Saturday, May 10

Twitter's Follow:Following Ratio: The one that matters

I'm sure by now I come across as obsessed by Twitter, and maybe that's not an unfair assessment. It's a unique tool that allows extremely easy discovery of "interesting people," and allows you to engage in fairly intimate interaction with those people.

Scoble has huffed and puffed and blown the house down over his "you are who you follow" assessment, which, to me, reeks of grade school cliquey-ness. Why does it matter who I follow? Why does it matter who you follow? Use Twitter however it suits you.

However, there IS one metric I would like to see: on average, how many people do the people who follow me, follow? With what kind of standard deviation, what's the mode? I think that would give you a fairly objective measure of the value of your contribution to Twitter, by gaging the selectivity of those who select you.

Does that make me hypocritical in my use of Twitter? I "follow" over 1300 people, and am "followed" by something like 1400. I certainly follow some very interesting, delightful, informative folks. There are definitely a number of people I interact with regularly. At the same time, there's no question, I follow some people who contribute little or nothing to my life most of the time. People with whom I've never had a conversation. People whose tweets have never twinked my noggin'.

There's definitely an imbalance of value in Twitter. Call it the Great Friend Divide, a la Scoble, if you will. I personally feel that I get more value out of interacting with a large number of interesting, intelligent people through Twitter. However, for every additional person I follow, that's additional segmentation in the attention I pay to my Twitternet -- any one node on my net tends to get less attention.

In other words, there's more value in being followed by someone who follows fewer people, than someone who follows a lot of people. Once you reach a certain point, the only way to get a message through to you is with @s or direct messaging -- which is where Twitter becomes transient, and loses a lot of its initial intimacy potential.

I suppose it all depends on how you use it, what you expect out of it, and what the people who follow you expect out of you. Maybe that's what makes Twitter great.


XiuLan Quan said...

Very well put...and precisely why I try to keep my list down...and "clean" it every once in a you know...I enjoy interacting with the people who "bother" to if you're not tweeting...well why "bother"? I don't see that as elitist in the least...I just like leaving room for those who WANT to interact...and have fun interesting conversation.
Thank you
The Flirt

Sarah said...

If you're concerned about your ratio, check out @tffratio.

Seriously, though, I follow who I follow either because (a) they're friends of mine in the offline realm, (b) friends recommended I follow some people (who I've later met and now know in the offline realm), or (c) some tweets must have been interesting to get me hooked. I agree with you on your feelings to "you are who you follow". Then again, it's as cliche as saying "you are what you eat".

Isle said...

"How many people do the people who follow me follow" -faintly remniscent of "Who's on first" or "How much wood can a woodchuck chuck"

Joking aside, that is a good measure of one's initial value to the Twitter community.

I do check and see who my followers follow, and their list has a direct bearing on how I perceive my value to them.

Yes, unfortunately, the more interesting people I follow, the more relevant tweets I miss by pure volume. I have been experimenting with tweetscan et al, still reserving judgement until I get something fully integrated into my tweeting habit.

Being on the extreme East Coast, I am 4 hours behind the majority of Twitterers that I follow, and plenty gets lost in the active night hours when I am off to bed hours before the cool kids.

@'s help, but trying to catch up on missed relevance is time consuming. -And I only follow about 60 ppl atm, I can't imagine what is lost and how fast info would scroll after 500, let alone a thousand and more.

I guess I should give up on trying to catch every tweet, hmm?

Andrew Badera said...

@sarah: I do follow @tffratio ... but the ratio alone isn't the issue. I recently cleaned house, and am followed by more than I follow ... so I don't feel quite so much like a twammer whore. What it comes down to, simply, is bandwidth. Unfortunately I can't add cores ... but I dislike feeling hypocritical, and hate to come across as aloof, or more of an asshat than I actually am.

rambn said...

Follower/Following ratio is the vital on twitter, tho rarely mentioned.

My rule? I don't follow those who don't follow me.

Michael O'Neill said...

Twitter...sigh. Twitter has drained the good grammar part of your brain. A double negative in the first sentence? 95% of what I know about Twitter I know through you and you make it seem like such a hassle.