Is All Attention Good Attention? (Or, How One TV Personality Increased Their Twitter Followers 20,000% in 24 Hours)

Posted on Posted in Social Media
A public address. From the user master alarm on Flickr.
A public address. From the user master alarm on Flickr.

There’s an old adage web marketers love to follow: “all attention is good attention.” In the marketing and advertising worlds, any attention to a brand is traditionally thought to help the brand out. After all, it brings the company into the spotlight, so more people hear about it and eventually buy their products… right?

We all know how dangerous assumptions can be. So, recently, I was able to test the aforementioned publicity theory. Last week, a television personality for one of the biggest news organizations in the world said something controversial on-air, and using publicly available data, I was able to track the sentiment and overall effect to his Twitter account. Because Twitter has become a central hub for the current generation to voice their concerns and complaints, it was a great method to understand how the general public felt about this news celebrity.

Now, the two main metrics that I wanted to track were new followers and mentions over a 24 hour period, starting when the person first made the comments. Whereas follower growth is pretty black and white (an increase in followers is good, a decrease is bad), mentions are a bit more of a grey area. Some of the mentions can just be people linking to articles about this person, others can be a upbeat show of support, while even more can be a harsh attack.

So, let’s dive in. On an average day, this personality gains approximately 30 new followers  and receives 30 mentions per day. Let’s discuss how they fared on the day of controversy.

On top of being featured in 400+ articles on Google News, reacted to by dozens of celebrites (including a powerful negative reaction from LeBron James), and becoming a worldwide social media trending topic for a little over 24 hours, this personality received strong responses on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, as is common practice nowadays, when people want to voice their thoughts and opinions, they take to the social web. Therefore, Twitter is a great way to track the sentiment and response to any big event or controversy. In summary, it’s a perfect test case for the old saying, “all publicity = good.”

With the back story covered, what were the results for this personality’s Twitter account?

On March 23rd, he received 6,086 new followers and 56,700 mentions. Respectively, this was a 20,186% and 188,900% growth increase compared to this user’s normal daily averages of 30 new followers and 30 mentions.

The public personality's Twitter statistics for his "good" day.
The public personality's Twitter statistics for his "good" day.

Strangely enough, the growth continued for a few days after the talk of the controversy dissipated. Check out the below chart to see the growth to this personality’s page starting on March 24th, the day after the controversial quote. As you can see–despite the large drop-off in followers on the sixth day–the growth was still well above the pre-hoopla averages of 30 and 30.

Chart showing the Twitter growth again.

Now for the big question: While the follower growth was positive, was the effect entirely beneficial? That’s a more subjective question. Looking at responses to this user’s latest tweet, three of the five reactions were negative, with the other two being neutral.  Conversely, however, the user did gain a ton of followers, and the growth lasted for a few days.

QoD: Is all publicity good publicity?

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