I got a number of new followers on Twitter over the weekend. What was odd about them was the large number of people a lot of them were following and, to a lesser extent, the number of followers they have.
I'm talking about people following 5,000, 10,000 or even more than 20,000 people. That's a good sized town; imagine if you could hear everyone's conversations in town at once. It would be deafening.
The cacophony of 20,000 tweets scrolling by is equally deafening. You might catch a snippet here and there, but if you're following that many people, it's probably pretty indiscriminate content. You might as watch every tweet with the letter "e" in it.
I think that the future of twitter is going to be people dipping into the stream with more sophisticated search tools. And I think that means that followers won't matter as much. I posted a link to my Microsoft Songmsith and while my followers showed up, I also got a lot of Twitter traffic from search results, both on search.twitter.com and Google.
There are a lot of tools out there to help you manage larger groups of followers on Twitter, but the reality is that as your base of people you follow grows, the less they are YOUR people. I keep a couple scroller search tabs open for Bissell and Conquent to keep tabs on what people are saying to and about me on Twitter. I've replied to them, and they've replied to me, all without either of us following each other.
The only advantage you have to following someone is to allow them to Direct Message you. Personally, I try to let people contact me in other ways than a DM on Twitter -- use the Contact form on Conquent, leave a note on my blog, send email to the company. A DM is as personal as an email, and I don't hand out my email to everyone.
I plan to watch the Inauguration on Twitter using Conquent's scroller at http://conquent.com/scroller/?q=Inauguration, and with the millions of people in DC, and everyone else online, it's nice to know I can watch the flow, but I don't have to know them all personally.
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