Numbers Game

Numbers Game

I’m going to contradict myself.

I told you that Twitter is not a numbers game; it’s about relationships and interaction.

I believe wholeheartedly that Twitter is about relationships and interaction. AND. In order to find and form meaningful relationships on Twitter, you have to make it a numbers game.

Mr. Becky and I have this unending conversation, it seems, about Twitter.

He says it’s circular.

You follow people so they’ll follow you, and they’re following you so that you will follow them.

They want to sell you their stuff and you want them to buy your stuff.

You want them to read your blog and they want you to read their blog.

When he describes it that way, it does seem circular. It makes me a little dizzy, in fact.

The only answer I have is the one I gave my friend Jesse Stoner.

Increasing your followers on Twitter is about finding and forming relationships. The more people you follow (and the more people who are following you), the greater the chance that you will find the “right” people.

The right people are the ones who want to interact, the ones who have something to give, the ones who will allow you to give to them.

The right people are the ones:

  • you want to pick up the phone to talk to
  • you’d want to have coffee with if you happened to be in the same place
  • you’d drive out of your way to meet
  • you’d rearrange your schedule to help
  • you can’t wait to meet in person, so you can hug them and thank them for the way their encouragement has influenced you

The right people are also the ones:

  • who are sharing information you’re interested in
  • who have something to sell that you want to buy
  • who are interested in the information you’re sharing
  • who want to buy whatever you’re selling

Twitter needs to be a numbers game because there is no way to predict who those right people are going to be. If there were, I could follow twenty or thirty people and be done.

Twitter is a numbers game to me because numbers represent possibility and the potential for rich, meaningful interaction.

Here are a few tips about growing your Twitter following:

  • Consider automation. There are a lot of great tools out there to help you increase your followers (my favorite: Tweetadder). I know a lot of people who shun these tools because they want to carefully consider each person they follow. I understand that AND it’s extremely time consuming. You’ll have more time to interact if you automate some of the process.
  • Be patient. I spent many many many months growing my first Twitter account, organically. When I started my new account, last November, it grew much more quickly, partly because I had invested so much time in building relationships already. Many people instantly followed my new account. If you are starting from nothing, growth will be slow, even with automation. But that’s okay, because it’s not really about the numbers, it’s about the interaction.
  • Be the right kind of person. In order to find the right people, you need to be the right kind of person. Be the one who is sharing, giving, and encouraging and you will find others who are doing the same.
  • Look for real connections. As  your numbers grow, spend time getting to know your followers. Reach out, initiate conversation. Each follower represents amazing potential.

Tell me something! Am I contradicting myself? How important are numbers to you on Twitter? What are your best tips for gaining followers? What do you think about automating processes on Twitter?

Filed As:  Jesse Stoner, Connections

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • I don’t think you are contradicting yourself at all. Your core is genuine engagement and you understand the odds that not all your twitter numbers will engage and become real relationships. I am still shying away from automation, purely for my own personal benefit. I am growing slowly organically as I can then manage breaking the ice and knowing who wants to break the ice with me or who is happy with the ice as it is! No harm in it, and you move on. I so dig your list, and for me I would add – the right people are the ones who want to position you to other people that might be of benefit to your services. I do believe you have to kiss your frogs, before finding your prince/ princess, so twitter is about mining though the use of a numbers game!

    • Thabo – I totally agree with you on taking an organic approach to build meaningful connections. When the core purpose is engagement, sharing and collaborating, watching the number helps. My experience is that you have to constantly watch the follower/following list, and reconcile it from time to time. Whenever I follow new folks, I look at the list of people I follow, and unfollow a few. This helps me stay connected to people who really add value through their tweets/conversations.

  • Becky, great observations. Being the “right kind of person” is an absolute necessity. If you’re authentic, you’ll find people who share an authentic interest in the same things. You’ll also find some who are not authentic. But you certainly won’t find them if you’re not authentically the “right kind of person.”

    Tell Mr. Becky I said Hi!


    • Becky,

      A very wise colleague once told me “the cream rises to the top” meaning that the best and the brightest people will naturally surface and make themselves known. I believe this is true with one’s Twitter followers.

