Twitter – the following of Twits?

I’ve been motivated to write an update off the back of Jason Calacanis adding me to his Twitter feed. At first, I was quite chuffed, “ooo” I thought, “Jason Calacanis wants to know what I’m up to, how exciting”. Ooooh no he doesn’t, as I realised upon clicking through to check out his Twitter page. He’s link baiting me. Hang on a minute, isn’t that a spammer tactic…?

And he’s not the only one, there’s a whole bunch of them at it. What a load of cobblers.

Surely I can’t be the only person who’s worked out that it’s not how many people follow you, but what you ratio of followers to following is that ranks you as an interesting and popular Tweeter?

If I see someone has got a 1:1 ratio, I can assume that they use Twitter with their close friends, and tend to follow people that also follow them. It’s not water tight, but it’s a fairly good hypothesis. Similarly, if I get followed by a user who follows more people than is followed by, I can assume that actually they’re probably quite interesting, but depending on how high the number differential is, they’re not as interesting as their group. Afterall, their group would follow them back otherwise, no? This extends right out to the people following thousands, and being followed by maybe 10. These people I avoid following like the plague.

So, Jason Calacanis with his 17,204 followers just doesn’t impress me. He’s following 12,302. that makes his ratio a rather limp 1:1.5 give or take. Even if I was to follow him, it’s going to be a one way relationship isn’t it. There’s no way my Tweets are going to make it through his 17,204 at least daily updates on average (I’m guessing here).

Check out someone like Mike Butcher on the other hand, with his 1,103 followers to 335 followings, and you’ve got a 1:3. I know immediately he must have some really interesting Twitter chat going on. Also, you know that at 335 people Mike is actually following people he wants to know about. Whereas what buy in would I get from a Twitter baiter? None at all.

Final thought aka Thayer Rant: When will people realise the value of social media – especially the so called experts in these fields – it is not about quantity of information or network, it’s about quality.

If you’re all about the quantity, then you’re not a social media mogul, you’re an e-marketeer at best, and a spammer at worst. Nobody cares if you’re being followed by 17,000 people if you’ve bribed them with a prize, or offered them sudo friendship. It doesn’t mean you’re popular, it just means you’re desperate, or selling something, or both.

As always, these are my views, and I know that some people won’t agree with them.

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About Thayer Prime

Tall. Eats a lot. Talks too much. I tweet over @thayer
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11 Responses to Twitter – the following of Twits?

  1. Anonymous says:

    How many tweets!
    I’m just trying to imagine what a twitter feed looks like when you are following +17k people. On my stats I make that about 30 tweets a second. Hmmm… Someone might be talking, but not listening 😉

  2. Anonymous says:

    You would have thought that the likes of Calcanais would know better!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think you make a good point when it comes to the ratio of following/followers. When you exclude the self-promoters, the most interesting people definitely should have more followers than they themselves follow.
    As for Mr. Calcanais, I’m reminded of an interview with Michael Arrington on Charlie Rose a few weeks back where he said that he never turns down a friend request on Facebook because it is easier to accept requests than potentially alienate readers by turning them down.
    That said, it must be maddening to try and keep track of 17,000 tweets a day.
    -Richard N

  4. Anonymous says:

    Re The Value of Social Media?
    Well said that woman.

  5. Thayer Prime says:

    Thanks for the comments
    It’s interesting, I posted this just before leaving for the train home, and was wondering all the way home (1hr) what the reaction would be, if people would agree or not. So I’m glad to see it’s not just me 🙂
    Here’s a friend of mine, Jason Trost, doing a follow up post for anyone interested:
    http://blog.jasontrost.com/2008/04/03/wheres-the-tweet/

  6. Anonymous says:

    A lot of these high voume guys tend to drown you, and as you say, just won’t engage. I tend to gracefully drop them down to an RSS feed [@scobleizer hasn’t complained].
    I’m now worried that my ratio is 1:0.75 – maybe I’d better unfollow more. I review http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/ regularly and if I’m not getting benefit from following someone, i remove them.
    There’s no shortage of folk who want to talk at you, and not listen.

  7. ajhoward says:

    My comment on JCs mass following…
    … can be found at http://tinyurl.com/52oreo 🙂

  8. spufidoo says:

    v. interesting
    As a bit of an IT luddite, long-in-the-tooth when it comes to IT, but reticent and suspicious of New Media, and consequently slow on the uptake (I’ve only recently succumbed to facebook, twitter, livejournal, blogger), I find your comments very interesting and shrewd.
    A still, small voice of reason in the increasing clamour of the blogoshpere. A technomage.

  9. Anonymous says:

    follow all followers…
    I always try, at least initially, to follow anyone who follows me. After a day or two, if all their tweets are simply link bait, I quit following.
    Not following people who just aren’t particularly interesting to you is, of course, your choice to make, but by making that choice you’re using twitter as a broadcast mechanism rather than a conversational tool. And that’s not much different than the spammers when you think about it. So if you aren’t going to follow all your followers, why not protect your updates and make it so only people you authorise AND follow yourself can see what you have to say?
    (From someone who read one of your tweets today and tried to respond with a list of helpful food blog links but realised, only then, that you weren’t following me so I couldn’t dm you)
    🙂
    Robin.
    http://twitter.com/Cybersoc

    • Thayer Prime says:

      Re: follow all followers…
      Hi Robin,
      As I’ve mentioned in a a few previous blog posts, I track @thayer so I always know when anyone is talking to me, whether I follow them or not, I also reply with an @whoever so they know I got it 🙂 You don’t have to follow someone to follow them, if that makes sense. I only follow people who I am close to and want to appear in my feed, but I still read and review other’s Twitter pages when I have time too.
      Just ‘cos you’re not being followed doesn’t mean I’m not listening!
      Thanks for the comment,
      Thayer

  10. Anonymous says:

    i’d agree by direct message on twitter…
    .. .. but your not following me. 🙂
    Great thought out post thou. Thanks for sharing.

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