It’s quite a big deal. Follows have become the most immediate metric of any twitter user’s importance vis a vis other Twitter users. The more followers you have, the more influence you are deemed to create. Take a look at the some of the most popular personalities in the world right now, The Baracks, The Gates, The Oprahs and more recently The Trumps. They all flaunt enormous followings on their Twitter profiles. The impression created is that people generally want to listen to what they say. And more often than not that is truly the case. Take a look at famous brands, Coca Cola, KFC, McDonalds, Safaricom. They all have similarly large followings which completely match their real world reputations.
While having a large following might mean that you have more influential power. A number of more advanced social media examiners might disagree slightly with this assertion. Why? Because not all followers/followings are made equal. You might have the numbers but do you have the quality? Quality means having an audience that matters. How often are they on Twitter? How often do they tweet? Do they respond to mentions? And are they even interested in what you talk about? Do they offer business value?
If you recall that first moment when you joined twitter, a number of follow suggestions were immediately made to you. These were ideally the brands you were expected to follow in line with what you described as your interests. Over time, the number of Twitter users worldwide has become so large that suggesting only a few brands is nearly impossible. There is simply too much competition for any one account to totally dominate one niche. So how do you get the right audience to follow you?
Why get followers?
The first key step is to identify why you want to be followed. Being followed is actually more overrated than you think. Do you want to communicate to a mass market? Do you want to create an impression of expertise? Do you want to genuinely just share valuable information? Do you want to entertain? Do you want to inspire as many people as possible?
Essentially the better question becomes, should you even be looking for followers?
If you are a big brand, having a big followership is the way to go. If you are a content publishing handle, a large following is likewise good. If you are looking to generate the impression of expertise, and to come out as an authoritative brand, having a moderate to large followership will serve you right.
However, if you are a start-up company or an upcoming personal brand, followership matters less than the ability to connect. You are more likely going to benefit from having real conversation with people than publishing general content to all of them at once. The tweets you make to your followers would ideally just represent remarkable progress you are making as a brand. However your goal as a tiny start-up would be to get into the right partnerships and bump the right customers on a minuscule level.
Followee becomes the follower
In fact, as a small brand, company or start-up, your focus should be more on following than being followed. Following key profiles will give you opportunities to connect and start conversations than anything else.
Consider your following list as an investment in ice breakers.
Focusing on following will enable you to follow users who could become potential clients. For anyone in the service industry or B2B such a strategy would be pure gold. If you are in the product business but on a smaller scale or in a niche product, the same approach would apply.
At the end of the day the value of your following or followership must be clear before you set out on a campaign to build one. Ask yourself whether it adds more worth to your brand to follow someone or to be followed by someone.