Recently, I’ve had quite a few people ask me how to get more Twitter followers and came across many ranting about how no one is following them. Apparently, these days even interviewers are asking for number of Twitter followers as a qualifier for social media-type jobs. Add to the mix, our intrinsic human nature to be competitive even about meaningless contests for some real (or mostly perceived) gain, and voila, we have an explanation for the growing obsession with number of followers/friends/connections on various social media sites.
In the real world, it’s all about money and materialistic things but in the online world, it has become a contest over who can get more followers, even when the quality of the followers and so-called ‘friends’ is highly suspect. To help the number-obsessed Twitterati, there are tools that help track Twitter followers, measure your Twitter ‘grade’ and there are folks who have figured out how to game the system and will even help you out with tips.
If you look at the folks in the Twitter top 100, you’ll find that many are real-life celebrities and their offline achievements make them worthy of adulation. On the other hand, there are very well-known folks like Seth Godin who are not even on Twitter.
Given that my real job involves metrics and measurement, I get it. Yes, numbers are important and they do matter. Say for example you’re a blogger, having a large number of subscribers is critical for getting ad revenue and garnering more exposure for your blog. Same for a company, larger the number of folks who follow you, more opportunity for you to spam… er…pitch your products to them. But padding your follower count just for the heck of it, isn’t very smart or best use of your time.
Don’t forget that many Twitter power-users make a living off social media-related activities such as platforms, tools, consulting etc. They spend a ton of time building their network on social media networks and they should, given that’s their job. But that’s not realistic for many regular Joes/Janes with jobs that require them to actually do some work that doesn’t involve a social media site.
I can see making more money or being a better parent or world peace might be a commendable life goal (although the first one is iffy), but what does having 10,000 followers on Twitter really get you? Does it make you more happier than the guy with 9,999 followers? Does that somehow make you smarter or more of a celebrity? Twitter has millions of users but zip to show for revenue, so what does that tell you? Numbers can’t buy you happiness. Heck, it can’t even get you a sustainable revenue model.
Here’s a suggestion, STOP obsessing about your follower count and start connecting/engaging with the folks who already follow you. And if growing your Twitter follower count is still your life goal, do as Benjamin Franklin once said,
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
In other words, give people a legitimate reason to follow you. If all folks see in your Twitter stream is monologue about your personal life, they’ll probably be turned off. So unless you have an extremely entertaining personal life and can give the reality shows a run for their money, you might also want to rethink what you tweet.
This holds true for real life as well as in our new social media world, it’s not about surrounding yourself with random people but being around people who actually matter. So, next time someone asks you about your Twitter follower count, take a deep breath and tell them straight up - it’s the quality of Tweets and Tweeples that really counts not quantity.