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Why Build a Quantity-Based Twitter Network

The Twitterati (Tweet elite) have a raging debate about whether you should have a huge Twitter following or focus more on having a smaller number of loyal fans who truly care about what you have to say. Here’s the lowdown on the quality-versus-quantity debate:

  • Quality: Many Twitterati point to quality as the argument why you should have fewer people who are loyal fans, rather than thousands of followers. In other words, you’re more successful with a 10 percent response rate from 1,000 followers than a 0 percent response rate from a million.

  • Quantity: Other Twitterati, however, say that Twitter has an average click-through rate (when someone clicks a link within a tweet) that ranges between 1 and 4 percent. So, on average, 2 out of every 100 people who receive a tweet that includes a URL actually click that URL. If you have 100 followers (for the sake of argument), 2 people will click the URL; if you have 1,000 followers, 20 will click; and 10,000 followers will equal 200 clicks.

According to some informal research done by one of the social media companies, the average Twitter click-through rate is roughly 4 percent. This is a great thing to keep in mind when you consider that direct-mail open rates are 1 to 2 percent and e-mail open-and-read rates are notoriously difficult to accurately calculate (because different people quote different rates).

So, although you may originally look down on the idea of list building, keep in mind that a 20 percent read rate from 1,000 followers who love and adore you is half of a 12 percent read rate with 10,000 followers.

The most important rule is that you’re expected to earn your followers, not get them through computer scripts and list-building Web sites. Visit people’s Twitter homepages, click the people they’re following, and investigate each person to see who’s worth following.

The other rule is that if you’re going to follow a lot of people, you should provide value to them. Value in this context doesn’t mean giving them 10 percent off their next purchase at your Web site. It means actually sharing ideas and giving them information that makes their lives better or gives them new knowledge.

Although building a big list of people you follow can increase your odds of selling your product or service, consider a few big cons (not the big cons you usually find in prison movies, though):

  • You’ll seem disingenuous. People can easily spot list spammers because they’re the ones following 1,500 people with only 150 followers (who are probably people who auto-follow everyone) and absolutely no tweets. Twitterers commonly block list spammers.

  • You’ll end up filling your list with a lot of Internet marketers and spammers. These people’s only interest is getting their message out to a lot of people. So, you end up sending a message to thousands of people who ignore it just as you ignore their messages.

  • While you add more followers, you’ll also be following more people. Although following a lot of people can expose you to interesting people (some of whom may turn into your customers), you may find it hard to keep up with people you really want to hear from. You can find solutions to this problem, such as creating groups on TweetDeck, but keeping your groups in good shape can be a challenging at times.

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