When you first get on twitter, it’s likely the thing you care most about is how many followers you have. I’ve even been to parties where people will judge my status by the number of followers I have. It’s like walking up to somebody and asking them how much money they make. A year ago when I first got on twitter, I met a girl at a party who I asked me how many followers I had. At the time I didn’t really know how to use twitter, and I had roughly 100 followers. She then proceeded to tell me about a mass follow tool of some sort, so I went home and went crazy following people. I’ve never interacted with her on twitter, and I have no idea what happened to her.
To add to that my twitter account eventually got banned and I had to start all over again. Before I get into the rest of the concepts in this post, I want to recommend that you read Malcom Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point.
Quality trumps Quantity: The idea that 150 followers is all you need probably sounds crazy to people, especially if you are just starting out. In an interview I conducted with Scott Stratten (this year’s keynote speaker for Blogworld), he mentioned that he tweeted over 10,000 times before he shared any of his own content. 75% of those were not even retweets, but @replies. He was engaged in real conversations with real people. So I decided to experiment with the concept for a month. The byproduct was incredible. The traffic I got from twitter increased exponentially. To top it off I met a bunch of new, really interesting people. Before long I found them on my blog commenting and sharing my posts with their followers.
The Rule of 150: In The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell talks about a concept called Dunbar’s number, named for anthropologist Robin Dunbar. After studying numerous groups the number 150 kept coming up over and over again. The conclusion that Robin Dunbar came to was that the maximum number of social relationships a person can effectively manage is 150. Gladwell went on to say that 150 people is what you need to make an idea spread. What’s even more interesting to is that after you get past 150 something happens that makes it harder for an idea to spread. Hopefully you see where I’m going with this concept. I want to share one concrete example from my own twitter presence. On my @skooloflife account I have 2000 followers. I get an average of 10 tweets per post. On my @blogcastfm account (the one for the podcast I host), I have about 500 followers and most interviews I get close to 20 tweets. There’s no way you are realistically going to engage with effectively with thousands of followers unless you absolutely have no life. Think about the power of 150 people who love you and everything you do when compared to the thousands of people where you are just trying to stand out from the noise.
Creating Your 150
Creating your 150 is actually quite easy and if you follow the steps below you’ll have discovered your 150 in no time. I’ve written my process out below of how I do this using tweetdeck.
- Track Mentions: The major thing you should be tracking is mentions of your twitter name. Anytime somebody mentions your name, it’s an opportunity to start a conversation and acquire a new high quality follower.
- Track Retweets: You should also pay close attention to the people who are retweeting the posts you have written. It’s obvious that they like your content, otherwise they wouldn’t be sharing it.
- Create a List: I have a list called my inner circle. Anytime somebody mentions me or retweets me, I make a point to to add them to that list. If they are a spammer, they get blocked.
- Engage with the People on that List: Simply creating the list is not going to be enough. Once you have created your inner circle list, you need to start engaging with them.
- Daily Conversations: I talk to the people on my inner circle list almost daily. I don’t talk to all 150 of them every single day. But I talk to at least a few of them and that’s all that you really need to do to start getting true value out of twitter.
- Retweet their Stuff: I make a point to promote the stuff of the people in my inner circle, especially if they are newer than I am to the blogosphere. It’s much easier to form relationships with people who are at your same level or slightly below. People have a tendency to only try to form relationships with people who are more established. Don’t discredit the value of your peer group because they won’t be small forever.
Where to Start When You Are at Zero: If you are starting at zero, some of the above might seem more challenging, but it’s not. Just start with bloggers who you have been reading. This is why it’s important to read more than just the a-list blogs. Find people you think are interesting and just reach out to them. They’ll be happy to hear from you. That will be the start of creating your 150.