The never-ending question of quality vs quantity of Twitter Followers is similar to the argument of how many people you should connect with on LinkedIn or “friend” on any of the social media platforms. Without enough connections on LinkedIn, you might not show up in as many search results as a 2nd degree connection. With Twitter, the Followers vs Following ratio is an important one that will also speak volumes about your Twitter Brand.
My basic framework for how to strategize what you do on social media is the same regardless of social network. It all comes down to your objective, your brand, and implementation of these through the unique functionalities and environments of the different sites. When I see people who only want to connect to a limited amount of people on LinkedIn yet want tons of Followers on Twitter, I see a contradiction, not merely selective people in search of the best.
Why do Followers count on Twitter? Because the more people who follow you, the higher the chance that more people will read your message, assuming it is an engaging piece of content. If your message is a good one, a positive ratio of followers will make it more likely that someone will ReTweet it in their own feed, generating the viral marketing that Twitter is famous for. People with more Followers also seem to have more credibility with some people. Wouldn’t you rather have thousands of followers than a follower count in the hundreds?
Understanding the value of having thousands of people reading your words, as well as the fact that your Twitter Followers vs Following ratio will affect your Twitter Brand, let’s look at what the different ratios below say about people.
Following Someone vs Being a Follower of Someone: What’s the Difference?
Following is external; it means you are reaching out to someone else and taking in their tweets, or disseminating their information. A follower is someone who is taking in the information you are presenting, or following along with their tweets. The differences between the two are important in terms of branding; although you are not required to follow thousands of people to establish yourself as an authority, it can look strange to only have a handful of accounts that you follow, when you have a massive social networking following. Followings can also be important for branding, as the people and businesses that you follow can give your followers an idea of who you are and what your brand is all about, while the people who follow you may, industry influencers though they may be, may not speak as loudly to your brand.
Why Does the Twitter Following vs Followers Ratio Matter?
There are two reasons why maintaining a healthy ratio is important:
1. Personal Branding
This ratio is not merely a vanity metric; it can do wonders to boost a followers campaign. For instance, if you follow a slew of social media companies, brands, and influencers, but only have friends and family members following you, you cannot expect a high engagement rate, or to be seen as an industry authority. This kind of negative ratio can harm your personal branding, as it suggests that you do not have many things of value to say, but have plenty of time and energy to consume what others are saying.
2. Twitter Limitations
New Twitter accounts can only follow up to 5,000 accounts on the platform, and cannot follow more until you yourself have 5,000 followers.
Not that I recommend you follow people for a follow back, but if you want to be able to follow more people on Twitter and increase your chances of a follow back outside of your engagement, you need to be aware of and properly manage the Twitter following vs followers ratio.
Twitter Following vs Followers Ratio and Your Personal Branding
This ratio will indirectly become an integral part of your personal branding on Twitter and will thus subconsciously influence whether people follow you back, add you to a list, engage with your tweets when they see it on their timelines, etc.
Let’s dig deeper into how this works and the benefits of having a positive ratio.
1) 10 Following 100 Followers = 10.0 Ratio
This person has a 10.0 ratio of Followers to Following. This appears to be an ideal ratio to achieve, in that this person evidently has something to say that a lot of people that he doesn’t know find interesting. Thus the large ratio number. If you are looking for people to follow in hopes that they will follow you back, however, you may not want to follow this person unless they have something really important to say. Achieving this ratio can be difficult. If you tweet good content, your Follower numbers will organically grow over time, but what about the potential opportunity cost of late time-to-market for your message? So, your Twitter Brand here is either a Rockstar or someone trying to do things the old-fashioned way without maximizing what they could be doing with Twitter. I will also add that this Twitter Brand could be a negative one: Why doesn’t this account follow their followers? Are all of their Followers spammers?
2) 100 Following 100 Followers = 1.0 Ratio
Some people say, “Yes, of course, they are just following everyone who follows them back, so a 1.0 ratio is an easy number to achieve.” Well, if you have ever tried it, you will realize that even if you follow 100 people, chances are on average that only 10 to 20 of those people will follow you back. Add in the fact that many spammers who auto-follow you will stop following you once they have sent you a Direct Message, and you can see how this is not an easy task to accomplish. I believe that this is a healthy ratio which also tells new people that if they follow you chances are you will follow them back. It displays a Twitter Brand that says “We are in this together so let’s get to know each other.”
3) 100 Following 10 Followers = 0.1 Ratio
This one is an obvious red flag. Evidently this person thinks that following many many more people will lead to more Followers, but with this sort of ratio, not only will only the spammers be following back this person, but Twitter may soon close down this account! Suffice to say this is a lopsided ratio that you never want to display unless you want to get your Twitter account restricted!
