Do Twitter Followers Equal Sales?

Billboard’s Antony Bruno does an excellent job peering under the hood at Soulja Boy’s recent Nov. 30 album release which managed to shift 13,000 units, a surprisingly modest debut considering the artist has 2.5 million Twitter followers. Does this mean that Twitter’s ability to influence and drive sales is becoming less important? What about for other formats like country music?

Bruno notes that Soulja Boy is more of a singles artist than most, however his last album project (2008) sold about 45k first week units. So he asks, “Soujla Boy has 2.5 million Twitter followers, but how many are paying attention? It’s pretty easy to tune out Twitter feeds you’re no longer interested in without going through the trouble of actually dropping the account you’re following.”

“It certainly seems like he did all the right things: compiled a massive Twitter following, kept them engaged with regular posts, and then issued a call to action several times a day with direct access to buy the album,” Bruno continues. “So why the disconnect between 2.5 million people making the effort to follow Soulja Boy on Twitter, but only 13,000 buying the album?”

Unfortunately, finding a solid answer is problematic. Because there are very few country music artists with over 500,000 Twitter followers it’s difficult to draw direct Nashville comparisons with the Soulja Boy parable. However, sales and celebrity do not seem inseparable in the country music arena, either. Billy Ray Cyrus, for example has 507,401 Twitter followers and engages fans with regular, if not prolific updates. Unfortunately, despite a legion of Twitter followers, Cyrus does not have an album listed in the current Top 200. Dolly Parton is the 2nd highest ranked on MusicRow’s country artist Twitter chart with 843,136 followers, but that has not translated into Top Ten CD sales for her either. Then there are artists like Taylor Swift (4.86 million Twitter followers), Kenny Chesney (604,160) and Lady Antebellum (224,556) whose sales continue to place them at the top of the charts despite regardless of having dramatically fewer followers than Soulja Boy.

If there is a conclusion to be drawn it might appear that making the decision to follow or friend someone can be based upon a wide variety factors that may not include purchasing the artist’s music. As marketing guru Seth Godin says, “The problem with browsers is that they rarely buy anything.”

Perhaps the next level of social network marketing will address finding ways to convert lookers to buyers, saying simply, “Quit looking and go buy something already.”

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Category: Artist, Featured, Sales/Marketing

About the Author

David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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