Putting a cap on it.. your Twitter followers, that is.

Sitting in Detroit’s airport last week, I was scanning my Twitter feed and I came across something from Andrea Lewis (@AndreaVLewis).  I saw the following: 

“I’ve decided to cap my twitter #s. 500 is my limit for both followers/following. To con’t having good conversations I think it’s necessary.”

I was surprised that someone would come right out and say that they would do this.  I thought it was counterproductive to what social media is all about.  I’ve been lucky enough to chat with Andrea in the past on Brazen Careerist and at her blog.  So I asked her, why would you want to put a cap on your followers/following?  She told me that capping her followers allows her to be more interactive with her audience by being selective in the content she receives.

“Think of the experience you get going to a small, intimate restaurant, where the food is prepared with care and the chef comes out to greet his/her patrons,” Andrea said.  “It’s a completely different vibe then the mass produced chain, where the food is fast and familiar and where chefs could really care less about 1 on 1 interactions and more about productivity.”

Ok, I can see where Andrea is coming from here. I’ve complained in the past about followers and jacking up numbers.  She’s been “flushing”  both following/followers who either aren’t active or don’t recognize them.  “By continually taking part in flushes there will always be new opportunities to connect with new followers,” Andrea said.  “This approach is very fluid, offering constant change and new opportunities, while being efficient.”

I was so appreciative of Andrea starting this discussion and I told her up front that I disagreed.  My feelings are that when you enter social media, it’s a discussion.  Whether it is 400, 500, or 1,000 followers, if you are engaging with others in the the conversation that is the important part.  I want meaningful conversation and I believe I have that with most of the people on my lists.

Here is your question… would you put a cap on your followers and/or who you follow?


About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on March 31, 2010, in Hot Topic, Media, Personal Branding, Social Media, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Brittany James

    When I first started reading, I was very confused and shocked. However I do understand where Andrea is coming from as well. There are lots of people that follow me and I follow that I’ve never chatted with which sometimes prompts me to unfollow. With all the people I have had conversations with it’s always nice when you can strike up a conversation to see how their doing and catch up with each other.

    • I actually went back and forth on the whole issue. But when it came down to it for me, I don’t mind have a lot of followers, people I follow. I’ll try to strike up a conversation from time to time… if it doesn’t work, they’ll eventually drop off my list on their own.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I don’t think I would put a cap on my Twitter followers. I go through my followers from time to time and block those who are clearly spam accounts, or unfollow those I never interact with and just fill up my feed with spam. I see where Andrea is coming from, but I also don’t think it is fair to close yourself off to possible new followers, just because they’re the 501st follower, and you’re limiting yourself too by only following a certain number of people. How can you continue to grow if you constantly interact with the same people?

    I converse with many of the same people on Twitter and social media every day. But I also try to find someone new to follow or converse with or even just to learn from. By capping the number of people you follow and who follow you, you are alienating yourself and others in my opinion.

    • I wrote about the whole follow/following thing a few weeks back. I always look at who is following me; if they appear to be serial retweeters or counter stuffers, I block them. I’d like to say that I know every single one of by 500+ followers, but I don’t. However, I can honestly say I have probably spoken to them once or twice.

      Thanks for coming by the blog, Stephanie.

  3. I am starting to think you are reading my mind. I was thinking about this exact topic last night. It seems in social media there is this constant pressure to connect widely and be a major influencer (see Tweetreach or other tracking options). My thought this morning was “If I continue to follow more and more people how watered down will be incoming content be?” My primary purpose for joining social media was to keep up with trends in media, higher ed and music and if I follow more than 300-400 people, it is conceivable that I could start to miss more things that I might find important. Also, when I started to really think about how to use Twitter I looked around at the #’s of people I respected and enjoyed following. Most of them (academics/new media folks) are following less than 500 people, so it seemed like that was a best practice that I should copy.

    I wonder if this might be an issue of which industry you come from and are invested in. I could see it being entirely relevant for PR pros to connect to as many people as possible to build a name and network. For me, an pseudo-academic, its about finding the best articles for my field, or staying up with news/trends that are relevant to my field, and social media for me has become kind of like a glorified RSS reader where my network filters content for me.

    • I can understand where you are coming from Micah. In my field, I want as much information as I can get. But, I certainly would not say to someone that they should not cap their numbers. If it works, do it. I just don’t think I will go down that path.

      I think for some, keeping your followers at 300-400 is like having a giant ListServ at your disposal.

      Oh, and you didn’t know? I have Vulcan mind reading capabilities.. I’m always “watching.” 🙂

      Have a great day!

  4. Jason thanks for taking my tweet off-line and learning why I do (some of) the things I do, when it comes to social media. I was excited to contribute to the conversation with more than 140 characters! Talk to you soon. =)

    • Thank YOU Andrea. I appreciated the chance to get your insights into why you were doing the capping. I could tell you were the type of person who didn’t just do something without thinking about it. I’m glad we could spark a discussion.

  5. I am with Andrea on this one, myself. I doubt I will ever have that many followers, (it;s not looking good so far) but the followers I do have out of my 60 or so get trimmed pretty frequently if there is no interaction or useful purpose to following them anymore. (Or being followed by them.)

    I’d like more followers, but when I see people getting into, say the 1,000 followers mark, I usually feel pretty certain that they are not going to have a whole lot of time to say anything in depth to specific people or groups of same. So not only would I do it, by and large I don’t follow many people, (unless they are in my Acceptable Famous People List) that have huge amounts of followers, because those people are not likely to offer me anything worth the investment.

    It is “social” media, and while I am not as into it as many I have connected with, I don’t want to lose the social part of the media.

    • Ty,

      Glad you could stop by my blog. I’m happy to have your input on this. I have seen some over the 1,000 counter converse frequently, maybe because they are friends. But, I think we can weed out the ones that are only around to build their counter. I don’t follow serial retweeters and counter builders. I want a conversation or to at least learn something from them. If not, they are bumped.

  1. Pingback: Expectations of a Follower: Creating Meaningful Relationships Online « BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas

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