Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In the Numbers

Okay, social networking is all the rage these days; bloggers are blogging about how they blog, tweeting about how they twitter, and writing and talking and blahblahblah about the benefits of our new apps.

Twitter has been fun and useful for me as a smalltime crafter. I am able to direct traffic to my sites efficiently, purposefully and usefully. Most of my followers until recently were either existing friends or interested in my work. I had developed chatty relationships with several of them and I got a lot of daily joy out of their tweets.

Then I got greedy. Searching through other's pages, I saw their huge amount of followers compared with my lowly low 100s. One of my favorite tweeters wrote that she had garnered hundreds of new followers overnight; I wanted that. I wanted oodles of peeps hanging on my every word. I wanted "followers" to want to experience my genius. I wanted it all.

The site she suggested seemed fairly easy; it was basically a service whereby every member agreed to follow at least 90% of the other members. So you just click through and follow, or you wait two seconds and your inbox will fill with "new follower" emails. And then, in theory, you follow them all back.

At first, my head swelled in proportion to my number of followers. Despite the stipulated reciprocation of the set up, I felt spurred on, encouraged to share every little detail. I knew they wanted me, not just my number....didn't they?

Within two days, I had over 200 followers, but I didn't cultivate them, find them, talk with them. They were data in an index, not faces and stories. And to be honest, I'm fairly sure most of them don't care what I write either. There are so many updates on my homepage that I can't navigate to the ones I really want to see and the ones I do see hold little interest to me.

I unsubscribed at the end of the second day, and went through my "following" list, deleting those who add no value to my experience...I want to pick my friends, not sign up for followers. I want to be engaged in a real and intentional way. Adding people willy nilly is not the way.

It's what I tell my children: its not the quantity of friends that counts, its the quality. I know it's trite but it's true.


  1. Good words. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I was the one who suggested the website to you. It's cool but it might not be the best idea out there...

    I agree, though. I feel like people who don't care about my work are following me because of the website. That's totally not doing my business any good if they're not interested in what I sell! Over the weekend, I didn't get on Twitter at all and Monday I had about 200 new followers; too many to personally contact. It's a little overwhelming sometimes.

    I think I'm going to go through who I follow and delete those who I really don't care about. Like you said, I want to make friends, not make numbers.

  2. Don't go crazy with the followers. The numbers are really meaningless. I have over a 1000 followers, and I spend 1/2 the time trying to figure out how to delete most of them. Remember, social media is a two way street. It isn't all about people following you. The more people who follow you, the more people you feel responsible to follow yourself -- unless you are a total self-obsessed person. And it is not fun following so many people. It is tiring and even a little isolating.