Chris Walker, on Twitter, asked a question I get often: “Any advice on getting followers?”
It’s the worst question in social media. Sorry Chris for picking on your question.
It’s actually a question lots of people wonder, but it’s the kind of thing that no one really can answer.
Because we’re not in control of who follows us.
So, I’d rather not think about it.
I rather think about things I CAN control. What are those?
1. What I write about.
2. Who I follow.
3. Who I hang out with.
4. The lists I follow and steal from.
See, the people I follow will inform my opinion. I find I use what I’m learning on Twitter all the time. So, if I follow smarter technologists, I will probably become more informed. At least I’ll be able to @reply to the best thinkers in the business.
Wait a second, did I just discover a way to get followers? Why, yes! See, if you have something smart to say back to people who are smart they just might follow you.
But, really, followers don’t matter anymore. Here’s proof. I just created a new Twitter account to display only my RSS feed (this blog will be on that new account shortly). I told everyone that I would add the first 500 people who followed that account to a list. Guess what? I didn’t need to follow them back. Here’s the list.
This list is useful to me. Why? It gives me a look into what the people reading me (and who are online on Friday afternoon) are thinking about. I might never have followed many of these people. But now I get to see them. I wish I had a list of ALL of my followers but Twitter is lame and only lets 500 people onto a single list.
So, I can “Follow You” (big “F”) without “following you” (small “F”). So, is the new Twitter goal to get me to follow you? Or put you on a list? Help, my head hurts.
Seriously, why else doesn’t getting followers matter? Twitter search. Several times a day I read every tweet that has the word “Rackspace” in it. Every day! Same for “Scoble.” Same for all sorts of different terms. Today I’m tracking “Google Chrome.” Say Google Chrome in a Tweet and I will see it.
Do followers matter in a search scenario? No! I see your Tweet whether you have 1 follower or a million!
It’s the content you write. Oh, geez, I’m doomed!
So, if you want more followers you gotta find a way to write better? Or do better videos?
Now THAT is the best question in social media: “how do I write better?”
Me? I’m too lazy and it’s Friday afternoon so I’m gonna give up on this writing thing and head to San Francisco for a nice meal with Maryam and friends.
In the meantime, good luck with the followers. I’ve been working in online communities since 1985 and I still haven’t figured that out.