Twitter Tumbleweed Watch

Dave Karpf:

But that number — 42,000 Twitter followers — has begun to seem hollow. When I tweet something, it isn’t actually viewed by 42,000 individuals. It’s seen by the subset of those 42,000 people that happen to be staring at Twitter’s chronological timeline at the time I send the tweet, plus anyone who is shown the tweet through Twitter’s algorithmic timeline. And that reduced-megaphone turns out to be a lot less irreplaceable.


I didn’t reach 42,000 people by tweeting my article. I reached less than 3,000 people. And that has been pretty consistent. Unless I write something spicy that gets a lot of retweets, the view-counter tells me I’m reaching 2,000-3,000 people.

I am not sure there is anything new or notable here. I checked analytics for my own tweets going back about a year, over which time I have had about the same number of followers. There is little specific consistency in the number of views a given tweet will receive. Months-old tweets of mine with no likes or retweets have racked up higher view counts than other seemingly more popular tweets. The view count is often between 10–20% of my total number of followers when there are some likes but no retweets. Karpf’s is a lower proportion of his total followers, even with 14 retweets and 23 likes, but not radically so.

I have seen this article being shared widely today, but I am not sure there is any news here. Tweet view counts being nowhere near the follower count is as surprising as email open rates which are a fraction of a total subscriber base. However, now that view counts are public, it is possible to keep an eye on the reach of popular accounts over time.