Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Care About Twitter Follower Numbers

Why do we judge the quality of a tweeter by the amount of people they have following them? And why do we pay so much attention to our follower numbers? It is such crap, and here’s five reasons why.

1. Follower numbers are easily inflated.
Here’s how easy:

The follow/followback principle (you follow me, so I’ll follow you) is nice in theory – after all, it’s polite to follow someone who follows you – but it’s also a really easy way to quickly boost your follower numbers. You’ll recognise these people as the ones who follow you, then unfollow if you don’t reciprocate. They’ll probably follow you again tomorrow.

You can hit certain keywords, hashtags or magic bio words which cause bots to follow you. They’re fake followers, and there’s a lot of them.

You can create an army of accounts, and have them follow you. People do this for business reasons, or potential SEO reasons. It’s not as uncommon as you’d think.

Buying followers is also reasonably common. $100 and a credit card can see you gain 10,000 followers in a matter of minutes.

2. Follower numbers are not engagement numbers.
Are your followers actually hitting your website, buying your products, or using your services (if that’s your goal)? Are you getting retweeted or replies? That’s what counts on social. Measuring tools like Klout might be considered helpful, but really aren’t the be all and end all. Don’t look at a tweeter’s 50,000 followers and think that automatically translates to website UBs and sales – or even intelligent tweets.

One important factor: Lists. Just because someone has a lot of followers, does not mean those followers are ‘subscribed’. You may be on private lists which means you’re being ‘subscribed to’ without actually being followed – and vice versa! Follower numbers do not equal eyeballs to your messages.

Another factor is “speciality” – I don’t know a thing about cars, so if I advised my followers to buy a Mazda, they’d probably laugh at me. Jeremy Clarkson advises you to buy a Mazda, you nod in awe and buy a fricken Mazda. Even if I had more followers than Jeremy Clarkson, which do you think matters to Mazda? It’s not about follower numbers.

3. Investment in
This one is simple: The more time you spend on Twitter, and the longer you’ve been on, the more followers you’re bound to have. Some people can’t spend all day on Twitter, so naturally they’ll have fewer followers – unless they’re Carolyn3News – when is that woman going to tweet?

Sometimes it’s about quality, not quantity!

4. Maybe you’re not mainstream flavour
You’re a round peg and Twitter is a square hole. Who really cares? If you tweet heaps and that loses you followers, it’s not the end of the world. Just have fun and be yourself. You’ll never please everyone, and if you lose followers for it, then so be it.

Unless you’re publishing your foursquare updates to your feed. No one wants to see that shit.

5. Emotional well-being
Obsession with follower numbers is nothing but damaging. Your drive for followers is probably coming from some other unmet need. Want to be famous? Respected? Well-liked? Listened to? Answer that need and you’ll find your obsession with or friendorfollow will die off.

It is not a personal slight if someone you’ve never met thinks your 140 characters shouldn’t appear on a timeline of a social media tool they look at twice a week.

If you only have 100 followers and think that’s somehow a poor reflection on how lovely you are, think again. It’s not. There are some dipshits with thousands of followers out there.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a lot of followers. It’s human nature to want to be popular and liked. Just keep it in context.

And don’t get me started on Facebook friends.