Pew findings raise question: Do more tweets lead to fewer followers?

Project for Excellence in Journalism | Poynter

A new study by Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism reveals that several news organizations with rapidly growing Twitter followings actually sent the fewest tweets.

For example, Fox News sent only 48 tweets the week of Feb. 14-20, 2011 — among the fewest posted by the 13 news organizations studied — and its Twitter followers grew 118 percent between February and October. Huffington Post, ABC News and The New York Times were among the most prolific tweeters during the same week, and over the next nine months they had the smallest growth in Twitter followers. Here’s a chart that shows the numbers.

News organization # of tweets sent % growth in followers
Fox News 48 118
The Washington Post 664 100
MSNBC 33 86
The Wall Street Journal 104 71
CNN 90 71
Daily Caller 144 67
USA Today 205 66
NPR 232 64
Toledo Blade 184 51
The Arizona Republic 143 50
The Huffington Post 415 49
The New York Times 391 30
ABC News 316 18

The average number of tweets sent from a news org’s main account was 228. The top seven sites in follower growth all sent fewer than the average number of tweets, with one exception: The Washington Post sent out the most tweets during the period studied and saw its Twitter following grow 100 percent over the last nine months. Among the bottom six with the smallest growth in Twitter followers, all but two news orgs sent more than the average number of tweets.

The number of tweets sent is not the only factor affecting whether people follow or unfollow a Twitter account; effective engagement is a factor as well. As Jeff Sonderman reports, the Pew study found that Fox News used Twitter for engagement more than the other news organizations studied. It also had the largest growth in Twitter followings.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • WineHarlots

    Like everything in life, it’s all about balance.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but you’re comparing the number of tweets sent in one sample week with follower growth over nine months? That’s some serious junk statistics. The researchers chose the week they focused on specifically because there was very little major breaking news during that time span. However, all sorts of big news happened over the course of nine months that could have skewed followership in all manner of directions. The only way the correlation would be meaningful is if the sample periods are identical.

  • Douglas Crets

    So, wouldn’t the engagement be the leading indicator of a rise in followers? did the study only focus on the correlation that made the most sense, or was the easiest to describe? I think showing engagement in terms of numbers must be harder, since it’s more about quality. Also, it would be good to know the true impact or the footprint of those tweets sent out by Fox, to see how many of them caused an action or was RT’d on to other followers. There are ways to show this.