But 96 seemed like a lot of people. I started wondering who all these people were. I knew I had some friends that I exchanged tweets with, and I know I get 'X is now following you' emails every now and then but I rarely follow back or pay much attention. So I did what any good nerd would do. I exported my followers to a spreadsheet, categorized them and made a chart:
Here's how I broke it down:
Bacon - 27%
The biggest category by far. By 'bacon' I mean stuff that's not technically spam, but that is some company or website that I don't care about in the least who is following me to build their follower list or profile, hope that I'll follow back, and generally market their business. All the best to them, but I almost never follow these people back.
No idea - 23%
People who seem like good people who have decided to follow me for whatever reason. I have no idea what lead them to me, have no connection to them whatsoever, and I rarely follow back. I know that's not good Twitter etiquette, but so be it. I try to keep my following list down to a manageable level of interesting people, so there's just not room for these people.
Friend - 14%
A person I actually know in real life who updates regularly and that I frequently exchange with. I wish this was the largest category, but I fear it never will be.
Friend who never updates - 14%
A friend who signed up, scanned their address books for contacts, followed me, posted once, and never updated again.
Spam - 9%
This is surprisingly smaller than I thought it would be. I really assumed that 99% of the follows I was getting was spam. But even 9% is too high I think. Especially annoying is a lot of these followers have been around for a while and haven't been banned yet. If there was a 'report abuse' button I'd use it, and these jerks might go away.
Company/celebrity I follow - 7%
Self explanatory. I follow a few 'celebrities' (mostly noted tech writers) and some of them are cool enough to follow me back. Also in this list are companies that I want updates on (like @Tweetdeck, @Boxee) that decide to follow me back. Good job to everyone on this list. You know who your fans are, and you engage with them. Seth would be proud.
Common Interest - 4%
Most of these are people I found during searches for updates on the Toronto Outside Workers Strike whose comments I liked.
Foreign Language - 3%
One tweets Spanish, the other German. I assume they speak English, but I speak neither. I have no idea why they follow me.
This data is basically anecdotal, but it's not going to stop me from making wild conclusions based on it. So what are they?
- Most of your followers are people you don't care about, are trying to sell you something, or are people who don't even really use Twitter.
- Don't stress out that much about how many followers you have, because it's basically meaningless. Tweet what you feel like, follow interesting people, and have fun.