100,000 Twitter followers. Now what?

twitter followers

I used to document my social media journey by writing a post at each increment of 10,000 Twitter followers on my account. I wanted to share what I was learning, how things were changing along the way.

But it became boring for me to write about this and it started to feel like navel-gazing … so I stopped after 40,000 followers.

But I recently hit 100,000 Twitter followers so I thought this would be an appropriate time for a momentary zig from the regular content on {grow} to reflect on how I am keeping up personally with what has become a social media tsunami.

How did this happen?

In my book the The Tao of Twitter, I emphasize the importance of building an audience for the simple reason that if you don’t have at least a couple hundred people in your tribe, Twitter will become boring and you’ll probably quit.

When I entered the Twitterverse in 2008, I was like a kid in a candy store. I could not believe that I could actually follow all of these amazing people and get a glimpse of their lives and their thoughts! Twitter became my favorite place to meet new friends. It was an important news feed. It was my university. And it still is.

I can’t pin it down to a precise time or event, but the number of people following me started to accelerate dramatically some time in 2011. It probably coincided with publishing books and increased public speaking. Today, I get about 400-500 new followers a week, all organically. I have not done any proactive audience building (like I prescribe in the book) since 2009.

How do I keep up with all those Twitter followers?

It has always been important to me to maintain a quality tribe. As far as I know, everybody following me is a real person. Last time I checked, over 98% of my followers were active accounts. If I did not cull spammers and inactive accounts, my audience would easily have 200,000 followers.

I have always blocked spammers and carefully considered who I follow back. Unfortunately with the high rate of new followers every week, I cannot personally keep up with that administration or I would spend all day considering new Twitter followers. Since 2013 I have out-sourced this administration to a trained and trusted associate. I still look through new Twitter followers almost every day though. It’s just fun.

The only way to make sense of this wall of noise is to place people in Twitter Lists. By importing my lists into a tool like Hootsuite I can easily track what groups are talking about — my customers, friends, neighbors, etc. It’s actually not that hard to keep up with all those people if you have a little discipline.

I only spend an average of 20 minutes a day on Twitter, maybe more if something generated a lot of conversation. Twitter Lists makes this very efficient!

Some have asked why I only follow back one-third of the accounts that follow me. The biggest reason is that I rarely follow business accounts back. If you are a real person who seems to have a legitimate interest in what I do, I will follow you. If I missed you somehow, it is just an oversight. Let me know on Twitter and I will follow you back.

How have I changed?

I recently received this tweet: Your Twitter used to be more interesting and authentic. Less links to your blog & generic TY’s, and more soul.

Here is another: I am amazed that u can actually engage with as many people as u do!

Both perspectives carry some truth.

On the positive side, I try to respond to every single tweet directed my way (not every RT of course). Are my responses soul-ful? Probably not.

I do not engage in as many conversations on Twitter compared to a few years ago for a simple reason. They get out of control. If I throw out a question, I might get 50 or more people wanting to engage in simultaneous conversations. Chit chat does not scale.

I do really miss the chit chat though.

Instead of connecting on an intimate basis, I feel like I am standing in a stadium, shaking hands with the people in the front row. I hate not being more conversational and accessible.

To purge or not to purge?

I would say the sweet spot when I had the most fun on Twitter was when I had about 2,000 followers. Would I ever go back?

Last year a number of people had Twitter purges, wiping out their huge number of followers and starting over in a smaller and more manageable way.

I would never do that. I think it is disrespectful. Why do people follow me? Who knows. But at least some people are trying to learn from me. I am a teacher. That is why I am here. I am not going to elevate myself to a place where I wipe out an audience of people who want to learn something because it would be more user-friendly for me.

There is another weird benefit about a high follower count and that is “social proof.” Whether I like it or not, whether it makes sense or not, I know people make judgments about me — and maybe even hire me — based on number of likes, followers, etc. It is what it is, and I can’t change the way the world works.

So, the audience will continue to grow and I will find a way to handle it, hopefully with some grace.

What does the future hold?

Things are changing so fast I think that trying to follow a script would be limiting and counter-productive.

The founders of Twitter never dreamed of the many creative and amazing ways their platform is being used. It is the de facto “second screen” for TV viewing. It a powerful research tool. It is where news breaks. I could go on and on.

Who knows what the future may hold? Let’s just stay loose and enjoy the ride. We’ll figure it out together, as we always do.

Comments?

