The value of social networks, and specifically Twitter, in engaging with audiences is something all news organisations want to understand more about, so it was intriguing to hear Newsquest Digital MD Roger Green’s view on this at yesterday’s AOP Microlocal Forum.
Explaining how some of his group’s journalists, and notably Brighton’s Jo Wadsworth, have used Twitter to great effect, Green pointed to statistics around the ratio of followers to followees of individual journalists as a way of displaying their listening prowess.
Jo, unusually, has a higher number of followees (2,346) than followers (2,135) which, Green asserted, meant that she was always listening to the readers.
In a rather pointed criticism of the UK journalists with the large follower numbers (mainly, but not exclusively, at The Guardian), Green contrasted these as examples of people who ‘liked to talk rather than listen’.
Now I’m all for bosses bigging up their staff’s achievements (and in Jo’s case it’s certainly warranted as she does indeed use Twitter very effectively and is very responsive), however, I’m not sure that the follower/followee ratio does actually demonstrate the point Green was seeking to make.
Surely the best way to tell if someone is listening is to see if they reply (and in Jo’s case she does) therefore looking at the number of RTs and @ replies to people would seem to be a more effective measure – something it’s easy to see on the public timeline but I’ve not seen demonstrated in statistical form.
My personal experience is that, once my followee number passed the Dunbar’s number, it became more tricky to effectively monitor all tweets, although the @ and DMs are still, thankfully, manageable and #tags and lists were surely invented to help us all keep track and participate effectively.
I’d be interested to hear how other people measure their activity in this area? Do you compare follower/ee ratios? What is the best measure for engagement? And most importantly, readers – how do we do?