Thanks to agreements like BTFon with BT, SFR, Zon and other carriers and to the introduction of the Fonera 2.0n, Fon is now profitable. We now sell in one day what in January of this year we sold in a week. That is great news. But we still don’t have money to spend on advertising. We are only doing some advertising through partners. For example in Spain, we just launched the Fonera 2.0n in the chain PCcity . As a result we are featured in their advertising. But other than piggybacking cases like this Fon grows mostly on word of mouth. And in many cases Fon grows through the word of my mouth. These words are generally spoken on Twitter. It is because of this that I became curious in knowing “the second derivative” of Twitter. I wanted to know not just how many followers I have in Twitter but what is the sum total of the followers of my followers. I nedeed to find this out in order to measure my RT or retweet potential, something I call Twitter Reach. RT it is becoming a way of spreading news that is faster than Digg or other news amplifying sites. It is instantaneous. It is viral. And it is not the same to be followed by followers with very few followers themselves but by extremely popular bloggers. The latter give you more Twitter Reach.

I asked Javier Mares Romero from my team to help me find out, beyond my 7200 followers on Twitter, how many people could I possibly reach if I was retweeted by everyone who follows me. I know this is not realistic but that would set a maximum. I was shocked at the number: it is 12,828,899 people. To give you a sense of what that number means to Fon I share with you that after 3 years of hard labor we are now the largest global WiFi network, but, we only have 650,000 fonspots (T Mobile btw has less than 50K). But I know that almost all my followers and the followers of my followers have WiFi routers. So they are our target. This is the value of Twitter for Fon (how this is the value of Fon for Twitter deserves another post, it is still not clear to me).

Now obtaining this result was not easy because there is a limit on the number of data requests you can make on Twitter. To obtain this data we used a Python script with a Tweepy library functioning on a developer account. But somebody should look into this and come up with a real and easy Twitter Reach or Twitter Power measure. This index should show the number of followers of your followers. It would be also great if clients like Seesmic Desktop color coded followers according to the number of followers that they themselves have. I know you may think this is elitist but that is what Google does giving sites Google Rank. There clearly is a Google intellectocracy. We now have a Twitter one as well. It is just not that easy to rank and find with color codes. It would also be interesting to be able to send Tweets that go to groups of followers or at least to be able to sort them by language.

Here is a spreadsheet showing who my followers are and the number of followers of my followers. I was surprised when I saw the results not only because of the absolute total but because I had 79 followers with more followers than myself. I guess in Twitter it´s like in Tennis. You look better when you play with a pro, or in this case, when a pro listens to you.

Before ending I would like to say that in my Twitter history less than 10% of my tweets relate to Fon. Or if they do, like this post, they don´t directly relate to promoting Fon but to share with my followers, as I do with the readers of this blog, what I go through as an entrepreneur.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter:

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xabi on October 6, 2009  · 

Some days ago I tried a simple twitter experiment related to your post. I tweet this:

“Please retweet this with the counter increased by one. REEXP0001 (see for reason)”

The idea was to find how a message spreads on the twitter network. At the end of the experiment you only need to search twitter for “REEXP0001” to known how it goes in the first round. Then search for “REEXP0002” for second round …

What was the problem? I only have 78 followers and I’m not a influential person.

Why don’t you try it?


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Martin Varsavsky on October 6, 2009  · 

i think it´s too much to ask from my followers

Bernino on October 6, 2009  · 

Try this tool and see if the data correlates to your own findings – I am interested to know if its worth anything:


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Martin Varsavsky on October 6, 2009  · 

retweetrank is interesting, my concept is more useful for a business who is interested in numbers of potential consumers who may get a message

Fernando Plaza on October 6, 2009  · 

Creo que que no habéis tenido en cuenta que los followers están solapados, es decir, que gran parte de los Followers por ejemplo de Obama son a su vez followers de adventuregirl, por lo que no puedes sumarlos (aun así llegas mucha gente incluyendome a mi @fermatrix)

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Ouriel Ohayon on October 6, 2009  · 

Martin, try in the reach section. seems like a beginning

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Alan Michael on October 6, 2009  · 

Interesting stuff. It took me by surprise last week when a guy retweeted about one of my blog posts and I hit a massive wave of traffic. It was the busiest day by about four times over. There’s a lot of good to come from marketing on Twitter if you can leverage it. I guess it comes down to slinging tweets on the right ears and eyes!

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Martín Añazco on October 6, 2009  · 

Hi Martin! Please try
It measures your reputation based on your Twitter’s activity (ReTweets, content of the Tweet) but also on the degree of influence of those who ReTweet you as well (in a kind of PageRank way). And based on that we issue a currency (Whuffies) that measures your social capital/influence.
The project (a non-profit) was launched at TechCrunch 50 ( last month and was born in Argentina (todos los fundadores iniciales somos argentinos).

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Thibaut on October 6, 2009  · 

Reach is something, but the influence is another : how many followers can you “convince”, and how many of their own followers are convinced by them ?After all, one of your followers might Retweet you to make fun of your product ?
I’m sure you were juste playing with the numbers and the potential leverage effect, but a big part of the social media marketing stake is to study (and eventually measure) how people influence each other.

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Enrique R Felgueres Jr on October 6, 2009  · 

Hola Martin:

Algo similar a lo que tu buscas lo tiene Linkedin en la seccion de Network Statistics. Entiendo que Linkedin esta mas orientado a business networking , asi que cuando lo llevas al plano de social netowrking y de ahi lo conectas con un negocio, creo que el potencial es enorme, por lo que tu idea y comentarios me parecen geniales. De repente esta idea la podrias llevar a una oportunidad de negocio!!!!

Un abrazo desde Mexico,

Enrique R Felgueres Jr.

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gustavo on October 10, 2009  · 

estoy en el puesto 6091… nada mal eh 🙂

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nicolas guyon on October 19, 2009  · 

What about duplicates in the 12M people?

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