      After the initial euphoria of having folks follow me back on Twitter, I now pay relatively little attention to the actual numbers. Instead, I focus on what you call the “right” people—those with whom I feel some sort of “spark” when reading their tweets. Then I reach out to form a deeper connection—like I’ve done with you. It’s a strategy that has worked well for me.

  • Beck-

    Totally agree. A social media presence takes time to grow and cultivate. Unfortunately, some people want to skip all that and get right to being perceived as a big social media influencer. But to me, that’s faking it.

    In short, anything worth having is worth working, and waiting, for.

  • Hi Becky,

    As you know, I’m one of the people who was spending a lot of time deciding who to follow. Your good advice makes a lot of sense: “The more people you follow (and the more people who are following you), the greater the chance that you will find the “right” people.” And your tips are very helpful. Thanks for listing them.

    Tell Mr. Becky that I think he’s right, but he’s also missing an important point: it’s all about the conversations.

    • My answer is in a post I did over on Facebook March 4th. >>> “I’m getting close to FIVE THOUSAND followers on Twitter! FIVE THOUSAND!!! Well, honestly, about 4940 are lurkers and marketers who have little or no interest in the Simple Encouragement® Movement whatsoever. Nonetheless, I ABSOLUTELY CHERISH the sixty or so who really do care and connect! Lesson 1: Beware of appearances and comparisons based on numbers alone; they can deceive and leave you deflated. Lesson 2: Devote yourself to the devoted; it’s upon their hearts that you write your legacy, and through their lives, you multiply. Lesson 3: Ultimately, numbers don’t count. You’re a “star” to someone, so shine brightly!” >>> As I read your list of “The right people are the ones”… I think of the multitude of folks right here in my hometown that I haven’t met yet; the ones who I can have coffee with, share a hug, or offer some Simply Encouraging® gesture! Hmmmm, I might be morphing into “Mr. Becky” right before the very eyes of this community! 🙂 Could it be that “fishing” where we can throw the literal net makes more sense?

      • Hey, Thomas… THAT TOO I have done through Twitter! Through my Spanish account, I have met a few people here in my city that I would otherwise have had a hard time encountering…My first tweetup was a book presentation all the way downtown where I got to put faces to a bunch of people I already tweeted with. It was an endearning experience to meet for the first time people I felt already connected to.

  • Hi, Becky,

    I absolutely agree with you. You need to find your “right people” and you can only do that by engaging.

    The biggest problem I see with Twitter is the use of bots. The use of twitter has become so automated that it is actually becoming difficult to find real people that will take the time to interact. That’s why the first thing I look for when someone follows me is lots of @ replies. That indicates to me that there is a real person behind the profile who is willing to engage in conversation and not just broadcast.

    Still trying to get all this Twitter stuff figured out, so I appreciate your perspective. I’m just working hard trying to keep my Twitter stream from getting filled up with lots of clutter.

  • Dear Becky –

    Being fairly new to both Twitter and Blogging, I have had questions about the netiquette of following and followers. Though initially hesitant, I am learning, as you pointed out, that the more people I reach, the great the odds of finding those with whom there are authentic connections and common values.

    Still, whether I have 1 or 1,000 followers, I am grateful to each person who has reached out to tell me how my insights have touched them in some way. There is power in connection and community, and I, too, continue to learn from you and others whose paths have crossed my own out here in Twitter and Blog land.

  • Becky, I applaud the thoughtful discussion that you and your husband have been having on this subject. Is he on Twitter? I ask because his views sound like a non-user…accurate to a point, but seemingly missing the heart that a thoughtful user like you have discovered.

    Like you, as my numbers have grown organically (FYI, I do not use an automated tool for adding), I have found that I have continued to get to know and develop meaningful relationships with such awesome people. Because my business travels take me all over the country, I have broken bread with many of my new found Twitter friends. This has added richness to my life.

    In so many ways, Twitter is, for me, a mirror of life. As with life, I have found that what you give to the Twitter community is directly proportionate to that which you get. Anyone wanting more from Twitter, need only give more.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful commentary on how to get the most from time invested with Twitter.

  • Hi Becky!

    Great discussion… you present thoughtful perspectives on both sides of the coin. My favorite part of this post (actually made me smile):

    “Twitter needs to be a numbers game because there is no way to predict who those right people are going to be. If there were, I could follow twenty or thirty people and be done.”

