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But a simple look at the growth in follower numbers on Sky News reporters’ Twitter feeds shows that they were growing significantly faster before they were hamstrung by the edict from their bosses.
The timing of this is extraordinary. All the evidence suggests Twitter is currently making the leap into the mainstream. This week, a new report from Fishburn Hedges showed the percentage of people who say they engaged with a brand on social media doubled to 36% in just eight months between August 2011 and April 2012. And Twitter just announced it has 10m “active users” in the UK, who sign in at least once per month.
This is a time that all kinds of brand and organisation needs to be embracing Twitter, not shunning it.
I looked at five staffers with over 1,000 followers on Twitter. I used Twittercounter to look back at how their Twitter follower numbers changed over the past six months. The findings tell a compelling story.
The five journalists I looked at were Neil Mann (@fieldproducer), Emily Purser (@EmilyPurserSky), Peter Spencer (@PeterSpencer), Hazel Baker (@HazelBakerSky) and Ruth Barnett (@RuthBarnett). Two of these five, Neil Mann and Ruth Barnett, announced one month after the new guidelines came into force that they were leaving Sky News.
The first chart shows the daily average rate of new followers on Twitter for each staffer. The blue bar in each case is the average daily new followers count based on the three months before the new guidelines came into force. The green bar shows the growth rate after the new guidelines, measured as a daily average over three months. In the cases of Mann and Barnett, I measured this second average over just one month because their growth rates were significantly affected by their decisions to leave Sky News. I looked at that separately.