Megan Berry is Marketing Manager for Klout and I’ve asked her to educate us on why follower count is pretty meaningless.
Megan Berry is Marketing Manager for Klout, the standard measure of online influence. She also occasionally blogs on Mashable, Huffington Post, and Brazen Careerist. She is a graduate of Stanford University and considers herself a social media junkie.
It can be tempting to measure your Twitter success based on follower count. It’s easy to understand, easy to measure, and seems to be the way the world judges your Twitter presence. But, to put it simply, it’s a terrible metric.
Let me give you an example. One person builds an audience slowly, through engaging those in their area of expertise. They form real relationships with other people interested in their field and are careful about who they follow and the content they produce.
Another person is more interested in getting lots of followers. They follow a lot of people, then they unfollow them if they don’t follow back. They tweet using irrelevant trending hashtags. Now, both of these people could have the same number of followers, but who’s more successful on Twitter? It’s a no brainer.
Follower count simply isn’t a good measure of Twitter success. Here’s why:
Most followers don’t really follow you. I hope I’m not bursting your bubble, but clicking that follow button doesn’t mean someone cares about you or your business. It doesn’t mean they’re reading your tweets. It doesn’t mean they’ll ever click your links. Many people follow thousands, if not tens of thousands of people. It is impossible to read that many tweets. If they’ve never engaged with you it’s probably because they’re not paying attention.
It’s too easy to game. You can see the extreme example of this above, but anyone can fall victim to this trap. If all you care about are followers you set up the wrong incentives for yourself (or your business). Want more followers quickly? Follow people, or have a Twitter contest, or create a method that makes people follow your account when they sign up for your service. You may want to do all of these things, but the reason shouldn’t be solely about getting followers.
So, how should you measure Twitter success? That will vary based on your goals. Your metrics will vary if you’re looking for brand awareness vs better customer service vs leads. My suggestion is to focus on tangible actions instead of follows. How many people @ message you, retweet you or click on your links? Of course, I have to suggest checking out Klout because we measure Twitter influence based on action (bias alert: I work there), but either way just, please, don’t only look at follower count.
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