Twitter Followers are like Lovers

Actually they’re also like steak, haircuts and ideas – there’s no point in having a lot of them if they suck (well – maybe not the lovers…) I write this post because my brother in law to be recently asked me what I thought of one of those automated Twitter follower services; you know – the ones that promise to get you a million followers by lunchtime.  Eric runs a growing Real estate business in Los Angeles and we recently hooked him up with a Social Media integrated website - he’s been blogging and tweeting diligently for the last few months and like everyone else is concerned with the number of Twitter followers he has.

The thinking goes that if one follower is good then 2 followers are better; if you’re tweeting about your business then the more followers you have the more likely it is that someone will see your information.  And yes – to some extent this is true and from that perspective it makes sense to sign up with these services and grow your base – however…

Both Alex and I have been using Twitter since 2007, my @andrewmccluskey account started on 10/08/07 and now has 877 followers.  I have never used an automated follower service, neither has Alex and we were chatting about this the other day.  Aside from the fact that many of these services over the years have turned out to be nefarious organizations that take your login information to send out spam tweets to your user base (and you’d be amazed by how many “smart” people fall for it,) there’s something fundamentally flawed behind the mass growth strategy.

There’s a great post from Anil Dash on the impact of having hundreds of thousands of twitter followers and what that actually meant to how his information was getting distributed.  In essence his point is that there is really no point in having many followers unless those people were truly interested in you in the first place.  In terms of getting your message out and stimulating interaction – it’s the quality of followers that counts – not the number.

We’re going to have a look at some of these services over the coming months and see if any are actually worthwhile.  There is some sense to having a service that identifies tweets that reflect keywords of interest & suggests followers but both Alex and I shy away from the automatic follow.  When we looked at our behavior, if we’re considering following someone we will check out their profile, read through their most recent tweets and often check out their website before we choose to follow.  Without going through that process you dramatically increase the signal to noise ratio of your twitter stream and who needs that?

Bottom line for small businesses - if you’re producing a business relevant stream then people looking for your type of business will find you.  If you’re writing “sticky” tweets then people are going to re-tweet them anyway – it’s the quality over quantity concept all over again.

There’s a word for people who focus on the superficial and short term benefits of social media measurements such as number of Twitter followers – broke!  Focus on the quality of your output and the quantity of your followers will grow naturally – and most importantly to your business they’ll be genuinely interested in what you have to say.

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