And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Quick pop quiz time – where does that line appear in the bible?
No checking through google. Come on class. Hurry up. Yes you, Fetherstonhaugh. Come on, boy. Speak up.
Yes, that’s right. Matthew 4:19.
I don’t expect many to get that. Nor to know that it is from the King James Bible. The reason I’ve put it at the top of this post is to highlight a reason why someone may choose to follow another. To decide that what that person is saying, is worth paying attention to.
I must inform the reader that the idea of this post was formulated, as most are, under the influence of alcohol. I am also trying desperately hard to steer clear of entering into @Humblebrag territory with this post. There will be a point where I will state a number, act bemused and question the motives. This I assure you, good reader, is an honest assessment of the situation and not an “Oh my, it’s that number because I really am rather good” type position.
But back once more to the followers.
When you first sign up to Twitter (some of you no doubt, already know where this is going) you are you, or at least the nom de plume/alter ego/hidden entity that you choose to be. There is nothing different about you, no tag to label you with – other than the avatar and blurb you choose to provide.
To engage on twitter the next thing you have to do is to follow someone, then another, and another. Usually you start off trying to find out if any of your friends are on there. Then, if you are so inclined – you may tackle the media arm of the net, famous people or even brands. At some point you might even start to follow ‘normal’ people you have no immediate links with – other than that you once both tweeted the same person.
Not a Humble Brag KLAXON!!!
On last check, I have 781 followers on twitter.
No seriously. Why?
I post a lot; a hell of a lot. There is clearly an argument that the scattergun approach by which I have cast my net; to fish for followers, has attracted a number of users – and much like those who always buy the same pants, bank with the same institutes or refuse to change their brand of tea bag – they just can’t be bothered to unfollow. There is an even bigger argument that my female followers posing at an intriguing angle are not actually, real users. They are some kind of bot, automated user – performing a wholly different form of phishing.
But there will be some that, irrespective of the drivel I tweet – the subject matter or the poorly constructed content – stick with me; happy to have me in their electronic lives. Maybe, like me, they use twitter as a means by which to break up the monotony of their day. This is escapism for them, just as much as it is for my barrage of tweets.
The drink, the number, the inquisitive mind – it all started to make me question why I am being followed, but then at the same time, why I follow others?
I follow 494 twitter users.
I started with the simplistic approach outlined above. I wanted to follow journalists I read, and like, in the hope of a greater level of access to their world – their scoops if you will. I started to follow their organisations, other like minded organisations – brands I like and companies I’ve previously bought from. I followed pubs, bars, clubs, and restaurants – if you’ve had my coin then you’ll have my follow as well.
The normal people came in through company employees having personal accounts or others including me in the responses of mates, journalists and companies who had previously tweeted me. I think I now spend more time tweeting and following those normal people. They give you so much more. So much so, that I’ve started to delete the companies from my follow list – I was following a pint for him in the intro’s sake.
Did my followers adopt a similar approach? I know they don’t follow me for the blogs (put that humble brag klaxon down!) as the number of followers divided by the number of daily readers still makes for a very large number. I’ve had a few mutual follows – I’ve followed them, so they’ve followed me. I get quite of lot of followers based on keywords in tweets or I am confident I’ve picked up followers who have simply gone through the following list of others and “stolen” those to follow.
The other prime, beneficial ‘fishing net’ comes in the form of a retweet from someone with far more followers than I could ever imagine attracting. Michael Cox of Zonal Marking (he has 48,163 followers) once retweeted a link to my Parla Calcio? blog. The blog received 251 readers that day, and I picked up 50 or so extra followers. I’ve no idea if they all hung around? Why would they? I can’t remember the last time I tweeted about the tactics of football.
I’ve mentioned in the past about adapting the way I tweet so as not to offend, not to lose a follower – but then maybe that’s presenting a false impression of who I am. Yes I still get beer drinkers, football writers, and users with THFC and many a ne’er-do-well following me – but then I also get arty types, MW wine experts and creative SEO champions following me. Am I the banking institute they’ve mistakenly taken out a pig based child’s account with – and just simply can’t be bothered to move on from?
If I follow you, I do so because I think I might be interested in what you have to say. I don’t know if what you have to say is your genuine view, or whether it is – like me – your twitter voice, but still, it’s a twitter voice worth engaging with. I’ll stop following you if I feel you lose your personal touch – if I feel that your tweets are used only to promote your brand. I also won’t follow you if I’ve not had any reason to. I won’t follow you if you never reply.
Surely those are the same motives others should have for following me?
For I can’t lead you to salvation. I can’t offer you a guiding light. I can’t wash away the sins of the world. All I can do is use you, use twitter, to alleviate the boredom. That is, after all, what it is therefore. Right?
It would be good to know, in one word why people follow each other. Here is small snapshot of the people I follow and one word why:
@domburch – Inevitable
@rcammisola – blogging
@themanwhofell – barrage
@winewomansong – style
@Jonny B – Chickens
@BGRTRob – Positivity
@trimmersnicks – PowerPlates
@DimitriParis – mixes
@Nickiquote – Scotch
@msmirandasawyer – crush
@them_apples – imagery
@pkelso – sarcasm
@culturevultures – persistence
@karlsentk – Harry
@georgina_turner – replies
@ginkers – desire
@Spooky23 – History
@chiggi – classics
@TheGambon – mirth
This list is not exhaustive. If you love Italy, Tottenham Hotspur, football, beer, wine, bowls, food, coffee, Leeds or faffin’ about – then that is your one word, and I will happily continue to follow you.