How Important are Twitter Follower Counts?


Is it important for users on Twitter to be able to see the number of followers they have? Last week, in an interview, Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO, saus people shouldn’t obsess over the number of followers they have and that instead should be seeking meaningful conversations.  Is he right?

In a way yes, and then possibly no. Anyone on Twitter occasionally sees a tweet by someone saying “Lets get [person] to 5,000 followers, [he/she] is only 500 away.”. I personally ignore those because it doesn’t really matter that much after a certain point how many followers anyone has if they never have a conversation with more than just of few of the same followers.

Evan Wiliams, another founder called these counts a distraction and turned the platform into a popularity contest. Using the example above, he’d be right but then having a large following is helpful if you blog, or on YouTube, or other platforms as it can, and is, used to announce new content. Every blog post I create (like this one) is tweeted out to my followers so that they may have the opportunity to come to this site and read the current nonsense I am blogging about, It’s also nice to know if I’ve received new followers over time. I’m not so much obsessed with the number (mine is actually quite small), as I am who is a follower and if I am unable to see these, I can’t for sure know if I’m blogging to the right audience.

I follow and am followed by a diverse group. I always try to follow other atheists and skeptics as I can, and am grateful when the same follw me/follow me back. Most others don’t actually care about these topics, but atheists do – at least to a degree. There used to be an activity when I first began on Twitter, back in 2011, called Follow Friday (#FF). I was a good way, as a new online atheist for me to find others on the platform, and after a while I found my then username included ocassionally and it helped, when I started this blog in 2012, to increase my readership.

There are people that used to inflate their follow numbers in buying followers. Yes, that’s right. At one time for around $20 a pewrson could add a few thousand “followers” to their count. How many of these were real no one knows but there were apps that could be run against an account to determine how many fake accounts a person was being followed by. Fake popularity. I think Twitter brought a hammer down on that a long while back but still, today, it’s nearly impossible to determine who’s real or not.

So there’s an upside and a downside to p[eople seeing their followers/follower count. Ye, it can be a popularity contest for some but for others, it’s a way to know the reach of the content that has been created. Will Twitter remove this feature? We’ll know the day we wake up and it’s gone.


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