What do 2.5 million Twitter followers get you? If you're Soulja Boy, it gets you a barely tepid 13,000 in first-week sales of your new album and a debut at No. 90 on the Billboard 200. "The DeAndre Way" sold 2,000 digital copies and 11,000 physical in the United States, according to SoundScan, in the week following its Nov. 30 release. His last album, "iSouljaBoyTellem" (2008), sold 45,000 the first week -- 2,000 digital and 43,000 physical.
Now to be fair, Soulja Boy is very much as singles artist. "Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)" was the 14th best-selling digital song of all time with more than 4.6 million downloads. But even the first single from "The DeAndre Way" -- "Pretty Boy Swag" -- didn't stack up, with 590,000 downloads since it first went on sale in June. Track sales from the new album total 718,000.
So does this below-expected outing mean that Twitter follower stats are becoming as meaningless as MySpace friend stats have become? Hard to say just yet. Twitter remains an unparalleled channel of fan communication, as evidenced by the dominance by music acts in the top 10 most re-Tweeted Tweets of the year, which were recently unveiled by the company.
But it does raise a few questions. Sure, 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. But Twitter won't share any data on the average number of feeds dropped in a given timeframe.
Soulja Boy, however, is a bit harder to ignore on Twitter than others. He seems to averages between 15-20 Tweets a day. On Nov. 30, the day "The DeAndre Way" dropped, he posted almost 70 Tweets, about 20 of which were related directly to the album and its availability, many of which included a link to iTunes.
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. 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?
It is possible, of course, fans just didn't like the music. But it seems odd so many people would follow him without having some predisposition to buy his work. Did he use Twitter the wrong way by posting too much? Has Twitter just grown so large that it's getting harder to rise above all the noise taking place on the platform?
Which brings us back to the original question -- what does 2.5 million Twitter followers really get you? E-mail your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.