Five reasons you shouldn’t care about Twitter follower numbers

Why do we judge the quality of a tweeter by the number of people they have following them? And why do we pay so much attention to our follower numbers? It is such crap, and here are five reasons why.

1. Follower numbers are easily faked.

Here’s how easy:

The follow/follow-back principle (you follow me, so I’ll follow you) is nice in theory – after all, it’s polite to follow someone who follows you – but it’s also a really easy way to quickly boost your follower numbers. I’ve tried it, it works

You can hit certain keywords, hashtags or magic bio words which cause bots to follow you. That’s why I’m followed by Glee and iPhone bots. They’re essentially fake followers

I’m also followed by about 20 work accounts, which is nice, but nearly meaningless. I know a lot of people have multiple accounts, and have those multiple accounts follow them

2. Follower numbers are not engagement numbers.

Are your followers actually hitting your website, buying your products, or using your services (if that’s your goal)? Are you getting retweeted or replies? That’s what counts on social. Measuring tools like Klout are pretty helpful, but still aren’t the be all and end all. Don’t look at a tweeter’s 50,000 followers and think that automatically translates to website UBs and sales – or even intelligent tweets.

One important factor: Lists. Just because someone has a lot of followers, does not mean those followers are ‘subscribed’. You may be on private lists which means you’re being ‘subscribed to’ without actually being followed – and vice versa! Follower numbers do not equal eyeballs to your messages.

Another factor is “speciality” – I don’t know a thing about cars, so if I advised my followers to buy a Mazda, they’d probably laugh at me. Jeremy Clarkson advises you to buy a Mazda, you nod in awe and buy a fricken Mazda. Even if I had more followers than Jeremy Clarkson, which do you think matters to Mazda? It’s not about follower numbers.

3. Investment

This one is simple: The more time you spend on Twitter, and the longer you’ve been on, the more followers you’re bound to have. Some people can’t spend all day on Twitter, so naturally they’ll have fewer followers – unless they’re Carolyn3News – when is that woman going to tweet?

Sometimes it’s about quality, not quantity!

4. Maybe you’re not mainstream flavour

You’re a round peg and Twitter is a square hole. Who really cares? If you tweet heaps and that loses you followers, it’s not the end of the world. Just have fun and be yourself. You’ll never please everyone, and if you lose followers for it, then so be it.

Unless you’re publishing your Foursquare updates to your feed. No one wants to see that shit.

5. Emotional well-being

Obsession with follower numbers is nothing but damaging. Your drive for followers is probably coming from some other unmet need. Want to be famous? Respected? Well-liked? Listened to? Answer that need and you’ll find your obsession with or friendorfollow will die off.

It is not a personal slight if someone you’ve never met thinks your 140 characters shouldn’t appear on a timeline of a social media tool they look at twice a week.

If you only have 100 followers and think that’s somehow a poor reflection on how lovely you are, think again. It’s not. There are some dipshits with thousands of followers out there.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a lot of followers. It’s human nature to want to be popular and liked. Just keep it in context.

And don’t get me started on Facebook friends.

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...


  1. Zeb A. Reply

    So unbelievably true it’s scary how my head resembled a bobblehead (nodding in agreement) as I read this article. I actually make a point of culling my follower list by blocking obvious bots/spammers.

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