I love social media. It enables me to connect with industry peers, find new interesting connections and keep up with, pretty much, life in general. But I don’t understand this whole follow me – follow you – follow back – thing we’ve got going on. I got fed up with the discussion of the most followers equals the bigger man/woman. Mainly because your following count can be played like a game and the real game is called engagement. Which doesn’t come with buying followers. Numbers.
When I started using social media I connected with everything. I was following a brand selling smoked fish in Canada and connecting with random strangers on Linkedin. Until I realized that my whole network was a clutter. And I had to change that. The following step was to clean up my social media profiles.
My god, that took ages!
I spent about an hour every evening for almost a month to clean up my own network and connections. I looked at people I had connected with on Linkedin but didn’t know – removed them. I removed people I never met in real life on Facebook (if I’m THAT interesting, which I’m not, you can see my public updates). If you like to know what I had for lunch or if I’m ranting about a bad referee making stupid calls during a Miami Dolphins game, just add me on Twitter.
And believe me, Twitter got it’s fair deal of spring cleaning too. I started back in May this year to clean up whom I followed with the following questions in mind:
- Do I know this person and do we interact on Twitter?
- Is this someone that inspires me?
- Is this someone I’ve worked or someone I’m currently working with?
If a person fulfilled one of the above three points, they stayed. For the rest, well. If it was a friend but we didn’t interact on Twitter – why would we see each other on a social network where we talked about different interests? I added tons of people to my own customized Twitter lists. Got a cleaner Twitter feed. And I did this spring cleaning with focus and dedication. Because I wanted it to be done correctly.
Now, when someone adds me on Twitter, Instagram or wants to connect on Linkedin and Facebook – I go back to my list with three questions. If they don’t match, I decline. I’m not excluding people, I’m just trying to manage my connections. And there is way too many cool people online. If you would follow them all, your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Google+ feed would be cluttered beyond recognition. You would see so little, from so few. And the thing is that I want to read and catch up with my smart industry peers, clients and friends. We all have a limited time on our hands to do what we want and I want to spend it on the people I find awesome, funny and friendly.
So why am I never going to grow my followers count? That’s kind of the question you where looking for me to answer, right? Have a look at my Twitter data below:
In May, I started to sort out people I never engaged or tweeted with. I was expecting a big drop in followers, but that didn’t happen. I thought to myself that maybe this “follow me back” attitude was dead. But I was wrong.
I gain about 5-15 followers per week on Twitter alone. And I loose 5-15 followers per week. When my new followers see that I’ve not followed back, I’m out the door. I wasn’t another number on their account, so bye bye Mr. Pettersson.
And since I’m not going to follow back everything that joins a social network, I will never going to grow my followers count. Unless you ditch that follow back attitude and start following people you like and get inspired by. Don’t look at numbers. Look at the outcome.
I’ve got new business, friends, speaking arrangements and much more out of it. Just do what you love and listen to the people you like. If you do, that’s going to take you very far. Trust me on this one.
Subscribe for more ideas
That’s interesting. I have tried several different approaches to Twitter. I think that as long as you have a strategy, you will be able to evaluate the results. And then think if the results are worth it.
To me, there’s a value in following a lot of people (currently around 3000). That way, the curation tool that Twitter bought and now use to send out their own “x has got tweets for you” it’s curated by a much bigger crowd.
I then use lists to break them down into manageable groups.
I tend to follow people back, but only if they have their bios filled out in an interesting way.
Twitter is harder than Facebook (that will automagically curate stuff for you) and Google+ (I think they also have some sort of automagical curation, albeit not as strict as Facebook).
I used to manage tons of lists but it got out of control. I just got bored of all the “must manage this” every week. Still use Twitter Lists but not as much as before.