Photo by: Johan J. Ingles
(This post is part 2 of the article, New Twitter Followers – Reasons Why it’s Harder to Get Them Now. Part 1 Here. It’s based on an exchange of emails between the author of this reply, Jane and myself. It offers quite a bit of insight on the situation on Twitter and the difficulty of acquiring legitimate new followers these days. I suggest you read the first part of the article as well in order to get a complete idea.) -Danny (Editor)
Thanks for the email and blog post about Twitter follows. A lot of what you’re saying makes sense. I haven’t thought enough about Twitter implementing restrictions nor its effects but I do see a difference in Twitter all around from 3 years ago. It has a ton more users, businesses, too many “bots”, and just a different flow of communication with so much more noise. But I think Twitter still works. If users genuinely want content, or want to see what you’re up, to they are going to follow. It might just take more time. I may be restating you but I’ll share a little of my experience with Twitter and follows.
1. Saturation: Twitter is saturated with new users who don’t really understand it and with a ton of new business accounts. This changes the experience of Twitter, how it functions and our access to content. It’s interesting that what seemed like this underground niche (blogging and Twitter) has turned into something everyone does. This can be a great contribution to connections and content, but it has its annoying downside. In my adult community I’ve seen a lot of cyber pressure to have specific worldviews or political views and a lot of stuff that probably isn’t thought through before it’s published. I don’t enjoy that aspect of saturation in social media when it starts to affect individuality because it feels homogenizing. But these users probably follow and inform themselves inside of a small community so it won’t affect follows directly. But it has affected the number of users and noise to sift through.
Twitter is way more saturated with businesses and spam bots than when we started. I have many friends trying to promote their companies and it’s really hard to differentiate the clothing lines they create and advertise from their personal content. To resolve this I’ve suggested they create separate Twitter and Facebook accounts for business, or to simply restrain from spamming with ads. This way I can be in the know on what’s happening in peoples’ lives but don’t have to get 30 real-estate listings in my feed when I’m not in the market. Otherwise, they just need to be a little more thoughtful about it. You are awesome with this! [Thank you! -Ed] Twitter could be reaching that arc in its growth where if it doesn’t retain a little structure then not only will the content suffer but the company itself could. This may be why they are restricting 3rd party applications and adding promoted tweets- ways of control and monetization for an expanding business.
2. The “follow-for-follow” issue: Like you, there are people I’ve done this with. Some of them I don’t particularly seek out their content but most I enjoy seeing in my timeline. And then there are the people I follow whose tweets I read every few days. I agree with you, “If you’re following everyone then you’re following no one.” I think this exchange can work when used with discernment. If Twitter is involved in payment for followers I think they are only doing themselves a disservice by, like you said, diluting content.
3. Keyword search: You mentioned keyword use to search through Twitter and having to really thin through the bulk to find contacts of interest. I don’t know if everyone does this because it does take time. I still like this method on Twitter’s platform because it works and I believe it will push us to be more creative. There are so many different reasons why people use Twitter and we are all looking for content we feel is relevant as individual users. By looking through trends and hash tags, then following or retweeting, this all seems to aggregate. Often the best content/tweets find their way up.
4. How could I forget #FF. Follow Friday was something I paid attention to 3 years ago. But, when someone lists 500 followers in my feed it’s clear they aren’t giving a shout out to a friend or a contact that inspired them. After I was included in several tweets and felt all special, I checked the page and saw the account Follow Friday’d their entire follower list. So again, I think it works if it’s used with thoughtfulness.
5. Being female: I won’t disagree on that except for, I don’t have a preference over female vs. male Twitter users. There are so many other issues women would probably rather have an edge on. [Refers to the edge that girls can have over guys in collecting new followers. Read part 1 for more on this. -Ed]
On the whole, I think the best ways to maintain the followers we want are by taking the time to actively seek contacts and content, retweeting what we really like, tweeting well (there are many blog posts on that issue), and giving a shout out to friends without spamming the timeline.
I continue to try to present substantive, fun information and be a part of the online conversation (I’ll try harder haha). I’m incredibly grateful for the friendships and connections I’ve made through Twitter. Part of what makes you unique and interesting, Danny, is that you genuinely have a lot of talent and passion and a fascinating variety of interests in life. [Again, many thanks - Ed]. So I guess this is where I feel like those accounts that don’t have authenticity will fall away. I trust people will find ways of getting to the good stuff they are looking for and we can rely on who we follow to show us new and interesting information. I don’t think numbers really matter much by themselves. Who wants 5000 followers bots anyway? The quality of information and connections we make are so much better. I think if the integrity of the user is there then the right people will follow.
Best to you!
About the author: Jane Michelle studied philosophy and religion, then found her way to acting, film & new media. She seeks to balance the creative with the analytical. Click here to follow Jane on Twitter.