Twitter: it's not about size, it's about reach

I saw this story on a Hollywood news site earlier today. It’s basically an article dissing Twitter for not being as big or effective a marketing vehicle as some have cracked it up to be:

Why was everyone in the movie business so excited about Twitter? Probably because of its potential, more than anything. The speed and the scale of word-of-mouth on Twitter seemed to manifest a terrifyingly powerful tool, one in which Hollywood was unprepared for.

The actual reality has been something less.

Surveying 1,500 moviegoers last September, research firm OTX found that as a source for word-of-mouth about films, Twitter actually lagged far behind rival social-streaming platforms such as Facebook and MySpace, as well as just basic interaction with family, friends and co-workers.

via The Twitter Effect Isn’t What Hollywood Thought |

But the article misses the point. Right now, and for all of its life to date, Twitter has not been the biggest social network, or social news network, or news sharing space … whatever you want to call it.

But Twitter has two things going for it:

  1. You saw it first here
    Twitter is where news breaks … it’s always on Twitter first, before it’s on any other social network, or most news sites.
  2. Reach is more than size
    How many people you reach is much more important than the simple size your network. If you’re connected with just 5 people, but each of them re-tweets your messages to 500 more … you have a lot of reach. Because of this viral nature that is fundamentally different than Facebook or MySpace … Twitter users have far more potential (and in many cases actual) reach.

The potentially confusing thing is that a large art of that reach is actually on Facebook, MySpace, and other social platforms … because many Twitter users will allow their updates to flow through the internet to all their other online accounts. I personally get far more comments on Facebook on my Twitter postings than I do on Twitter … so anyone who heard of something from me probably heard it “on Facebook,” even though it was originally posted on Twitter.

So while I’m not trying to be a Twitter apologist or fanboy … there are some significant factors to consider when estimating the value of interacting in the various forms of social media.