Is Twitter Just a Big Popularity Contest?

Posted By on May 27, 2010 | 11 comments

When looking at your Twitter account how many of your followers/following do you really know? Sure, we follow people because they follow us and vice a versa…but why? What makes people choose to follow you? If you look at many “popular” (not celebrities) users do you notice any trends? Maybe they have great content, interesting jobs or informative blogs….but how often do you honestly take the time to read the tweets of the people your following. It seems as though people look at numbers rather then content. When deciding whether or not to follow someone do you look at how many followers they have or what they are tweeting?

I’m guilty of following people based on numbers. If they have so many followers then they must be important…right?

This question came to mind when thinking about high school and how being popular is so important. Is Twitter the modern day popularity contest? In high school, your looking for your niche and a group of friends (followers) who fit in with that niche. Twitter embodies this same ideal. You set up your account and then hope to find some relevancy. Some users are more “popular” than you so in your efforts to be like them you become a follower…

Once again let’s take this back to your high school days….were you a follower or a leader? Don’t worry about fitting into someone else’s niche. Instead define/redefine your own. Gain friends (followers) the old fashioned way by being nice and being your own person.

What do you think?

Should we have a Twitter prom among our followers to determine who the King and Queen are? (Just kidding) My point is that Twitter isn’t high school. So don’t take it personal when you lose followers. Don’t take it personal when people won’t follow you back.  Maybe your content isn’t relevant to them. You want to have followers who share your interests and who will actually read what your posting. Don’t just be a number among many be someone to follow. Likewise, follow the people who matter to you. We all should be more content driven rather then defining relevancy through the amount of “friends” someone has.


  1. Well said Kyle. When my ego kicks in, I try to remember it's Quality vs Quantity.. It's the meaningful connections that truly measure the size of your following.

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    • Couldn't agree more. Though it may be ego boosting to have a lot of followers, what matters most is that these people find value in what you have to say and you, in return, get to learn from those whom you follow.

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  2. Good points. Have thought the same for a while. I have a different perspective as well though. Im on Twitter for business purposes. Even though I have alot of personal conversations and non business contacts it doesnt hurt to keep my company on everyones screen. For that reason I follow alot of people that I normally wouldnt. Based on content alone I wouldnt follow a half to a quarter of the people that I do. Thats not to say that Im being a fake friend or shallow (like high school) Im following them so they see our companies name. Since we are a local company I follow alot of Indianapolis area people based on their location only. Doesnt make my follows less genuine or my value from their tweets any less. If you follow alot of people for business purposes not content I suggest making a column of good content accounts so the stuff you need to be seeing doesnt get lost in the stream of non relevant content. Then you get the best of both worlds.

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  3. Good post. It's easy to assume that people with lots of followers must be worth following, but that doesn't seem to be true. That's like assuming that Nickleback must be great because they sell so many records.

    I know some folks with a ridiculous number of followers who don't have very good content. They're just shameless self-promoters or people who follow a stupid number of people in hopes of getting them to follow back. Conversely, some of the most valuable content on Twitter comes from folks with few followers. They quietly do things well, but they don't make a fuss about it.

    Of course I easily get distracted by the numbers of Twitter, but I'm trying to stay aware that (as McMedia said) it's about quality over quantity.

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    • I have to agree with you Tyler.

      Okay! Here is my opinion. I follow tons of people too 130,000k LoL! And i always try my best to talk to everyone, My contents are usually RT's from my followers. I seldom do any self promotion. I do post tweets on my blog whenever I have a new post though. That is about it.

      I have seen people who have more than 100,000 followers but have like 500 tweets and they are basically tweets to their website, blogs etc.

      So it all comes down to the twitterers personalities I guess. I do take twitter seriously to build relationship. =D


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  4. This thought reminds me of the social media awards that happened in Indianapolis a few months ago, where people voted for who they thought was the best influencer and what-not in social media.

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  5. Excellent point, people care way too much about follower count, when in fact it tells you little about how influential that person really is. If someone is following thousands of people they aren't really paying any attention to them. The real question is how much engagement do you have and who are the people talking to you (i.e. are they influential).

    I'd love for you to take a look at Klout ( as I think we're dealing with a lot of these issues.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    -Megan Berry
    Marketing Manager, Klout

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  6. Within the Twitter community some users seem to have the attitude of, “follow me back or I will unfollow you”. Are we obliged to follow someone for no reason other than they are following us? I think not.

    I follow Twitter users whom post content about things that interest me…I seriously don’t mind if they don’t follow me back…I may not be posting things of interest to them. That’s not to say I’m not appreciative of the return follow but to me that’s not what Twitter is about.

    There are many Twitter users following thousands and thousands of people for whatever reason, that’s cool but for me I like to read as many of the posts I can. How could I possibly do this if I had thousands of followers posting several posts each a day? Twitter lists assist with this in a way but I intend to keep my followings manageable though I’m not naive to the possibility that this could one day go out the window.

    There have been times I’ve blocked some followers because I believed they had ulterior motives or I didn’t believe they were legit or weren’t who they said they were.

    I did a repost of Clive Thompson’s awhile back where he talked about ‘Online Obscurity‘. He stated, “When you go from having a few hundred Twitter followers to ten thousand, something unexpected happens: Social networking starts to break down”. There is some truth in that. A community can become so big that the sense of community becomes lost. So I refrain from following users that twitter ‘status type’ postings only, unless they’re a friend or an associate of mine. I prefer to use Twitter to gain information and knowledge of my specific interests.

    Some users appear to follow people as a means of getting more followers for themselves. However, I find if I don’t return the favour, they unfollow me with hours or within a day or two. There are plenty of people I’m following that don’t follow me and they probably never will. Good on them.

    When someone chooses to follow me, I view their profile to see if they’re posting things of interest to me, if they do, I follow, if not, I don’t.

    Some people find it hard to accept loss of followers and take it personally. I’ve had incidences where I’ve followed people after viewing their profile only to have them unfollow me almost immediately. These users, at most times, appear to be people who are only interested in using Twitter to build up their contact base for selling their services or products. They have no interest in hearing what you have to say, they are usually just spammers. Twitter often weeds out spam accounts and bots that automatically follow people which would make your user numbers drop. So chances are, those followers weren’t real people anyway.

    There’s plenty of blogs and resources on the net if you suffer from follower loss. Also, the same goes for tracking lost followers.

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  7. These people who would tell you you smell like cheese just because you unfollow or don't follow them back are simply immature or do not fully understand the power of freedom in social media.

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  8. I will admit that I to have been a "collector." For me this had more to do with not knowing what I wanted to get out of social media. When you don't know your goal it is easy to get sidetracked by snoop dog or some other random twitter personality.

    A persons friend count is a valuable tool and shouldn't be dismissed, it is a measure of the persons activity and dedication to putting out good information or it means that your just really famous and everyone wants to be your friend. I follow snoop dog, not sure why since I don't get much of value from his posts and can't decipher the other half…but he's snoop dog and that's enough for me I guess.

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  1. Size Does Not Matter in Social Media | Kyle Lacy, Social Media - Indianapolis - [...] debate over quality vs. quantity in social media is one to consider when using Twitter. The amount of influence …

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