It still happens all the time – the “follow me back!” requests that tell you the person following you is after a reciprocal follow, rather than following you for the value of your tweets. But there are also those who are being leaders.
Pete Cashmore at Mashable, one of the 39 people/companies I follow, has 2, 286,282 Twitter followers. That’s over two MILLION people following his tweets that share cutting-edge technology, social media news and information. In return, he follows 2,238 others.
The company Best Buy, who I do not follow but who, “promises to give you the latest and greatest from Best Buy, including updates from employees, deals, event notices, and more,” follows only 529 tweeters and has 213,988 followers.
And the frequent but fleeting follows that I receive for a few days (or hours) and then disappear when I don’t immediately reciprocate include accounts with 10,000+ followers and sometimes only a single tweet. (See my 9/2010 post ”And I follow back – Does Size Matter with Twitter Followers?”)
10,000 followers with only a single tweet and not even a custom avatar? What is the value in that?
Keep your follow number small to keep up on information you want
I suppose for some it is the prestige of saying that they have 10,000 followers, or 5000, or whatever the number is that must make these tweeters feel like they have accomplished something by getting to that number through a strategy of following someone and then asking for reciprocal links. But from my own experience with my Twitter stream, and from reading the recent developments about how the news of Bin Laden’s death broke first on Twitter, I see a good reason why avoiding the instant reciprocal link strategy and following only a small, hand-picked group of people on Twitter is very beneficial: you can actually follow what is being tweeted, and share or act on the information you read.
At this moment, there are 34 tweets in my Twitter stream that go back two hours. I can’t imagine how many I would have in just one hour if I followed over a hundred people, or 500, or 1000. By being particular about who I choose to follow, I am able to be strategic in the information I want to receive via Twitter. Whether it is technology, social media, science or flyfishing, by following only those twitterers who deliver me interesting information that I can use, I can make good use of my time when I check the Twitter stream.
It’s kind of like surrounding yourself with few close friends and sharing interesting topics and learning experiences, rather than trying to be friends with anyone and everyone and hope you happen to get some good information transfer in there somewhere.
For me, following less than 50 twitterers works because I can check the stream and see what is important to me. Plus, I am better situated to re-tweet the information with those who are interested in following what I have to say and share. Someone who has 10,000 followers and is following over 10,000 others doesn’t impress me. But someone who has 10,000 followers and follows under 100 must be as choosy about their time and what they read as I am. Those with a very, very low ratio of following to followers are usually the influencers and the leaders in their field.
(Check out Twitaholic.com for interesting numbers on the Twitter users with the highest number of followers and how many they follow in return. Excluding celebrities, the companies at the top of the list that stand out for their low following/follower ratio are Twitter, CNN, the New York Times and Google.)
You do have a choice
To summarize, you can’t choose who follows you, but you CAN choose who you follow, and how many. By being choosy, you can have a better grasp on the information you see when you check your Twitter stream. Maybe now is the time to go through your follow list and see who can be weeded out.
Do you follow over 500 people on Twitter and find good use for a Twitter stream that large? I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions on how you do it and how much time you spend on Twitter.