Think the number of Twitter followers matters? Think again.

Photo by Coletivo Mambembe

If you have been given the green light to start a Twitter account for your organization, it’s probable you are tracking your success based on how many followers you have. This is an understandable pattern of behavior. It’s hard to measure things like “share of voice” because you don’t really have any when you first start out. Number of followers is an easy-to-understand number, and if that number is increasing, you can present your program as being on the path to success.

Things can get depressing after a short while on Twitter, even if you are gaining a few new followers every day. You look at other accounts in your area, and they seem to be growing at an exponential rate. You look at their tweets and you don’t notice anything that makes them more interesting than you. “What am I doing wrong?” you may think.

A new infographic from Inc Magazine may shed some light on the situation.

There are two key points the infographic highlights. First, there are companies out there that specialize in selling fake followers to Twitter accounts. The infographic snidely notes that these companies tend to refer to themselves as marketing experts.

The other important thing to remember is that people (and bots) gravitate towards accounts that already have a lot of followers. This is one reason why the concept of purchasing followers can seem attractive. If you can just get over that hump, you’ll be able to grow your following organically in the future. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Avoid it.

Quality, Not Quantity

As a cause-based organization, the number of followers you have will not matter nearly as much as the quality of those followers. If you beef up your account with a lot of spam and bot accounts, do you think your fundraising will improve? Not a jot.

Even though the social media world is rife with shortcuts, the most effective path, as is so often the case in life and in business, is the one that takes the most time and effort. A shortcut, like buying followers, may seem like an easier path to success, but in fact, once your credibility is called into question in the online world, it can be very difficult to work yourself back into your real followers’ good graces.

Don’t worry about the numbers. Don’t be seduced by the idea that your account could have as many followers as this celebrity or that company. That is not what will help your organization in the end. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I promise, it’s the truth.

Photo by Sean MacEntee