Further Reading: 13 Best AI Twitter Generators for Tweeting
So what is the Ideal Ratio?
It will change depending on how many Followers you have. The more followers you have, the easier it is to keep the ratio above 1.0.
If you are under the 5,000 follower threshold, you’ll want to keep the ratio in a range near 1.0 (0.75 to 1.25, we’ll say) if you want to grow your Twitter Followers. Anything above that shows that you may not have anything interesting to say and below that range may indicate that you don’t care about who follows you and may not follow them back, anyway (of course, if you are a famous celebrity, you can get away with following nobody).
For those who scoff, I’ll ask this: “You are on Twitter with hopes of increasing your followers, right?” And there are so many great people to follow on Twitter! Twitter has hundreds of millions of Twitter users that you can follow and potentially develop a relationship with, both from a personal accounts and business accounts perspective.
When someone doesn’t increase their LinkedIn Connections out of their physical network, I let it be known that they are wasting their time on LinkedIn. I think the same can be said for your Twitter Following vs Follower ratio. If your ratio is too skewed from the 1.0 standard, unless you have already grown a large enough follower base where it doesn’t really matter, it could be sending the wrong message that will adversely affect your Twitter Brand. You could potentially be wasting your time on Twitter following too few and be seen as someone with nothing valuable to say if you follow too many. It is healthy to follow people you don’t know if they are speaking on a subject that you are interested in. And I assume these are the people that you also want to follow you. So why not display this brand in your ratio of Following to Followers and attract them?
What are the Twitter Following vs Followers Ratios of Twitter Influencers?
If you want to see ratios in action, here’s the current follower / following ratio for some of the Twitter influencers in marketing that have large followings. In sharing this, I hope you can understand the current ranges and use them as inspiration! Note that I made these as percentages of following to followers, with the lower the number the higher the above ration would calculate to be:
- Jeff Bullas: 37.6% (211K Following, 561.2K Followers)
- Mari Smith: 49.2% (273.7K Following, 555.8K Followers)
- Ann Handley: 25.6% (119K Following, 458.5K Followers)
- Chris Brogan: 2.2% (701 Following, 316.5K Followers)
- Jay Baer: 10.3% (28.1K Following, 271.6K Followers)
- Jeremiah Owyang: 5.4% (13.5K Following, 248K Followers)
- Neal Schaffer: 19.7% (45.1K Following, 228.9K Followers)
- Mark Schaefer: 16.0% (27.2K Following, 169.8K Followers)
- John Lincoln: 41.6% (69.9K Following, 168.2K Followers)
- Joe Pulizzi: 2.4% (372 Following, 152.6K Followers)
If we remove the two extremes (2 highest and 2 lowest), we can see there is a range from 5.4% to 37.6% with an average of those 6 tweeters of 19.1%. Hopefully this serves as a guide as to what ratio you might want to aim for.
I’d love to hear about your Twitter Followers vs Following policies! Please tell!
Hero photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash
Twitter Following vs Followers FAQs
From a professional perspective, having a considerable number of followers usually signifies that your content is engaging and informative. It also showcases your ability to attract and maintain a loyal audience, which is a valuable asset for marketers and businesses. However, it’s also essential to have a healthy balance of people you follow to keep up with what’s trendy and to keep learning from other experts in your field.
When it comes to social media, the great debate often centers on determining whether it’s better to have more followers or to follow more people. Followers are often seen as a measure of popularity and success, while following others can be a way to stay up-to-date on news and trends in your industry. The truth is, both are important in their own way. Followers can help spread your message far and wide and boost your credibility within your niche, while following others can help you develop meaningful relationships and connect with new opportunities.
Followers are individuals who have chosen to subscribe to your content, allowing them to see updates and posts on their own feed. Following, on the other hand, refers to the accounts that you have chosen to subscribe to in order to see their content on your feed. Understanding the difference between the two can help you better navigate the platform and tailor your interactions to best suit your needs.
Beyond the vanity metric of having a higher follower count, having a strong following on Twitter can help businesses build credibility, increase brand awareness, and expand their reach to potential customers. With each follower comes the opportunity to engage with a new audience and potentially convert them into loyal customers. So if you’re looking to harness the power of social media for your business, building a solid Twitter following is a smart place to start.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game, it’s important to remember that the quality of your followers is just as important (if not more so) than the quantity. Having a large number of followers may give you a more prominent presence online, but if they aren’t actively engaged with your content or aligned with your brand, their value is limited.