Like many journalists, I have been working on building a Twitter following. I follow people who like the things I do seem to draw in likewise followers. Follow me on Twitter, BTW.
As a following grows, though, the makeup becomes more scatter shot. At 413, mine is a modest following and I am proud to say I have cultivated in such a way as to create common ground. I generally look for journalists, techweenies, social media wonks and Boeing 787 and auto tech fans. After that, I follow folks who just look interesting. To quote a TV ad from eighties: “I build my following the old fashion way. I earn it.” (that John Houseman ad would ring hollow today given Smith Barney and its parent Citicorp haven’t earned anything for years.)
But now Twitter has gotten so much play on everything from late night TV to the evening news, everyone wants in. And the goal is to build mega-followings regardless of the methods. Cheating, tricks and “brute force” are all fair game. In fact, bruteforcetwitter.com’s motto is “it’s cheating, but it works” with promises that your following will mushroom if you follow the “secrets” on its set of nine videos for $97. It also has a “secret society” of followers where secrets get shared.
Also, one of my followers tried to entice me into signing up to ifollowback.com and I am tempted, but unwilling to take the plunge just yet. This beta site is building a network of twits who will follow you if you promise to follow them. This seems for like a fair exchange, but I hesitate to sign up for fear that I will lose control of my followers and followees. Jerell Klaver (@jerell) promises more filtering in a future version.
Then there’s the spammers or in the Twitter worlds, “twammers.” I had a few of those where the Twitter bios were exactly the same so something was fishy. A good place to monitor who you following and who are following you is friendorfollowers.com.
Maybe, I’m wrong and should pump my following into the stratosphere by whatever means necessary. One’s twammer’s tactic I read about was to follow 1,000 strangers. About 350 would follow back. Then the twammer would remove the 1,000 to make it appear that the world was following them while he or she appeared more discriminating. As Twitter grows up, perhaps followings will level off and folks will separate who they truly want and don’t want. Technically, that’s still not easy.
Venture capitalist and well-known Silicon Valley personality Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki, 97,195 followers) has argued that the best way to measure Twitter success are retweets which speak to quality your tweets. I tend to agree and have gotten a few. I also argue that it’s not a bad idea to list your Twitter metrics on your resume. A lot of employers are looking for social media-savvy workers.
But for now, I’m sticking to the old fashion way, attracting one follower at a time. Did I say follow me on Twitter?