I was just reading about a Twitter study from the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany where they concluded that the number of Twitter followers you have is not so important. The study goes onto explain that the number of retweets (reposting what someone else just said) and mentions (using the @ and a users name) is more important.
Here’s my take on the subject (comment on the post I just read) :
Yes, the number of Twitter followers you have is important to a certain extent, because without followers you are only talking to yourself. But there are many other aspects that need to be considered to measure influence through Twitter. For example: retweets and mentions as discussed in the study, but also clickthroughs for links shared, favorited tweets, clickthoughs for the profile link, etc… so interaction.
If you understand SEO and web analytics, Twitter can be viewed in a similar way. The raw number of visitors to your site is not all that good at rating the success of a site. Your site can have millions of visitors, but are they helping your business any? Do you sell trail running shoes? 10 million hits for Shoes isn’t necessarily going to sell your running shoes. Even worse, if your getting traffic from something totally unrelated.
Furthermore, with Twitter you have to understand why you are using it before you can judge what “success” means. Someone like Ashton Kutscher most likely does not have the same goals as a company like Dell, or even the local Restaurant/Bar.
So, bottom line, and I’ve said this before, social media is about engagement and conversations. Plus, you need to have a plan so you when you get into social media and if you want to be able to judge your success.