Not a rant. Actual questions about the benefits of having lots of Twitter followers who probably aren’t listening to you. Those of you who think Twitter is pointless (hi, Mom!*) probably can’t help me out here, but maybe someone else can. Feel free to skip the ruminating and go right to the questions at the end, if you’d like.
I like Twitter. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s a great place to leave my strange thoughts without having to see the way people look at me when I say them out loud.
But I think I’m doing it wrong, at least according to many people. I don’t have a lot of followers. I’m not interested in having followers who aren’t going to read me, because what’s the point of talking to people who aren’t listening? I don’t follow many people for the same reason. I follow accounts that have something to offer, whether that’s interesting links, entertaining thoughts, great conversations, whatever. If you follow me, I’ll usually take a look at your account; if your stuff looks genuine and interesting, great! But if all you’re doing is promoting your book or service ten times a day or recycling the same tweets over and over, I’m not going to follow you back. Likewise, if I find someone interesting and follow them, I don’t expect them to reciprocate if they don’t like what I post. To me, it’s about the content, not the number of follows.
My questions are about people who are about the numbers, at least partially. Case study (which got me thinking about this): I’m following at least one person now who, every day, posts numbers of new followers and numbers of “sneaky” people who unfollowed him/her. I find it extremely annoying, but I can’t unfollow, because I don’t want to be accused of sneakiness.
My question is, why does it matter who unfollows us, unless we’re only looking for reciprocal follows? If someone unfollows me, I assume it’s because they aren’t getting what they want from my tweets (sorry it didn’t work out, thanks for trying me), or they only followed me to get me to follow them back, and I didn’t do it (don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Sweetie). Either way, they’re free to go, and it won’t affect whether I read their tweets or not.
There are apps/programs/whatever that will tell you whether people you’ve followed have followed you back, so you don’t have to keep following them if they didn’t follow you. (Still with me?) Obviously the assumption is that people are only following each other to get more followers, right? And I doubt very much that they’re actually reading each other. They’re either not reading anyone, or are using apps to filter out most of the thousands of accounts they’re following.
As far as I can tell, what we end up with is crowded stadiums full of people yelling their promotions and messages, but no one is listening to each other, even though it looks like they have a whole lot of people listening. It’s like those things you see on Facebook sometimes: Like my page and I’ll like yours, and we’ll all have a lot of likes, YAYS! Except that no one really cares about those pages, and they’re not actually paying attention to each other. They’re empty “likes,” just like these Twitter accounts are offering empty follows.
Am I wrong? Is there actually some benefit to following 5000 people and having 5000 followers when there’s no way you can actually read all of them, and they’re probably not reading you because they’re only following you to get more follows for themselves, which is the same reason you’re following them?
Are we all confused yet?
So tell me, Twitter people: Do you follow more accounts than you actually read? Do you use a program to filter out people you don’t want to read, and do you think that those un-read people still benefit from having you as a follower? (Honest question, I’m not accusing you of anything). Am I wrong, and people who follow 4000 accounts are actually looking at them all? Is it a big popularity contest that I’m losing by just looking for valuable content and a community I can connect with? Do you only follow people who follow you back?
I’ve purchased Kristen Lamb’s book “Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World.” Maybe it will answer some of these questions.
Just to clarify: I have nothing against people using twitter however they please. I’m just curious. 🙂
*Did I tell you my mom has a WordPress blog now? She’s pretty nice, if you want to stop by and say “hello.” 🙂