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There’s an ongoing debate raging in the SEO/social media/marketing multiverse about whether it’s better to obtain a targeted, devoted following on Twitter or just a really big one. There are arguments for quality and arguments for quantity, and sometimes the same people who argue quality one minute will argue quantity the next.
With headlines everywhere that beg us to learn 10 Ways to get more Twitter followers and Increase your followers to 45,000 in just one week it can be hard to come down on the side of quality. And this time I’m going with the herd and coming down square on the side of quantity.
Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind in a minute, but for now I’m going to make the argument that when it comes to followers, much like dark chocolate bars, dollar bills and vacation days, you can never really have too many.
Followers Are Free
This is the one instance where we can all disregard conventional wisdom about targeted marketing and segmented lists. Social media is tossing conventional marketing out in favor of human interaction. And that means you need humans to interact with.
While I would never advocate a throw-spaghetti-at-the-wall approach to traditional marketing (printing and postage costs alone make a strong argument for super targeted marketing), the beauty of social media is that you can set up your Twitter account absolutely free in a matter of minutes.
The only investment you need to make is your time, and while many of us are as short on time as we are on cash, it’s always easier (and in this case, more fun) to squeeze a few minutes out of your day than a few thousand dollars out of your budget.
If you’ve got time to engage, then follow away! (And if you don’t have time to engage, then get off the social media bandwagon because that’s what it’s all about.)
Go ahead and follow everyone who follows you. Set up keyword searches and follow everyone who uses your term. Capitalize on those #FFs and follow the people with the hashtag of your choice. A recent count puts the number of registered Twitter users at more than 105,000,000.
Yes, That’s Millions
Let’s say that only 15% of those, as some reports have suggested, are active users. That’s still over 15 million people for you to connect with. And even if only 15% of them make it onto your radar, that’s still 2 million people, and if you only connect with 15% of them, that’s still 300,000 people, and even if you can get just 15% of them to listen, that’s still 45,000 people, and if only 15% of those want what you’re offering… well, you get the point.
You could fifteen-percent your numbers to death and still end up with a whole lot of people. Do you need 105 million qualified leads? Probably not. But hit 105 million people and there’s bound to be a qualified lead in there somewhere. Think of it as mining for diamonds. Spend a little time in the mud and come up with a few gems that will make your time and effort worthwhile.
The Unfollow Button Is Your Friend
Just because you start out following someone doesn’t mean you have to follow them forever. It’s all part of the mining process. Now that you’re following ten thousand people who used the word “marketing” in their tweets, it’s time to start filtering out those who have no value to you.
And keep in mind there are two kinds of value: the kind you get from following people you can learn from (even if they don’t follow you back) and the kind you get from people who want whatever it is you’re offering (even if you don’t follow them back).
It’s easier to weed people out of a long list of “maybes” than to agonize over whether or not a particular person is worth following in the first place. Besides, you’ll never know if you don’t engage.
The Rolling Twitter Stone Does Gather Moss
There are some people who will tell you that Twitter isn’t a popularity contest. What they fail to tell you is that everything is a popularity contest. It doesn’t end in high school when you escape the geeks-vs-jocks stranglehold. As any SEO marketer will tell you, it’s ALL about the popularity.
Just look at the impact that inbound links have on the ranking of your web site in Google. Everyone wants to hang around with the popular kid, even Google.
When you look at someone’s Twitter profile and it says “52 followers” are you more or less likely to follow that person than if it said “2,000 followers”? Don’t lie! True or not, having a lot of followers implies there is something worth following.
This is doubly true for people with 2,000 followers who are only following 52. That says, “I’m very important, so you probably want to follow me, but I don’t have time nor do I care to listen to what you have to say about where you checked in on Foursquare, what you had for dinner or which SEO trick you learned today.”
It’s great to follow people you can learn from, but hard to network if you’re not doing some of the teaching yourself. So go out and get yourself a stack of followers and unfollow them selectively until you’re the one with the impressive stat count.
Popularity begets popularity. And if what you’re offering has value, then word will get out and your Twitter stone will begin rolling and growing.
The Disclaimer And… Well, Maybe It Is About The Quality. A Little.
As a businessperson and web marketer I am certainly not advocating collecting people without purpose. As with any marketing strategy, your goal should be clearly articulated, at least in your mind. “Getting followers” is not a goal in itself but a means to reach your goal, whether that’s to sell a product, offer a service, share your wisdom, or solicit a donation.
But you must have a goal. Then you can spend a lot of time and money segmenting lists for direct-marketing, spend more time tweaking your title tags in perpetual angst over where your web site shows up in Google, pour your diminishing budget into online advertising… or you can get out there and make yourself very present and very followable.
Once you’ve done that, you have the luxury of aiming for quality, so when you do find the gems, you can polish them with your attention and watch them shine.
What’s your opinion? Are you going for numbers or maintaining a high bar for following people?