Before we start with the list, let’s be clear on what we are talking about. “Follow-back” is this trend on wich a Twitter user is continually following as many people as he or she can –even random ones-, in order to grow their account by hoping the rest “follow the rule” and follow back.
“I follow you, if you follow me”, that’s the basic statement.
That’s what I call the Twitter Follow-Back Syndrome.
Anyway, this shouldn’t be an issue except for the very single reason that is a widespread tendency on Twitter. People are using this as a strategy; they even discuss about the limits that Twitter set automatically to restrict the follow attempts.
The main characteristic of this trend is that you can grow quickly your followers, but in order to keep it, you have to follow back those people who follow you. So you end with a large number of followers (wich is good), but at same time, following almost that same number of people (wich is impractical).
Basically, in this trend, everybody is following everybody… but nobody is listening.
Of course, this set a few questions for us:
Is this the kind of followers I want?
Should I accept the ‘deal’ and follow back?
And, it worth it?
So here are some interesting facts to help us answer those questions and explain the reason I made the list.
According to statisticbrain.com, in their Statistic Verification of 5.7.2013, the Total number of active registered Twitter users at that time was: 554,570,000.
Also they calculate the Average number of tweets per day, that happens to be the awesome amount of 58 millions.
With this numbers we can now calculate an estimate of tweets per day per active user.
58 millions / 554,750,000 = 0.105 tweets/day/user
This figure looks too low to be real. We can easily estimate that any person tweet something at least once at the day, or more. But do not get ahead, we will see that although it is low, it will reflect how hard is to engage with people that is already following a lot of people.
Okay, since we have the average tweets per day per active user, we should get the average time it takes to read one single tweet.
According to the article by Nick Carbone of Time NewsFeed, this number will be around 6.6 seconds on average. Which is quite realistic for the 140 characters of a tweet.
Setting an example:
Suppose that one of these people, lets call him ‘Joe’, who are looking to increase their twitter account, follow us. Say that he is follows 5k people and is followed by the same 5k (a very conservative example, we can easily found people over 100k or more).
Like we say, having very similar numbers of both (following and followers), is quite common in this trend.
So, if we fall in the trend and follow-back ‘Joe’ means entering a basket with other 5,000 Twitter users that he has already gathered.
Living in that universe implies that your tweets will be part of a stream of 525 tweets.
( 5,000 users ) x ( 0.105 tweets/day/user ) = 525 tweets
If ‘Joe’ is within the average reading, will take one hour to read every entry he receive in their account. Non stop. Let’s be practical and realistic, does not sounds like something we’re willing to do.
( 525 tweets ) x ( 6.6 secs ) = 3,465 secs / 60 = 57.75 mins ~ 1 hour
Since we chose a conservative example of 5k, begins to be clear the inefficiency of this strategy if we expect some interaction with our new follower. Being honest, the chance to engage with ‘Joe’ looks real low.
Worst if we consider that as time passes, our tweets are washed and buried in the huge pile of new entries.
¡Of course! ¡The hashtags!
Yes, this can be a solution to keep track on the things we are interested, but remember that’s ‘Joe’ interests what we talking about. We want our tweets readed, and found out what he like to read will be tricky.
What about the lists?
They work, in part. But again, what is the chance that ‘Joe’ add us to a not very crouded list, one that he actually read, at the point that we succeed on engage his attention.
In the practice, hashtags or lists help us fragmenting the amount of tweets generated daily, but they become ineffective as they grow a little.
So what we do?
Twitter seems to have become a game of fame and popularity. Undermining the purpose of joining a social network, which is to share part of your life or work.
Fall in this trend will end us buried in a sea of aleatory people that we don’t know, and that actually don’t read us. It worth it? I don’t think so.
That said, here are the 12 reasons not to fall in the “follow-back” trend.
Reason #1 – The Statistical One
The chance to be readed on a 5k basket is 0.1905%. Wich is nothing, not to mention the more populated.
( 1 / 525 ) x 100 = 0.1905%
Reason #2 – The Clear Goals One
You are looking for readers, not a followers goal.
Reason #3 – The Selfish One
You want to be heard, more than being part of anyone else followers number goal.
Reason #4 – The Truth One
It is not real. Those large numbers of followers will give you a false sense of accomplishment. And that’s a trap for your actual success.
Reason #5 – The Good Samaritan One
Your thoughts are important, just like you. It is not nice to see someone trying to use you to pump up their numbers, and you don’t want to do that too.
Reason #6 – The Executive One
Believe it or not, those rich, powerful and very well connected people you want to impress, already know this, and they will give the “right value” to the Twitter numbers you show them.
Reason #7 – The Authentic One
You want to be genuinely popular. Not only pretend to be. The people who follow no more than 1k and have millions of followers should be our role model.
Reason #8 – The Polite One
It is not nice to fix your Twitter Follow-Back Syndrome with a bunch of lists, trashing the rest of tweets of people that supposedly you are following.
Reason #9 – The Embarrassing One
You want in your Twitter account people that are interested in your words, even if it is only one, and always signs as “mom” every tweet.
Reason #10 – The Donkey Work One
Follow indiscriminately it’s easy. Everybody knows that the things that worth in life take time and effort. But if we choose the hard way, you’ll feel great and enjoy better results.
Reason #11 – The Upgrade One
Twitter, as any other social media community, will eventually evolve, and will give their users tools to avoid this follow-back spam, just like they did it with the email.
Reason #12 – The Sincere One
And, because you can met awesome people if you truly become interested in what they have to say.