies and were favorited by other people.
  • Five tweets earned more than 19,000 impressions, mostly because they were retweeted hundreds of times. That amount of impressions is much greater than any of my other tweets. Including those tweets would have skewed the numbers in a way that would have been less representative of my “normal” number of impressions.

What are your impressions?

If you found this post helpful, please share your data so that other people can get a better idea of what kinds of numbers to expect. Publish it on your blog. Share it on Twitter or Facebook. Leave a comment below. Reach out to me on Twitter @ksablan.

One thought on “Twitter impression rate: only 8% of my followers see my tweets

  1. Hi Kevin,

    You may want to know that the calculations you’ve made may not be very accurate. That’s due to the fact that the impressions you see in Twitter Analytics include also the impressions from Twitter Search, not only from your followers. You can see an example on my blog on how I increased the reach of a tweet by (…) – a huge percentage (trying to avoid your anti-spam system). The total number of impressions for that single tweet was way much higher than my number of followers. (In order to make an accurate test, I selected a tweet without retweets).

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