The mass of Twitter critiques I’ve been doing this past week has been interesting in terms of the number of questions I’ve received about follower numbers and how users are perceived based on those numbers, what’s a good follower to followee ratio, etc etc.
It’s been almost a year now since I sent my first tweet and there’s something funny about numbers. People say they don’t care, but we all do. Maybe we don’t want the same numbers, but we all judge each other on them and want certain ones for ourselves. Some of us want to look important, some of us just want to update our friends. Some want to be engaging to a select few while others simply want a broadcast platform.
Below I’ve outlined the most popular number trends I’ve come across with initial impressions we all get. Don’t lie, you think it too:
The Celebrity has no need to follow back (or tweet, for that matter – this particular celeb hasn’t tweeted once) because they automatically accumulate followers and are added to lists. Lists of people waiting with bated breath for that first word.
The Autofollower is a tricky one to spot – you need an unhealthy amount of Twitter in your life to grasp the subtle traits. TAs are sneaky. You think they’re way more popular than they are just by looking at the numbers, but do you see the ratio of “following” to “followers”? That’s because they unfollow anyone that isn’t following them and vice versa – unfortunately this builds up a lot of spam. Another way to spot TAs is by their lists. Quality tweeters are listed at around one/tenth the amount of their number of followers (should be 718 for this tweeter). Read this awesome post for an alternate opinion on autofollowing.
The Online Celeb
Online celebs are popular like “real” celebrities, but they understand the importance of engagement. Some use autofollow programs, but most don’t need to look important. They already are. You can spot these guys by their high follower and list counts and lower followee numbers. The number of people they follow is usually impressive but only a small percentage of the people who are following their every word.
The Popular Blogger
Not big enough to be a celebrity, nowhere near small enough to be a newbie, The Popular Blogger is picky and likes to look that way. That, or they can’t possibly keep up with the demand (come back tomorrow for tips on managing your followers).
The Tentative Newbie
Tentative Newbies are easy to spot based on low numbers of both followers and followees. They almost always have less followers than the latter and are rarely listed. If you check out their Twitter stream, you’ll see infrequent tweets and engagement with the same two people over and over again.
This particular TN is actually going about the right way. You’ll see many newbies follow a thousand people at once, hoping for more followers, which is what I call….
The Desperate Newbie
I was The Desperate Newbie only 12 months ago. You’d think the more people you follow at once the more people will follow you, right? Wrong. Follow only 5-10 new people every day and engage with at least one of them (that’s advice I always give to my consulting clients). Size matter, baby, and when people see you follow so many tweeters without enough followers of you’re own, you’ll look a little desperate. No one likes desperate.
I wasn’t going to put my own numbers in this post, but figured that would be a cop-out, so here you go. I don’t think I have enough followers to be a Popular Blogger and I’d like to think I follow too many people for that anyway. I do, however, realize there’s a discrepancy.
Why is that? I get overwhelmed easily. Tomorrow I’m offering tomorrow specific tips on how to combat overwhelm, but nobody’s perfect.
I also recently did a Twitter cleanup and unfollowed people who hadn’t tweeted in the past week and users I just never ever engage with. I’m left with a good chunk of people I recognize, read, know and/or like to look at (I’m looking at you @SamJonesParry). Basically, I follow someone if there’s regular engagement and it doesn’t matter if they’re another blogger, random doctor or friend of a friend. We chat, I follow.
So what kind of tweeter are you? What kind of tweeter do you want to be?