Twitter: How Many People Should You Follow?
A large crowd of today’s Internet users are turning to Twitter. Why? Simply because nobody can escape the tendrils of social media’s accessibility and Twitter is everywhere.
Social media in its essence beckons newcomers to come and follow them – even if you weren’t asking for it. Practically every website advertises their own Twitter feed, Facebook Page or profile of some other form of social media. They would be foolish not to! After all, social media is meant to be easy to use, entertaining and right to the point. Those aspects combined with a mere 140 characters to get your message across make for a no-nonsense informational tool that simply appeals to our age of quick-witted technology.
I’m New To All Of This… Who do I follow?
If you’re new to Twitter, by now you’ve most likely already set up your account on Twitter and have at least five friends (Twitter suggests following others as part of the set up process). It’s okay if these five people are your family members. But now you’re looking for more – Kim Kardashian just wasn’t someone you wanted to follow. We get that.
So you’ve explored the Internet, found your favorite sites and are looking to expand your horizons without going overboard. How many people should you follow on Twitter? How many “whats” is the real question. Twitter is full of websites, marketers, promotion companies, sales professionals, dormant teens, local fooderies and the list goes on and on. Everyone is on Twitter or at least everyone in general.
Let’s start with the type of twitter feed you have first. For some, this may seem obvious. But there is a line that should be drawn between the two.
Professional – Most people do not have a professional need for a Twitter page. Even large companies have offerings such as Yammer and Jive to keep chatter internal and protected within their policies. But if you run your own website or are working to grow yourself professionally, your Twitter page can certainly prove useful with some pointed following guidelines you probably never thought of using.
Personal – Twitter’s main purpose. Tweet, ReTweet and speak your mind as often as you’d like. If you’re looking to use Twitter to simply follow your favorite celebrities and friends, or even use Twitter as an alternative to text messaging, this is more likely the type of account you will have.
How many should I follow? 100? 1000? 5000?
Without getting too deep into professional and personal Twitter use types, the amount of people, websites, celebrities etc. that you follow is based on what you’re using it for. Following 100 could work for some, but 1,000 could work best for others. It breaks down to your purpose. So really, there are two general answers to your question.
The Short Answer
Follow as many as you want. Follow a million if it makes you happy. You have no obligations to anyone on Twitter. Sure, following someone back is good Twitter etiquette, but who cares, right? If that’s the type of twitter account you’re looking for, that’s what you’ll get. If you’re on Twitter for very casual use, chances are others will not follow you back unless you have a personal relationship with them or they follow you back as part of the Twitter etiquette. The great thing about Twitter is you don’t need to be tied to it, but depending on how involved you want to be or how popular you want to come off, it could amount to quite a bit of work if you become highly followed.
The Long Answer
Are you ready for this? If you want to make the most out of Twitter and not just use it as another app on your iPhone, you need to pick and choose who you follow. Why? If you follow everyone on God’s green Earth, your Twitter feed becomes useless as does the saturated amount of information on it. As much as everyone may think it’s a popularity contest, Twitter should be used as a tool to quickly get what you were looking for, whether it be information, entertainment or communication.
If you prune your following to those who really dish out good information, Twitter will become very valuable and less time-consuming. Think about Twitter this way: More is less. Less is more. Often times I see Twitter accounts following 4,000, sometimes over 10,000 people. This is not realistic nor a viable option to use Twitter optimally.
Ideally, we only have so much time in each day. If you are looking for an influx of information The Internet holds far more than any human can contain. There is no possible way to get through the Tweets from 10,000 people in a day. Those that do have that many followers do not check those people’s tweets or only have time to respond to a select few. That said, the information you choose to be delivered is less about collecting Tweets like baseball cards and more about digesting them, communicating to that Tweet or simply ReTweeting it. This will provide more benefit to you and will also provide a larger benefit to your followers (if you have any).
Keep this in mind: If someone follows you and you don’t have any interest in them, there’s no need to follow them back. But more on that some other time.
Start With 50 And Work Your Way Up
There are guides to get your started, but following fifty is optimal for beginners whether you use Twitter professionally or personally. While fifty may seem like a lot, it really isn’t partly due to the hours at which people Tweet. Some people may only tweet when they have free time or after work hours. Some may be based in the UK and will Tweet on off hours.
If you follow a syndication, you might want to pick and choose which ones you follow as they will Tweet 100+ times a day, or every 10-15 minutes. That can get annoying unless you move up to following 200 frequent tweeters. In this case you will receive more information, which will show their Tweets less but at the same time pack a great amount of information within a short time span. It’s all about balancing how much information you receive from one person because once you follow, you can’t block their tweets; only unfollowing will stop you from seeing that person’s tweets as Twitter does not yet have a favorites preference like Facebook recently introduced.
Starting with fifty also allows you to see what those you follow are actually saying. Often times, I’ll start following someone only to discover what they’re tweeting about doesn’t really interest me. I don’t need a frequent tweeter, only them to deliver something worthwhile to my feed. Once you have time to review those that you are following, you can decide whether they’re cluttering up your feed and unfollow.
In the professional manner, a common practice is to follow a specific amount of people per week in order to build your audience. This is quite common on Twitter and can lead to a lot of unneeded fluff. The good professionals will be able to promote themselves while still offering useful information to their followers. Growing your following, however, is a whole different conversation.
How many do you follow on Twitter? How many is too much?