The secret to Twitter

I’ve been talking to lots of people about Twitter. Why is it so addictive? Why do new tools, shipped for it, like Quotably was tonight, get passed around so fast and talked about so much?

I’ve gone through stages with Twitter. At some point I thought it was important to get lots of followers. But lately I’ve been telling people that the secret to Twitter isn’t how many followers you have, but how many people you are following. Tonight Sheryl asked me to explain more: “why is the secret how many people you follow? Why is it important to follow so many people?”

Here’s why:

1. Getting followed just means you’re popular. Yes, that’s cool, but it hardly will make you interesting. Paris Hilton will have more Twitter members than I will, when she joins.
2. Getting followed a lot might mean you’re using it for a publishing system. If all you have is followers what makes that different from owning a newspaper, a radio station, a TV station, or, even, a Web site? Hint: nothing.
3. If you’re just trying to get followed you’re probably just needing attention or you might be Jason Calacanis.

But what does following a lot of people say?

1. You’re trying to learn more.
2. You’re trying to meet more people.
3. You’re trying to be a better listener.
4. You’re communicating to the world that you’d like to be listened to (golden rule: treat people how you’d like to be treated).
5. You’re trying to find out about more stuff. More events. More stories.

Now, who would you rather hang out with? A person who only talks and doesn’t listen? Or a person who listens to as many people as he can?

I know I’d rather hang out with someone who listens to more people.

Oh, yeah, and many of us on Twitter have been getting messages like what Mike Arrington got tonight. Now, I really don’t care about people who unfollow me anymore. Go ahead. Doesn’t make me feel bad. But the more people I follow, the smarter I get, the more connected I get, the better the experiences I have in life (see previous post).

So, that’s my new story. The secret to Twitter is how many people are you listening to, not how many people are listening to you.

Agree or disagree?

408 thoughts on “The secret to Twitter

  1. Following a lot of people does not mean anything negative just because you want to do so. It is only negative if your 'why' is for spam. Because of encrypted twitter names and other variables, it is necessary to choose many to follow in order to find out more about their value in their tweets to you. It is a way of learning who is out there in Twitter, and finding a variety of topics to discuss with new people you meet.

    Because of the Twitter scrolling format of displaying the tweets, it is not reasonable to expect to keep up with everyone you either follow, or are following you, all the time. The whole world online moves too fast, and how these types of apps help or hinder, are still relatively new on the Internet. Also the word Spam is way overused anymore. I think AOL always SPAMMED the universe with their stuff since the beginning of AOL, but hey, people say no not so because they paid money for it all. Well today there are many types of communications that do not require money upfront in order to get your message out there, so people will take advantage of it.

    Today SPAM is all relative anymore.

  2. I like freedom and when people start dictating a million rules as to what to do, or not do, then it does not feel like American freedom anymore. As soon as something is created like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. people write up stuff that ultimately sets the stage of judging your worth on that site. We are all worthy and just might not fulfill the politically correct platform, which is really what FREEDOM is all about in America. In turn, I take what is said in stride, and go checkout the profiles, etc on my own terms. I also always support the underdog that does not fit the politically correct format.

    Twitter is here to post whatever you want, as long as it is within proper guidelines, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not a celebrity so I have to work harder of course. Usually celebrities do not respond either, so following them is not that beneficial, but more for fun I guess.

  3. What does following a lot of people say?
    It says you’re full of shit if you think people will consider that a positive thing.

    It also indicates you’re using auto-follow applications, and are probably a spammer.

    If you are following people in the thousands, you are not watching anybody’s tweets. The timeline moves too quickly. This is just common sense. I have 500 followers and follow about the same. At any given moment, I am always receiving more tweets than can appear on my screen. Using groups, in TweetDeck, I have a seperate tab for the users I am really following. There’s about 30 of them under “friends”. Sure, I catch the odd tweet here and there, but miss 90% unless I’ve marked you as being of interest.

    This is an odd article with an odd sort of apologetics to spamming. I imagine you’re writing it to explain why you’re using autofollow and spamming techniques? I can see no other reason for this kind of spin. If you’re following thousands of people, it’s not showing us you want to learn, it’s showing us that you want followbacks and that you’re missing 99% of your tweets.

  4. What does following a lot of people say?
    It says you’re full of shit if you think people will consider that a positive thing.

    It also indicates you’re using auto-follow applications, and are probably a spammer.

