Thursday, July 21, 2016

Does Your Twitter Follower Count Matter?

Yesterday, the Stepmans PC Twitter account was followed by an account with 55.6k followers. The account, in turn, follows 47.5k--a roughly 8k "followers to following ratio"--if you care about such things.

Should you care about your followers to following ratio?

Tech Crunch nailed the prevailing sentiment about "Twitter's Golden Ratio" seven years ago:

"If a person has more followers than they are following, they’re probably a good person to at least consider following. If they are following more than they have...the opposite may be true. The greater the discrepancy between the two numbers, the more likely each of those is true — to a certain point, since celebrities like Oprah throw this system out of whack. But for regular, non-Hollywood celebrities, the system works remarkably well as a filter."

In truth, as a filter, the "golden ratio" may or may not be a reliable indicator of an account to "at least consider following." The reason for this should be obvious to anyone who has seen an "GET MORE TWITTER FOLLOWERS" advertisement: Any given account's followers may or may not be a hollow number.

A quick scroll through an accounts followers, then, should give a good view of the quality of the account. Writing for Social News Daily, Dan Evon performed an experiment in buying Twitter followers. Dan turned to the website Fiverr: "I paid five dollars for 600 followers in three days," he writes. "And wouldn’t you know it, three days later and my Twitter following jumped by more than 600 people."

Unfortunately, when Dan checked his followers he was disappointed to see a host of eggshells and obviously fake accounts:

Dan's "Followers" [Image Source]

In the end, Dan's assessment is obvious: You should not buy Twitter followers. Yet money isn't the only way to "fake" a good following.

The account mentioned above, with 55.6k followers, reveals surprisingly little engagement for so many followers. In this case, the golden ratio, which might seem like an indication of "a good person to at least consider following" is meaningless. More likely, the account is what the website, The Luxury Spot, calls an "impostor influencer":

"There’s an epidemic of ‘social media influencers’ who have built themselves on almost entirely fake followings," writes Bryce Gruber, "and yes, I’m coining the term ‘imposter influencers’ because they have just as much value as the cheap perfumes you saw at the drugstore in the 90s."

Read: "10k for an Instagram? Why ‘Imposter Influencers’ Need to Go."

Bryce is speaking specifically about Instagram, but much of her article could be applicable to Twitter, too:

"Engagement is everything, but it’s not as simple as likes and comments. There are ratios, quality, and a whole bunch of other jazz to consider. For example, if someone’s profile shows they have 50k followers, but their photos only get 20 likes? Or a couple comments? OMG– run, don’t walk."

Bryce's point here is that followers and ratios tend to obscure the more important work of actually engaging people. A far better "ratio" would be a followers to likes or retweets ratio, or, as Bryce writes (about Instagram):

"The comment to likes ratio should typically be at least 7%, but higher is better. If you have 100 likes on a photo, you should have at least 7 comments."

But even these numbers can obscure the true value of social media engagement, which is not always about quantity but quality.

In an attempt to increase followers, too many Twitter accounts play a cat and mouse game of follow/unfollow. This is often the case with accounts that have 40k followers yet, in turn, follow 40k. Like the account that followed Stepmans PC yesterday, these accounts show surprisingly little engagement.

Quality engagement is key, and the same is true for ordinary people and brands: The key to actually having a worthwhile Twitter experience is, well, actually having a worthwhile Twitter experience: making and sustaining relationships.

In a future blog, we will discuss how this might look for a brand.

In the meantime, check out Bryce's article for some insightful thoughts on "influencers."

If you're interested in learning more about how to use social media and email to engage and attract visitors, please read some of our most popular posts:

Why Twitter is the Social Media Choice for Today and Tomorrow

Facebook, Sociability, and Organic Reach 

Pinterest Refers 5X More Traffic Than Twitter

Three Simple Tips For Optimizing Consumer Emails

Social Media Marketing with Stepman's PC 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites on all social media channels, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398 Stepmans PC combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective social media marketing campaigns.