    There I just read it again and it made me smile again! You are SO right!!! It is a numbers game that enables you to build relationships with the right people. LOVE that!

    New people I follow on Twitter are generally following or RTing the people I have build relationships with. Also, for TweetDeck users, I have discovered a great feature: The New Followers column, where I can read about who is following me, if they have a photo, a description and tweets that resonate with my interests. This has been a very useful tool for me.

    I cherish the comments on this post from wonderful friends I have gotten to know on Twitter, and have cultivated this connection via phone and in person. (Side bar note: you are so great at cultivating rich discussions!)

    I feel honored to be one of the right people that you met on Twitter! 🙂 YOU are definitely right people too! And thankful for the tweet that sent me here!


  • Becky,

    What a wonderful thoughtful and practical post. I’m so glad you shared it with me and I, in turn, will share it with my networks. And, oh, by the way, you’re one of the “right people” too.

  • You pose a fine question, Becky, but I don’t think there’s a universal answer. It varies a lot with who you are and your purpose for going using Twitter.

    There are people who approach it in a way Mr. Becky would appreciate. They see Twitter as something like a mailing list. For them, the more followers they get, the better because they get more business. It can work that way.

    There are others who are famous by some measure before they begin using Twitter. They have to pull back some on the relationships or they would spend their who day “interacting” without get much done.

    There are people who are on Twitter for a bit of both. I’m one. I joined Twitter last year because Art Petty told me I should and I listen to Art when he’s directive like that. I gave myself three months to evaluate whether Twitter was good for business and someplace I wanted to be.

    Within a month, I knew that it was both. I can tell you that Twitter drives an increase in blog readership for me which, in turn, drives an increase in business. I also knew that Twitter was a perfect environment for me to do things that I love to do: share information; make friends; help people do better. And there’s a “numbers game” aspect to this for me.

    Twitter is part of my commercial/social world so I make sure that I have a minimum number of Tweets per day on workdays. Some of those (I have a maximum number I won’t exceed) will be promotional. For me it’s a work standard, like the number of blog posts per week.

    I track the number of followers because it’s a rough indicator of whether I’m doing the right stuff. If it keeps moving upward, that’s good, but I’m more concerned that the people I want to do business with are filling the ranks, than I am with whether the entire population of the Western Hemisphere will become followers. For my whole career, good business for me has been about connecting with people who can benefit from what I have to offer and vice versa. I’m not going to abandon that for a “Most Followers” strategy after all this time.

  • Becky, aloha. Glad that you reached out to me today so that we connected. When I receive a follow request, I always look to see what the person has to say on their blor/website. Becky, I very much like what you have to say in this post and look forward to reading more.

    Quite honestly, you are the person first I have seen who has defined the “right person” as you have and I agree with you 100%–maybe that’s why I think your post is so good.

    Seriously, if people followed your advice they would have much better experiences in the twitterverse.

    Enjoy a great rest of the weekend. Aloha. Janet

  • Wow – what a day. My husband and I hosted a family party today – 20 people in our home for a Mexican feast. While I enjoyed family connections, you all were adding your wisdom and insights here. Thank you!

    I know many of you from Twitter. You are all the right people. I am honored and blessed by my connection to you.

    Sharon and Janet, our connection is new. I look forward to getting to know each of you and I want you to know that I appreciate you taking the time to read my words and share your thoughts. I hope you will join more conversations here.

    Now – clean up from the party awaits.

    I hope to see you on Twitter (and here) very soon. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you make connections!

  • WOW! Look at all these comments – great job on creating an inviting space for dialogue, Becky. Like you, and many others have posted, Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn for me (and the clients for whom I manage their social media) is not about what can YOU do for me, it’s about what can I do to add breadth and depth to the connections and relationships you (the client) already have. I only accept clients who agree with this philosophy, and while there are analytics needed to document ROI, the greater value is the intangible wisdom, resources, and broadening the circle of influence that does develop organically, with the right people at the right time.

    Automation helps from a social media management standpoint, but I also have my fingers do the talking, one-to-one, with followers, friends, mentors, heroes, and the thousands of others who have blessed me with their Twitterness. =)

    Making the connection is the first step. What you do with the connection is where the magic really happens.

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