    If you are following people in the thousands, you are not watching anybody’s tweets. The timeline moves too quickly. This is just common sense. I have 500 followers and follow about the same. At any given moment, I am always receiving more tweets than can appear on my screen. Using groups, in TweetDeck, I have a seperate tab for the users I am really following. There’s about 30 of them under “friends”. Sure, I catch the odd tweet here and there, but miss 90% unless I’ve marked you as being of interest.

    This is an odd article with an odd sort of apologetics to spamming. I imagine you’re writing it to explain why you’re using autofollow and spamming techniques? I can see no other reason for this kind of spin. If you’re following thousands of people, it’s not showing us you want to learn, it’s showing us that you want followbacks and that you’re missing 99% of your tweets.

  5. twitter has become so much spam nowadays, I received like 10 eben pagan follows in like 2 weeks, and it`s really loosing it`s effectivness because of it. Although folks at twitter are trying to weed out the spammers and it really shows that they are making an effort. hope they get better in time

  6. twitter has become so much spam nowadays, I received like 10 eben pagan follows in like 2 weeks, and it`s really loosing it`s effectivness because of it. Although folks at twitter are trying to weed out the spammers and it really shows that they are making an effort. hope they get better in time

  7. Just wanted to point out my auto friend follower software. I’v used it sucessfully very often.

    I have noticed that your follow to follower ratio needs be good or twitter will investigate your account for autofollow reasons, but if you only target people you would normally follow.

    Take a look at it here http://tinyurl.com/autofollowme

  8. Just wanted to point out my auto friend follower software. I’v used it sucessfully very often.

    I have noticed that your follow to follower ratio needs be good or twitter will investigate your account for autofollow reasons, but if you only target people you would normally follow.

    Take a look at it here http://tinyurl.com/autofollowme

  9. You have hit the twitter nail on the head! Very few celebrities like you would venture such statements- they all would love to have as many followers as possible- very few people listen to others- so they learn very little- regards- hiro bachani- mg. director- http://www.merlin-me.com – i am on twitter as— rajnihiro—– and on facebook as hiro bachani- our Merlin products are becoming hotter , and more hot-

  10. You have hit the twitter nail on the head! Very few celebrities like you would venture such statements- they all would love to have as many followers as possible- very few people listen to others- so they learn very little- regards- hiro bachani- mg. director- http://www.merlin-me.com – i am on twitter as— rajnihiro—– and on facebook as hiro bachani- our Merlin products are becoming hotter , and more hot-

  11. Does anybody have a clue as to how unbalanced your ratio can get before Twitter suspends your account? I want to follow a ton more in the 2-3 niches I monitor, but I’m already about -200 (1122 to 911) and don’t feel like getting zapped for being a good listener, as Robert suggests.

  12. Does anybody have a clue as to how unbalanced your ratio can get before Twitter suspends your account? I want to follow a ton more in the 2-3 niches I monitor, but I’m already about -200 (1122 to 911) and don’t feel like getting zapped for being a good listener, as Robert suggests.

  13. I find it helpful and interesting to follow lots of interesting people, but often worry that when folks assume a profile is spam-following to get followers when they see a profile that follows 3x as many as follow back.

  14. I find it helpful and interesting to follow lots of interesting people, but often worry that when folks assume a profile is spam-following to get followers when they see a profile that follows 3x as many as follow back.

  15. You make an excellent point. I had thought that myself. I’ve found that the person who does all the talking doesn’t learn anything. All he hears is his own voice, which is useless. But the person who actually “listens” to others will learn new things, get new ideas and have more value going forward.

  16. You make an excellent point. I had thought that myself. I’ve found that the person who does all the talking doesn’t learn anything. All he hears is his own voice, which is useless. But the person who actually “listens” to others will learn new things, get new ideas and have more value going forward.

  17. I suppose it could be said that following a lot of people makes one indiscriminate. But that’s just playing devil’s advocate. The more I delve into the annals of Twitter, the more I find that I want to know – and people that I want to learn it from.

  18. I suppose it could be said that following a lot of people makes one indiscriminate. But that’s just playing devil’s advocate. The more I delve into the annals of Twitter, the more I find that I want to know – and people that I want to learn it from.

  19. yup

    It’s better to follow than to get more followers. If u are content with urself then it’s alright but if u want to explore and learn then find others. There are People waiting for U.

    ________
    Pratul
    Wide Circles

  20. yup

    It’s better to follow than to get more followers. If u are content with urself then it’s alright but if u want to explore and learn then find others. There are People waiting for U.

    ________
    Pratul
    Wide Circles

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