Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Wrong Audience
June 5, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Networking/Social Media, Thoughts, Twitter

A disturbing new trend has been popping up in Twitter. The onset of these so-called auto-follow opt-in Twitter follower increase services. They’re everywhere it seems – helping you increase your followers so you can have big numbers.

For what?

Ever since Twitter has become popular due to celebrity use and mention on TV, it seems like there’s this mad rush for lots and lots of followers. Everyone wants to know how to get more people to follow them. As a result, these services such as TweepMe and Twit Pro Quo have surfaced, offering to “build a diverse and well rounded group of followers” for you and help you get a  “good jumpstart on a new Twitter account with a nice set of followers”.

But step back for a minute and ask yourself this: what are you trying to accomplish on Twitter? And what is having 4,000 completely random people, with whom you’ve never built any kind of relationship, following you going to accomplish? Or is this simply becoming some sort of ridiculous high school popularity contest. “Look at me, I have 8,000 followers!” So what? Do they even care what you have to say? It seems about as silly as a meatball salesman giving a presentation at a vegan conference. Wrong audience.

The whole idea of quid pro quo when it comes to gaining followers kind of defeats the purpose of the conversational networking concept around which social network functions optimally. Seth Godin says, “What I really don’t like online is this superficial networking…all the thousands of people who show up friend-ing everybody else. Why? Right. It doesn’t count for anything it’s just a waste of time.”

Isn’t a large part of networking taking an interest in others and helping them reach goals? Why do we have to turn this into a “mine’s bigger than yours” competition, that is, number of followers. How many of those people do you think actually care about what you say…

Want to make your Twitter network rich and diverse? Don’t artificially pad your following with people who most likely don’t care and won’t listen. Communicate. Participate. Engage.


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great points, Amybeth. Thanks for sharing.

I would agree that reciprocal following is not ideal if you’re actually engaging in dialogue and conversation. If you’re just looking to market yourself and couldn’t care less about “listening” then this might make sense.

Of course some might argue that you can filter the dialogue. While this might work for some it’s important to realize that many of us are tweeting from multiple platforms. I, for instance, tweet from a laptop and a PC and a mobile device. Until an application stores my filters online, setting them up and keeping them updated is just not realistic.

My rule of thumb is that I’ll follow you if you’re interesting. If you’re engaging. Or if we’re having dialogue. But it’s my opinion that those worried about being rude by not returning follows automatically simply don’t have enough to worry about. Of course don’t get me started on the spam accounts 🙂

For what it’s worth… I did a little experiment recently with an X account and using auto-follow… It turned out that 80% didn’t care what was being said and only used auto DM’s and returns to sell me their wares and boost follower numbers. While it may make sense for some… it was worthless in regards to how I use and measure return on Twitter.

Great stuff, keep it coming!

Chris Hoyt

Comment by RecruiterGuy

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You nailed this one, Amybeth. I never understood having 1,200 Facebook friends or 4,000 Twitter followers. Where is the ROI- whether it be personal or professional?

Brian Batchelder

Comment by Brian Batchelder

I agree that value is in the community, not the numbers. Yet I don’t think it’s necessary to have a “relationship” with each and every Twitter follower. People follow and unfollow for various reasons. I try to follow people who are smart and interesting to me. I’m flattered when they follow back, but I don’t expect it. I talk to them when I feel like it, but mostly I just read. I block “junk” followers and am baffled as to why some people start following me. I’m more concerned about who I’m following than who is following me. I do not have a single “community” on Twitter. I have multiple interests and tweet about a lot of different things. I think of Twitter as a big social experiment, and I am having fun with it.

Comment by Jill Elswick

I appreciate that you chose to take on this topic. As Einstein said, “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

Comment by jcsicareerassist

For me Twitter and other social networking sites are about taking an interest in others, learning new tools and techniques and helping each other. I have “unfollowed” a lot of people who have blogs, white papers or articles that I really enjoy learning from and try to contribute to simply because I am really bored with the “retweets” that take forever to get through. I figure don’t tweet if you don’t have something to say that hasn’t already been said 3 times in the last few hours. There is a lot of repetition with twitter the same circles saying the same thing you don’t even know who is the one who came up with the idea to begin with. It tends to be annoying. How can you help someone with their goals if the majority of what they are saying on the social networks is redundant or the majority of their posts sound like they are telling you what to do or not do – it’s almost bossy and rude in a way. I am not a big fan of twitter for my work – it isn’t relevent “yet” but I enjoy using it.

Comment by Kathy Narvaez

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