Twitter Numbers; What The Hey?
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 16, 2011
I’ve been on Twitter almost 3 years now. When I first joined, if a person had a lot of followers they had just under 20,000 people. Now if you don’t have followers into the hundreds of thousands, you’re pretty much considered a loser.
I guess I’m a loser. I have around 2,700 followers, and I’m following just over 1,000 people at the same time. In general, I’m thinking that’s not a bad ratio, and for the most part I’m okay with those figures.
For the most part, that is. I get a lot of requests each day from people I’ve never heard of saying they’re following me and giving me the option of following them. Actually, I guess it’s more accurate to say Twitter sends me these messages. What I do is look through almost every one of them to see what these people are all about, and how they communicate with others.
You know what? For the most part they’re junk. I mean, sometimes you have a profile that had lots of messages with fewer than 10 words. Sometimes they’re only quotes; often they’re just sales messages. Most of the time they’re links or retweets. That’s certainly a lot of Twitter blather.
Nothing really wrong with that, I guess, but is it, well, social? Actually, let me go back and say there is something wrong with it. Something I don’t like is that I know that most of these people are automatically signing up with each other and not looking at anyone who’s following them. They may not ever even go to Twitter and read any messages; they may not ever respond to anyone who sends them a message. Instead, they just hook up with everyone else and end up with some fantastic numbers.
What kind of numbers? I regularly am being contacted by people with at least 5,000 people following them. Often I have people with more than 20,000 others following them. And you know what? Some of those have never even posted a single message; what the hey?
I’d be jealous if I really thought these people were popular. One of those interesting things is that these people end up with very high Klout scores, and maybe that’s one reason I’m not trusting Klout at all. I wish I could remember who did it, but one guy actually set up a false account with software and did an experiment where it automatically not only went out searching for people to follow but automatically followed anyone who followed the account. Within a week his new account had over 5,000 followers, and it hadn’t send out a single tweet. And that account’s Klout score was over 65; it was amazing.
He then set up the account to automatically start posting messages, which were all links, and within 3 days the follower count increased to 7,000, and at the end of the week the Klout score was around 75.
Frankly, if it’s that easy to game the system, I’m not sure I want to deal with it. Sure, I want more influence, but at what cost? Is one being influential if they’re actually talking to no one? And if one’s posts are being retweeted but none of those people are ever stopping to check out the links, then are you really influential or just feeling a false sense of the word?
By the way, this isn’t a Twitter bash. I have lots of fun on Twitter, and I know that by posting my blog links to it from time to time that I’ve encouraged people to stop by my blogs for a quick visit here and there. I will say, though, that I lament much of the technology that’s made it kind of a mess here and there by people who could care less.