Earlier this week, I did a social media workshop at a magazine conference, and one of the questions about Twitter was whether it made sense to follow thousands of people – an approach taken by many people such as blogger Robert Scoble and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki.
My immediate answer was “No” for a variety of reasons. One, I don’t think there are any major benefits to following thousands of people.
Given the volume of tweets, it is impossible to focus on the people who matter or offer good insight. It’s like going to a party and trying to talk with everyone.
You have snippets of conversations as opposed to real interaction. In a sense, you’re going through the motions as opposed to being really social.
Second, having thousands of followers is just a numbers game based on the idea that the more people you follow, the more people will follow you. Again, this doesn’t generate real followers but people who are also in numbers as opposed to being social.
There’s nothing wrong with having thousands of followers but it’s far better to attract them through great content – be it educational, entertaining or engaging – as opposed to the you-follow-me-I’ll-follow-you approach. This way, you’re attracting people who are following you for a reason.
Third, social media should really be about quality rather than quantity. In traditional media, quantity matters because it is a way to attract more advertising revenue.
In social media, it’s more about the quality of the conversations that happen and the level of engagement – an important difference when you’re talking to people as opposed to talking at them.
So does it matter how many people you follow on Twitter? The simple answer is that less can be more if it means being able to follow the right people for the right reasons.