Whenever I give a social media training workshop, I emphasize the value of quality over quantity on Twitter. It’s much better to have genuine influence and engagement with a smaller, but highly relevant group than to have a bunch of “Twitter collectors,” kids or, worst of all, spammers trying to get you to follow back.
Well, Newt Gingrich told the Marietta Daily Journal on Sunday that the press is ignoring his large Twitter audience: “I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined, but it didn’t count because if it counted I’d still be a candidate; since I can’t be a candidate that can’t count.”
Gingrich is right. He currently boasts 1,325,842 followers, whereas competitors Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann have less than 100,000.
So, what happens when you complain that the media isn’t paying attention to your Twitter account? The media pays attention to your Twitter account. Unfortunately, for Gingrich, it wasn’t good news.
An analysis of his followers reveals about 80% of the accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various “follow agencies.” Another 10% are real people who are part of #WeFollowBack and #TeamFollowBack, a network of folks who follow others back and who pay for followers themselves. The remaining 10% appear to be genuine supporters.
Politico defended Gingrich, “It’s his personal touch: He tweets and manages his Twitter feed himself, his campaign confirmed to POLITICO. All told, he has tweeted 2,611 times in the 29 months since he joined the site.”
While it would be impossible to survey all of Gingrich’s followers, a cursory glance immediately turned up a few accounts that featured odd names, no personal information, no followers, no posts, and a small follow list, which shows the other reason not to fake followers – it’s easy for everyone to see who they are and are not.
The point is this: you get out of Twitter what you put into it. I have around 2,600+ followers. Not that many considering my field. But, every one of them is genuinely interested in talking about marketing and social media engagement with me. Every one of them brings value to me through discussion and link sharing. I would much rather have real, valuable engagement with a smaller group of people than a high number of spammers and Justin Bieber fans just looking to collect followers. And, you should too.