It’s true. Numbers scare me. Figuring out a tip? Determining the cost of my total purchase while standing in the dressing room? Forget it. I don’t like to do it. I’ve been known to use the calculator on my iPhone for just such occasion. So it’s no secret that math isn’t for me (I definitely scored higher in Verbal skills on my SAT).

But in the case of Twitter, this isn’t a personal fear. It’s a philosophy that I think those on Twitter should adopt. Some people get on Twitter and try to just “up their numbers” by getting more and more followers and making that number look really great. But I don’t buy into this idea. There are others out there who want to get a million followers, but only follow 2 people. What this basically says is, “I want you all to listen to what I have to say, but I’m not going to listen to you, engage with you or have any back-and-forth communication.”

I say adjust your opinion of the numbers. Yes, it’s good to have a lot of people follow you – but it’s better when you follow back those that make sense for your brand, and engage with them. When I start working with a client who has an existing Twitter account, the first thing I do is log onto Friend or Follow to see who we are following that is not following back and I start purging. Not to sound crass, but if someone I’m following isn’t going to follow me back, AND they aren’t necessarily beneficial for the brand, I unfollow them. Honestly, they are taking up valuable space in the follow list. I’m listening to them but they aren’t listening back.

There are always exceptions to the rules. Certainly, there are large organizations, media agencies or famous people who say pertinent things that apply to our brand and we want to know what they are saying. But following celebrities just to follow them? I save that for my personal account, not my clients.

Another quick tip about Friend or Follow – when I start going through that list and I find someone that could potentially be a buyer, or a blogger, that would help the brand, I give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe they missed the notice we were following them, maybe they just forgot to follow back. So I reach out and say hi – just a reintroduction, usually in public, but sometimes by direct message. And usually, they follow back and engage.

The point of Twitter is not just to talk. It’s to listen. It’s to be open to communicating with others. Don’t get wrapped up in how many followers you have – make those followers quality followers. That is the key.

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