All posts

  • Claudia Licher

    Hi Mark, thanks for not purging ๐Ÿ™‚
    I just tried to imagine you walking in town somewhere having to say hi to 100.000 people in the street. It would never stop.
    In the end, people know where to find you. That’s the main thing. Keep up the good work!

  • Congrats Mark!!! I should hit the 50k mark this week. I often am tempted to purge and start over, but my thoughts match yours! Here’s to another 100k!

  • Good analogy Claudia. Thanks for commenting.

  • Awesome Mandy. Good to hear.

  • Hey Mark,

    Thanks so much for sharing your Twitter journey with us. I have loved Twitter ever since I figured it out about seven years ago but took me a few months to really wrap my head around it. When I realized what a powerful tool it is, I dove right in.

    Sadly, most small business owners I talk to are completely mystified by Twitter. I hear “I don’t do Twitter” way too much. I want to change so I will be focusing on Twitter more intensely in my content marketing programs from now on. The Tao of Twitter is on my holiday reading list!

    Thanks for being on Twitter and being such an authentic and always helpful voice there.

    Twitter rocks~ After all, it’s how I found you!

    B

  • Congrats on hitting 100.000 ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve always wondered how accounts with that many followers would handle all the mentions and questions that have to come in… I’m curious: how many questions or comments do you get per day?

    What I find a bit of a shame is that Twitter isn’t as conversational as it used to be. It’s like many people automate everything (which is inheritantly fine) but don’t bother replying to questions or comments anymore.

  • Thanks for sharing Betsy. The Tao of Twitter is definitely the way to go for anybody struggling with Twitter. It has helped thousands of people.

  • The number of mentions I get a day is not a metric that I track. Doesn;t really move the needle, but if I had to guess I would say I average a couple hundred a day. On a day that I give a speech it could easily be over 1,000 in a day.

    I get a lot of comments and questions in there and I try to respond to them all unless it is something like “what is the value of a business plan.” How am I supposed to answer that in a tweet? Another one I hate is “what is making you smile today?” I hate crap like that which is artificial engagement. I can’t imagine walking up to a stranger in the airport and asking them what is making them smile! : )

  • Haha these are both strange tweets. I do get strange mentions as well. Like last time “I like yogurt :=)”…

  • MrTonyDowling

    Hi Mark!
    Wow.. 100,000, and as you say, 100K GENUINE followers at that.
    Its a terrific endorsement of your ability to inform and entertain. But its also another reason Twitter continues to fascinate. There you are, by no means a main stream ‘celeb’ with a TV show or anything, but with the ‘pull’ to amass your very own tribe 100 thousand people strong! Amazing!
    Over the years I’ve been rapt with attention as Twitter has grown and developed and I’ve also seen you, your ‘brand’ and your activities do the same.
    Its been a wonderful journey and one I’m proud to say I’ve occasionally and momentarily shared with you, and as the other commentators have said, I really do look forward to the next 100,000!
    It will be great to see how Twitter continues to develop and you too Mark, in my opinion the number one Twitter guy on the planet ๐Ÿ™‚ And a damn fine human being to boot.
    All the very best my friend ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Congratulations! I’ve learned so much about Twitter from you. I still struggle to keep up with it, though lists have helped a lot. It’s been funny to realize that I’m introvert in my real life and kind of in my social media. So I have to pace myself. And there are days I have to take a break.

    But there is no question that my followers began to grow after I read one of your posts on funny bios and changed my bio. It’s not LOL like those you shared but apparently a lot of people like a) bacon and b) chocolate. (grin) Thanks for learning AND sharing what you learn. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I used to really love Twitter and now I just love it. Part of it is because it takes much more effort to make it work as it used to and my time seems to be more limited than ever before.

    But the magic is still there and there is no doubt that people look/treat you differently when you have a certain number of followers. It really can open up some doors.

  • Awesome. Congrats. Loved to read how you like lists. I love ’em. Even though it seems at times that Twitter does not share that love. Even though I’m nowhere near your number of followers, I also use list to organize, and to game the system a bit. Not sure how it was when you had aorund 2000 followers, but now, if you have less than 2000 followers, you cannot follow more than 2000 others. Lists help me to do just that, and keep track of it.

    Would you consider/have you considered turning to alternative platforms (Ello, Path, Yammer even) for the chitchat?

    Anyway, great to read your views on Twitter and using it. I do hope you still enjoy it.

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: Cyber Monday Social Conversations, Finding Your Marketing Flaws & Mobile Design Tips()

  • Many thanks for this very kind comment my friend. Happy that we became a case study!

  • awesome. Love it when a plan comes together: )

  • certainly true. always an honor to have you comment Jack!

