How to get big numbers on Twitter (or anything else)

Follow me on Twitter:

As soon as people see numbers, a few things happen to their brains.

1. They marvel at people with REALLY BIG NUMBERS
2. They look at their own puny numbers and despair
3. They look for ways to get more numbers

Ask me how I know this is true?

How people get really big numbers on Twitter…the secret “they” don’t want you to know

I’ve done an exhaustive study on the subject. (OK. I went to and looked at the Top 1000.)

It seems like there are a few tried and true ways to get big numbers on Twitter.

1. Be on TV (or be an already fantastically well known brand.)
2. Have a big list from some other source and relentlessly ask your list members to follow you
3. Be a Twitter, social media and/or tech expert who spends a big chunk of his or her time in front of audiences that have super high densities of Twitter users flashing their Twitter address and relentlessly ask your list members to follow you.

There may be some exceptions to this rule, but I don’t see them in the to upper listings.

Follow me on Twitter:

Why people follow

People seem to follow for five reasons:

1. They’re collectors (a nice word for “pack rats”) and if it’s free, they want a lot of them
2. They’re followers and like having icons of their favorite celebrities on their profile page
3. They’re status seekers and want to be seen following “cool” people
4. They’ve been guilt tripped into following a friend or acquaintance (usually by their own minds)
5. They’d like to guilt-trip someone else into following them (to increase their own number of followers.)

It’s these last two that I find really interesting: “Please follow me.” “Thanks for following me.”

We’ve left the land of the rational and gone deep into the social brain on this one (i.e. back to high school.)

There’s a bit of the old MLM mentality in play too:

“You follow me and I’ll follow you and we’ll both have one more follower and that will make us more attractive so we’ll both be more likely to get more followers who will do the same…and somehow this will all end up with all of us making money.”

Am I being overly cynical, skeptical, and critical here? Or am I nailing this right on the head?

Follow me on Twitter:

What are lots of follower good for anyway?

I wonder.

Do the 3,711,359 people who “follow” Britney Spears on Twitter really follow her? Do they actually go to Britney’s profile page and see what Britney had to say today?

I’m sure that some do, but I doubt it’s 3,711,359 or anywhere near close to that number. And this is probably the same for every Twitter Big Shot.

So what does it really mean when someone is “following” you on Twitter?

It means that at one point:

1. They were on your profile page
2. They felt an impulse to “follow” – so they pushed one button ONE TIME
3. They haven’t yet felt the need to push the “unfollow” button yet.

If we were thinking accurately about this whole thing, we would call Twitter followers, Twitter “one-time button pushers.”

Jesus had followers guys. We have people who pushed a button – once – and may or may not ever to anything related to us again.

Let’s get real – and while you’re at it…

Follow me on Twitter:

The real game – as I see it

The real game in text – and that’s what Twitter is, isn’t it? – is to get people to read what you’ve written.

(I know there’s a two-way communications aspect to Twitter, but realistically, how many people can you interact with, even in a superficial way at a time?)

It’s not how big your list is…

It’s how many people go to your profile and read your twee… God I hate the word…let’s just call them posts?

Yeah, I know that posts can go viral (blah, blah, blah), but how often does that happen in the real world?

And when you go to most people’s profile pages, how much do you see that you actually want to read, much less re-tweet? (See, I’m down with the lingo.)

Do I really want to read four score and twenty absolutely incomprehensible personal communications? Do you?

Clearly I’m dissing the foundations of Twitter civilization here, but I’m doing it for a good reason. To re-focus us all on what really matters.

Follow me on Twitter:

How to get read

It’s not about number of “followers” (unless number of followers is something you want to use a bragging right, a “credential.” Fair enough I guess.)

But the real prize I have to think is about having quality people want to read what you have to say.

By quality people, I mean people who someday may have a reason to become a customer, a colleague, a collaborator. Someone you can do something with – off of bloody Twitter.

As I described earlier, lots of people will still jump on board and become your “follower” – the collectors, the followers, the status seekers, the “Twitterticians” (those who trade favors for mutual advantage, a word I just made up) – and bulk your numbers up for you.

But if you don’t have a core of people who actually seek you out and want to read what you have to say, I’m not sure I understand what the point all of this is.

But even if there is no point to it, why not go ahead and…

Follow me on Twitter:

How to create readers

The surest way to be read is to…(drum roll please)…have something interesting to say at least one in five posts (though, here’s a novel idea. Why not shoot for 100%?)


Because realistically, who on earth loves you enough to go to your profile and wade through a ton of crap to find something, anything, worthwhile – and do it more than once?

Not everything has to be profound or useful or entertaining, but how about comprehensible? That would be a good place to start, wouldn’t it?

For example, slices of life are fine, but ten bits of odd personal trivia in a row? Do you really want to attract the kind of people who would be attracted by that? In the old days, we used to call those people “stalkers” and we tried not to encourage them.

Maybe I’m too critical (don’t all agree at once), but who has the time for this? In the long run?

Conversely, we’ll always have time for something that makes us chuckle, or makes us think, or uplifts, or inspires or shares news or tells you something you didn’t know.

Quality guys and gals, quality. It will help make sure you’re still standing when the fad aspects of this fade.

Follow me on Twitter: .

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

A whole copywriting seminar in a single tweet?
Skeptic surrender - Twitter wins


Comments are closed.