Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable tool in business-to-business communications. However, too often an account is deemed successful simply because it has a large number of followers.
It’s challenging work gaining new followers and engaging them in a conversation. I’m currently in charge of four accounts — three for clients and one of my own that I routinely ignore. The top account has followers numbering in the low thousands. It continues to gather new followers, add retweets and garner new mentions each month. Of course I would like, but never expect, it to join top dogs like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, President Obama and the New York Times — accounts with millions of followers.
Then today, I received an email offering 1 million Twitter followers for $2,950. Wow, that’s still short of cracking the top 1,000, but within potential range of Twitter middleweights such as Paul McCartney, Carrie Underwood, the MythBusters TV show and aged playboy, Hugh Heffner.
Wouldn’t almost any client be ecstatic to have more than 1 million followers? And it would cost them less than a third of a penny each. Unfortunately, the offer goes against good Twitter business practices and I can’t recommend the idea. Here’s why:
- No doubt the vast majority of new followers would be egg heads — the fake accounts without a profile picture or bio that use the egg logo supplied by Twitter. These accounts follow many, but have few followers, if any, of their own. They largely exist to inflate the number of followers of legitimate accounts. In the summer of 2011, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was accused of buying too many of his 1.3 million followers. His large following backfired on him.
- This type of follower, even if real, isn’t sincerely committed to a company, candidate or celebrity. Within a short time, they will go away or just sit without ever offering a retweet, mention or direct message. They will not help to attract legitimate followers or drive new business opportunities.
- A Twitter account can’t be judged successful solely on how many followers it has. It should be attracting the best group of followers for your organization. You want people, real people, to be interested in what you have to say. You want to showcase your expertise. You want to engage in conversations. You want to create opportunities to expand your influence and gain business. If dedicated, a smaller band of followers is always preferable.
It would be nice to claim more than a million followers for each of my accounts. But for the vast majority of businesses, that’s not going to happen. Like just about everything in life, a successful Twitter presence takes hard work. You need to understand your market. You need to stay on top of industry events. You need to identify and follow major influencers. You need to tweet at times to best reach your followers. You need to tweet often enough, but not too much. And all that may win you only five to 10 new followers on a good day, but you’ll know you’re doing it the right way.