  • I have a presence on those platforms but they have not sufficiently distracted me like Twitter!

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: Cyber Monday Social Conversations, Finding Your Marketing Flaws & Mobile Design Tips « TLC Niche Marketing()

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: Cyber Monday Social Conversations, Finding Your Marketing Flaws & Mobile Design Tips | Advertised Free()

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: Cyber Monday Social Conversations, Finding Your Marketing Flaws & Mobile Design Tips | CABizNews.com()

  • I have a bunch of great marketing books sitting next to my bed. Problem is, by the time I go to bed, I want a break from this stuff! My new strategy is to have the book next to me while I’m working and read a chapter every time I finish a task. I’ll let you know how it works for me!

  • Social_Ben

    Really enjoyed your post Mark. You have always inspired from your book, talks and posts. I look forward to much more inspiration

  • Thank you sir. Miss you guys!

  • Congrats on hitting 100K followers, Mark! And I will confess… I love your tweets!

  • Thanks!

  • Congratulations, Mark- you really deserve it. We all know numbers aren’t everything, but there’s something lovely when you hit those big numbers. I remember hitting 1,000 followers, then 2,000 and 10,000 felt good. However, it’s about community and relationships and that’s what makes it refreshing that you have 100,000 genuine followers. I’ve seen so many examples of so-called “social media gurus” with very little engagement who have 100,000 or more followers. It aint pretty!

    I know you’ve stopped saying thanks on social media, reluctantly, but how do you make sense of mentions and replies? You said below that you can get up to 1,000 of those in one day sometimes, but you can’t reply to all of them. Do you just try and respond to as many as you can, or give up, or do you have another strategy? It could end up consuming all your time.

  • Crystal Nelson

    Useful post! I too want to share!

    Since my childhood I liked to draw. Mom supported me
    in this, and I took up professional painting. I do not know I would be a famous
    artist, full of oil painting or pastel – too serious for me. And this means not
    interested.

    I am very lucky, I just found a team where I work now:
    Black and White Marketing. Came across on the Internet to their website and
    thought, why not. Paint designs for websites, brands and advertising for
    companies – it is very entertaining!

    Moreover, I always wanted to have my work pleasing to
    the eye a large audience. Therefore, with each project, I try more and more to
    one day draw something, from which the company gained worldwide fame and
    everyone will see my work. No, it’s not vanity. It is rather the desire to have
    my work appreciated.

    My new team I really like, especially the cohesion and
    coherence of the team. In Black and White Marketing I met with good artists,
    they often help me and I learned a lot from them!

  • Congratulations, Mark! 100k is a big number!

  • Well, I know I wrote that post about not saying thank you, but actually I say thank you a lot! I try to be nice, but not annoying!

    Most “mentions” I get are RT of a blog post, podcast, speech, or piece of content mentioning me created by somebody else. I don’t respond to those. I would go crazy trying to do so and it would consume my time all day.

    However, if somebody sends me a direct question or comment, I do my best to respond unless it is spammy or something dumb like “what is making you smile today Mark?” I don’t have time for silliness. But if people make an attempt at authentic connection, I domy best to respond although I fear some does slip through the cracks.

  • Thank you.

  • I face the same problem. A lot of ground to cover! That’s why I am dedicated to writing very short useful books!

  • I have Tao of Twitter on the way to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thanks, Mark! I was being a little facetious with my comment about your “thank you” article. I, like you, try and respond to questions, replies or comments. I’m not able to reply to every RT, and I’m not entirely sure of the value of that. It’s a difficult one!

    The problem is that it’s difficult to sift through the mentions stream and prioritize the comments I want to reply to. I’ve used a tool called communit which I like a lot and I build my own Twitter tool which basically filters my mentions stream too. I just wish Twitter gave us more power to filter our streams- it would make life a lot easier.

    But hold on Mark, you say you “don’t have time for silliness”? All I can say is, Google Pants! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Pingback: Marketing Automation โ€“ Itโ€™s Not All Evil!()

  • ??

    Can we friends? Skype(yz3319)???????,

  • Pingback: 6 Signs A Twitter Account May Not Be Worth Your Attention()

  • Pingback: 6 Signs A Twitter Account May Not Be Worth Your Attention - BlackSheep()

The Marketing Companion Podcast

Why not tune into the worldโ€™s most entertaining marketing podcast that I co-host with Tom Webster.

View details

Let's plot a strategy together

Want to solve big marketing problems for a little bit of money? Sign up for an hour of Markโ€™s time and put your business on the fast-track.

View details

Close