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The GOP on Twitter: They've Got Followers. But Do They Have an Audience?

BY Matthew Burton | Friday, October 2 2009

We can actually answer these questions. Twitter's API and robust URL shorteners make it easy. The below is by no means a scientific study: I chose a few tweets from four most popular representatives on Twitter (all Republicans) and dug a little deeper:

-Joe Wilson has over 12,000 followers. Of six tweets with URLs (bit.ly is his shortener of choice), those URLs got 108, 415, 236, 109, 43, and 227 clicks, for a range of .3% to 3% of his followers. Fewer than 2% of his tweets are replies to other users.

-John Culberson has almost 13,000 followers. Of four tweets with URLs (also a bit.ly user), he got 72, 128, 346, and 243 clicks: a range of .5% and 2.6% of his followers. 56% of his tweets are replies to other users: sensational. A model public servant.

-Eric Cantor has 15,000 followers. He uses TinyURL, so we can't see his clickthrough stats. 3.7% of his tweets are replies.

-John Boehner has over 10,000 followers. Out of 4 URLs, he got 35, 20, 67, and 189 clicks: .2% to 1.8% clickthrough rate. 1.8% of his tweets are replies.

Imagine a marketing campaign that never cracked 4% penetration, and usually hovered around 1%. That's junk mail territory.

Republicans might be using Twitter a lot more than Democrats. But that doesn't count for anything unless they're getting something more out of it than simply the attention of geeks. Republicans have the followers, which gives them a good opportunity. But right now, they aren't making anything of it.