When I wrote the last post, ‘To follow, or not to follow – That is the question‘, I was completely oblivious about the fact that Twitter actually has enforced a new policy regarding how many people you can follow per day. According to the new policy, you can follow a maximum of 1000 new people per day.
In relation to this new policy, the awesome marketing blog DoshDosh posted a blog post titled ‘Twitter Marketing: Why You Don’t Need to Mass Follow Users‘ that details a few very valid points about why you don’t have to mass follow users.
If you want tons of followers on Twitter, you’re not alone. But here’s a secret: a small number of great followers is much more valuable than a herd of uninterested people.
Think about it this way: if you’re an accountant twittering about tax tips, what’s the point of having 1,000 followers if 999 of them are spam bots and war resistors who don’t file taxes? — Tim O’Reilly
When it all comes down to it, having great followers always beats having heaps of followers. There’s no question about it. But the question is how you should start out building this great network – you still have to find these great followers somehow.
I believe that automatically following a few hundred or even thousand people that match your interests (for example, searching http://search.twitter.com/ for a key word or hash tag) will get you started out fairly quickly. From there you can start narrowing down the people that are providing value in the network and find related interesting people. Hand picking all your followers will of course lead to a more targeted network, but it will also take a lot more time and energy on your part.
I’m not saying that you should go absolutely bonanza and follow 14,000ish people like I do, but doing a bit of key word based auto-following using for example Twollow will not hurt you. You can always unfollow people that aren’t providing value to you.
I was actually planning on posting this a few days ago, but I’ve been buzy with flying straight across Australia and exploring Perth.
Shortly after writing my last post, ‘I don’t give a damn about your affiliate offer or whatever you’re trying to sell to me on Twitter‘, I stumbled upon the following video:
Ed certainly presents a few valid points in the video and truth to be told – he’s dead on about the direct message spam. As I wrote in my earlier post, the direct message functionality is becoming less useful to me as I follow more people. If I wouldn’t follow 12,000+ people I wouldn’t have this problem. Neither would I have a hard time keeping up with what people are saying in the main timeline.
So why do I follow 12,000+ people?
First of all, I am by no means a celebrity or a media power house. I’m just a regular guy. Because of this, I do not have a fan base that will follow me on Twitter. So the only way for me to build a great network on Twitter is to be social (I guess that’s what “social” in “social media” stands for) and follow a lot of people. Usually people will follow back, I follow new people, rinse and repeat – and then the network will grow from here.
Having a fair bit of friends and followers (I do not really care about the actual number – even though the post ‘10,000+ followers in less than a month – Yeah, it’s possible!‘ might give a perception of that) is a way for me to build a great network and a forum to share my thoughts and ideas.
By having this great network available on Twitter, it will be possible for me to share my thoughts and ideas and get more feedback from a lot more people. Every time I post a new blog post on this blog it will automatically be posted on Twitter. Since I’ve got a few followers following my updates there’s a possibility that a certain percentage of these followers will click on the link and read the blog post. The more readers, the more awesome discussions, the more motivated I’ll be to update the blog = WIN! If you have a blog, you’ve probably experienced this as well, that the more readers you have, the more motivated you are to keep up with posting new and great content.
Twitter is really golden when it comes to traffic. Since I started this blog in February, roughly 48% of the few thousands of visitors I’ve had to this blog comes from Twitter. If you’re running a new blog or a site that’s still sandboxed by Google, Twitter is a great way to pull some initial traffic to your blog or site.
The bottom line of my rant is that if I didn’t follow a lot of people, I wouldn’t be able to have the network I have today. The case with Ed is that he’s quite famous in Internet Marketing-circles and that he’s already got a certain fan base that will follow him on Twitter. For me, I have to start the other way around and build a strong follower base on Twitter, provide value via my blog and eventually (if ever :D) build up a fan base.
As a matter of fact, from the time I signed up on Twitter to last month I actually did what Ed’s proposing – to not follow everyone that follows you or generally not follow a lot of people. I didn’t have a lot of conversations back then and I surely didn’t come in contact with a lot of awesome people.
Twitter, heaps of friends and followers and performance
Twitter wasn’t really initially built for having thousands of friends and followers, and yes, Ed certainly has got some valid points about how this could affect Twitter’s performance. If everyone would follow 10,000+ people I guess it’s a no brainer that Twitter’s performance will be negatively affected to some extent. Twitter has been performing a lot of upgrades to its backend the last year or so though, and except for the down time in the beginning of this month, there haven’t been a lot of controversy about the service’s up time lately.
I’m fairly certain that Twitter will be able to cope if people would start to follow a lot more people than they do right now – given that it wouldn’t happen at the exact same time.
Apparently, I might be considered to be a rock dweller
At the end of the video Ed talks about the apps that ‘hammers people’s Twitter profiles with follower requests’ and that people who are making these are ‘rock dwellers’. I can certainly get that hammering the same people with a bunch of follow requests a few hours apart is a really, really bad thing. I do not do this, and I wouldn’t write an application that would focus on doing this.
What I do consider to be okay though, is to semi-automate the procedure of finding like-minded and interesting people. If you for example perform a search for #SEO on Twitter and decide to follow a lot of people matching that search term – you’re seriously in for quite a few minutes or an hour of work to open up the user profiles from the search results and click the follow button for each person you’re interested in following. If you could do this in an automated fashion you’ll save some time and you’ll be able to have a few interesting discussions instead of spending your time opening up profiles and pressing the follow-button like a maniac.
What do you think?
Do you consider following a lot of people to be a bad thing? Should Twitter do something about it?
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