The magic formula for figuring out how many people should be talking about you online…

We’re doing some social media monitoring for a client who had never done anything in the space before so they had no benchmarks to work from. We didn’t know what a ‘normal’ level of buzz would be and because Twitter data doesn’t go back more than a couple of weeks there was no reliable way to backtrack. I figured the best thing to do was figure out how many active Twitter users there are in Australia and then look at how many of those would be likely to tweet about our client on any given day.

Here’s my working out (bit like a high school maths test really, I sucked at those though). The results are quite important I think, and could be applied to any business:

  • There are about 17,000,000 Internet users in Australia (source: Internet World Stats)
  • Of those, 13% actively updated their Twitter account (ie. ‘Tweeted’) in 2009 (source: Nielsen 2010 Social Media Report)
  • Which is 2.2 million twitter users in Australia (not visitors, USERS, the distinction is very important as not every visitor to Twitter has an account)
  • But of all Twitter users, about 50% don’t really update their account very often (source: HubSpot)
  • So that’s about 1.1 million Australians actively using Twitter
  • There is a widely accepted rule that 1% of any online community will actively contribute to it with gusto and another 9% are likely to contribute from time to time. (source: Jakob Nielsen – he is one of the world’s most respected web usability consultants).
  • As Jakob Nielsen writes: “1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions: it can seem as if they don’t have lives because they often post just minutes after whatever event they’re commenting on occurs.
  • 9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time.”
  • Based on that estimate, there are about 11,000 Australian Twitter users who would be highly likely to update their status to mention any given brand if they had an experience worth mentioning. They’re the same sort of people who would, by nature, actively contribute to other forums as well. As a proportion of the Australian population, that’s  0.04%
  • It’s also likely that there are 99,000 Australian Twitter users who would be somewhat likely to update their status to mention any given brand if they had an experience worth mentioning. As a proportion of the Australian population, that’s  0.43%.

So how can you use those figures to benchmark your business? Easy – work out how many products you sell (or services you deliver) over any given time period and you could expect that 0.04% of that figure will mention you and 0.43% of that figure might mention you in Twitter, or on their favourite social network of choice.

Try it, see if it works, I’d be keen to know!

7 responses to “The magic formula for figuring out how many people should be talking about you online…

  1. Hi – a little late to the party on this post (I was looking for something else and it came up in a search), Tribalytic (http://tribalytic.com) is focussed exactly on the problem you describe – we track around 150K Australian Twitter users and have a fully indexed history for them you can search to get a benchmark of activity.

    We currently only make 3 months of this history available online.

    Our blog (blog.tribalytic.com) has some of our user calculations on how many users we think there are for Twitter, and how engaged they are.

    Hope this was useful.

    Cheers,

    Tim

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