Over the past few months, too much energy has been wasted over who is following whom on Twitter.
Part of the problem is that this is a petty argument that makes me want to throw things at people’s heads, but more importantly, I just have to point out the fact that it is an irrelevant conversation.
Sure, follower counts make us feel good. Sure, we like it when someone internet famous follows us back, but the reality is that there is little correlation between someone following you and that person seeing anything you do.
And if I am even half right here, then I can’t figure out why we worry about this (and more to the point, why the hell am I even writing this…).
Well, since I’ve already broached the subject and am indulging this utterly insane topic, I might as well keep digging and offer a reason why…
Power, Productivity and Noise
Once you get over a few hundred followers it becomes impossible (or at least unproductive) to search for the signal in the noise. Most, if not all, power-users quickly end up creating a few lists before inevitably honing in on one or two that truly add value to their lives.
Considering many of these lists are private, you often won’t even know if someone is really paying any attention to you.
Confession time. A while back, I almost entirely stopped following people back on Twitter. I’ve never really mentioned it before now because 1) it seems petty to talk about and 2) it doesn’t friggin’ matter. Since I’ve decided to out myself as the asshole who probably isn’t going to follow you back, let me tell you why.
It isn’t because I think Twitter is unmanageable, it isn’t because of spam and it isn’t because I think I’m better than you. It is because I literally never look at my stream of followers. It’s too overwhelming and there is just too much crap. If we talk and you interest me, you’re probably on a list.
Sure this is my own damn fault for taking a back-asswards approach to building up a following at the very beginning, but it doesn’t make any sense to waste my time trying to start over by unfollowing everyone and beginning anew. What I am doing now is working fine, even if my follower count isn’t remotely reflective of my usage.
Lessons from a Backass
If you want to get a feeling for how someone is using Twitter, or any social network for that matter, look at what they are writing, what they are sharing and who they are responding to. It is the best indication you can get of what matters to them through these tools.
Follower count is one thing and one thing only: a vanity metric. Focus your energy on the crap that actually matters… Who do you really know? Who have these tools helped you get closer to? Who do you actually speak to online? Stop looking for followers and start making connections.
Focus your energy on hitting the reply button rather than the follow. Take a legitimate interest in what others are saying and add value where appropriate. Know why? Because you might get a reaction. And isn’t a reaction infinitely better than an obligatory follow back?
Well, I’m off to throw up in my mouth a bit and to write something far less depressing (and hopefully a little more useful). In the meantime, let the irrelevant and obligatory examination of this useless topic begin!