Anil Dash has a great blog post up today entitled “Nobody Has A Million Twitter Followers.”  Dash was added to the Twitter suggested followers list in October, and as a result saw his number of followers jump from 18,000 to 300,000.  Even though Dash’s number of followers increased dramatically, the number of interactions he was having did not go up.  At 300,000, the number of retweets and replies he was getting were the same as when he was at 18,000.  His conclusion: the people who followed him via Twitter’s suggested user list aren’t truly engaged in his content to the extent that the followers he acquired organically are.  And all the folks on Twitter’s suggested user lists who have over a million followers probably only have a few hundred truly thousand engaged followers.  Dash writes:

Does that mean Twitter’s follower counts are lying? No. Instead, Twitter accounts that have over half a million followers listed actually represent (at most) a few hundred thousand people who’ve chosen to become organic followers of someone, along with millions who are passively along for the ride. Some of them are inactive users, some are spammers, some just ignore the noise of the accounts that don’t interest them, like spam in an email inbox. But they can’t count as "followers" in any meaningful sense.

I think this lesson extends to all online community building.  Having big numbers is great, but ultimately it is more important to attract people that are truly engaged in your brand, issue or cause.  Don’t chase quantity when what you really need is quality.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.