How many followers should you have?
I don’t care, but you can follow me on TwitterÂ here.
While Twitter follower count is the most cited metric of Twitter profile importance, I really don’t care about that number. With some exceptions, I’ve found little correlation between the value of a Twitter profile and the number of followers. Some people with high follower counts are interesting, and some aren’t. Some people with low follower counts are interesting, and some aren’t.
So let’s flip this question on its head: How many people do you follow on Twitter — and whom do you follow? I’m more intrigued with these questions because the number and types of profiles you follow says more about who and how interesting you are than the number of people who follow you.
The number of people you follow can indicate how selective, inclusive or careless you are in grooming your online social network. For example, if you’re following 15,000 people, chances are that you’re not very selective in where you grant your attention. Or it might mean that you’re willing to friend anyone in hopes of reciprocity — with the goal of claiming a massive follower count. People whose foremost motivation is popularity taint themselves. If you’re selective in your follower count, it probably means you are more thoughtful in where you allocate your attention; in many cases, that also means you’re more thoughtful in your interactions and expressions.
Then there’s whom you follow — which says a lot about who you are and how relevant you are to me. This list indicates where your interests and social preferences lie, and provides insight into motivation. If you have a tendency to limit your following to more interesting people, whom I also find interesting, then I’m likely to trust and explore additional people in your social graph, and be more interested in your recommendations and expressions.
I’m following about 453 people as of this writing, though 100 really matter to me. It’s not that all 453 people aren’t important, it’s just that I have limited attention. And even 100 active Twitter profiles creates a status stream that is relatively tough to follow. Sure, there are Twitter Lists now, which help segment and aggregate a higher volume of Twitter profiles into interest groups, but the problem of status update overflow remains massive and seems to get worse everyday. Until we get better tools to filter Twitter streams, I think 100 is the magic number of people to follow.
What’s your method for evaluating the value of a Twitter profile? How do you select and filter Twitter profiles and tweets so they create value — versus noise — in your life?
This was my latest column in MediaPost.
(Photo credit: Fanie Gregoire)