@SallyBercow recently tweeted to her fifty thousand followers a link to a post of my blog. Those close to me will know how chuffed I was because in an hour or so I had more hits than I usually have in a month. The post was about the speech the Prime Minister made regarding the possible removal of housing benefit for those under 25.
It coincided with a workshop I ran on Twitter within BHT. We were looking at how BHT can increase its influence through Twitter. In preparation for this we began monitoring the number of followers the 20 or so BHT tweeters have.
Three of my colleagues saw a 50% increase in their followers over a 3 week period:
- @LizDaviesBHT had an 88% increase. Liz is really worth following as she tweets and retweets a range of really interesting things;
- @BowlerHelen had a 76% increase. Helen is an inspirational tutor in our Hastings Finding Futures Project and uses Twitter to celebrate the achievements of her learners, young men and women who many had written off;
- @BHTAdvice had a 52% increase. This account highlights what is happening in the advice world and anyone concerned about changes to welfare benefits and cuts to legal aid should follow this account.
But in preparing for the workshop I came to realise that size doesn’t matter when it comes to Twitter. It is the quality of the followers that counts. Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, follows just 5 people. If you are an economist and you are followed by her, you will have been noticed at the highest level.
It can be very flattering to be followed by several hundred or even several thousand people. But if each of them, in turn, follow several thousand people, the chances are that you are not being followed at all. I can’t imagine that two of my ‘followers’ @SallyBercow (following 3,951 people) even notices my musings on @SussexCCC nor @campbellclaret (following 5,071 people) on my fascination with southern hemisphere rugby.
It has been said that it is possible to effectively follow a maximum of 150 people on Twitter. In this respect, size DOES matter. I know that I often just skim through my Twitter feed, focusing on just a minority of those on whose tweets I pause.
In considering whether you are being successful on Twitter, do the following simple exercise: decide who are the people you most want to be engaged with on Twitter. It might by 5, 50 or 500 people. Are they following you? If they are, great, if not you are probably not being effective on Twitter. A colleague of mine who deals with the media has a list of around 12, all journalists. She doesn’t need many more followers.
What is of equal important is that she is following anyone who has an interest in the work of @BHT_Sussex and the issues impacting on our clients. Most activity on Twitter, or blogs for that matter, is reading and reflecting. If you spend at least 95% of your time reading and reflecting, you may almost be getting the right balance.
Anyone who just uses Twitter to promote their own ‘fascinating’ version of the world will not attract, nor keep, followers.