More Retweets Lead to More Twitter Followers, Right?

Being a moderately analytical marketer, I should be pretty smart about assuming a correlation between two events that might not necessarily exist. And yet, for the past few years, I’ve foolishly done the opposite. Below is a chart of my Twitter follower growth from Followerwonk over the past 60 days:

The spikes are probably days when I’ve sent some awesome tweets that went viral and reached a lot of new folks who then clicked the “follow” button. What else could they be, right? What could cause large numbers of new followers if not highly successful tweet content?

Thing is, I’ve been getting very suspicious about this connection lately, so I decided to look at my most retweeted tweets over the last two months and compare it to the Wonk chart. Have a look:


If the chart above is too small, you can click here to see a larger version.

The results seem pretty clear. At least for the past 60 days, there appears to be virtually no connection between days of high follower growth and days of highly retweeted tweets. Perhaps shockingly, during some of those spikes, there are days when I’ve barely sent any tweets at all! The social media marketer in me is ready to pull his hair out with puzzling frustration.

In fact, the only day I can connect to any specific event is August 28th, when I spoke in front of several thousand marketers at Hubspot’s Inbound conference. That likely resulted in a higher than normal follower growth, but the other high growth rate days (August 20th, 22nd and 31st, September 10th and 21st, and October 3rd, 4th and 11th) don’t have any remarkable events to which I can connect them. Moreover, the days when I experienced very strong retweets are actually among the lower follower growth rate days.

My takeaway from this highly unscientific, tiny sample size study is A) I really need to stop assuming I know what correlates with growing a Twitter account and B) I need more data. I haven’t been able to find a study that shows what metrics/activities correlate well to high growth rates of Twitter followers (nor Facebook fans/likes, nor Google+ encirclers). There’s some other interesting Twitter studies out there (e.g. Beevolve’s, Dan Zarrella’s), but the specifics of growth rate for accounts is yet to be tackled (at least from what I could find). Maybe I can ask Peter & the Wonk team to look into this. If you know of any research like this, or are seeking a project that would earn a lot of links/shares/respect in the marketing world, please do share!