Big Numbers and No Influence
...the number of one's Twitter followers has nothing to do with his or her influence. In other words, 9.9 times out of ten, the heavily Twitter-followed have as much influence as this guy. You don’t know him, do you? And, that's the point. This guy could go on Twitter tomorrow and start following 100,000 people. Within a couple of months, he would have tens of thousands of followers, simply because the people he originally followed are flattered to be followed and follow him back.While I hate to quibble, it's not quite true that they are just "regular people," unless your idea of regular people are those whose goal in using twitter, perhaps the internet as a whole, is to promote the living crap out of themselves and their businesses. While I hesitate to use a percentage, my experience is that the vast majority of people twitting do so exclusively as a delivery mechanism for marketing. That means that marketers are marketing to marketers who are marketing to other marketers. And then, there are a few people who just happen to be on twitter for fun and, occasionally, to hang out and communicate with their friends.
So here is the true Twitter litmus test on the influence front: Look at the ratio of the number of people someone is "following" vs. their "followers" (i.e., divide their "following" number by their "follower" number). The closer that ratio is to 0 (e.g., 125 "following" divided by 40,000 "followers"), the more influential that person is. And, conversely, the closer that ratio is to 1 (e.g., 34,956 "following" divided by 40,000 "followers"), and especially if it exceeds 1 (e.g., 42,566 "following" divided by 40,000 "followers"), the *less* influential that person probably is. Rather than being a thought leader, maven or ninja, they are regular people just like you and me — they just work harder at spamming Twitter for followers than you or me.
Recently, my young friend Adrian Dayton, who has done a bang up job of establishing himself as a twitter expert despite the lack of clarity as to what qualifies him to teach anything to lawyers, has been giving seminars to those lawyers too dumb to twit on their own. In the process, he twits to his
It's a fascinating exercise, both because it's likely to be quite persuasive to Adrian's audience, and it's a total load of crap. Of course, the audience is unlikely to realize that latter, lacking a clear understanding that followers on twitter are too often named "Britney" or themselves only interested in gathering as many followers as possible in their simplistic quest at marketing hegemony. It's a meaningless bit of theater, except for the fact that its goal is to get people to pay to learn the magic secret of great twitter influence.
Mark makes the point with a Charles Schulz impression.
To put this into [comic] relief, let me offer an offline, hypothetical conversation between, let's say, Lucy and Charlie Brown.
Lucy: I went to a party last night with 65,000 people … I’m sooooo influential.
Charlie Brown: Really, who did you talk to?
Lucy: I don’t know, I just talked and talked.
Charlie Brown: Was anyone listening?
Lucy: Of course they were! Didn’t I just tell you there were 65,000 people!
As for me, I'm just going to keep pulling the football back every time some social media guru tries to kick it through the uprights. I realize that technology is full of strange and mysterious ways, and that the chorus of people telling you that you absolutely, positively must utilize every new shiny thing or your practice will die and your life will be over. Somebody has to remind you that there is no magic bullet that will change the fundamental requirements of a successful law practice: hard work, competence, integrity and client service.
And somebody has to tell you that there's no shortcut, like amassing a bunch of worthless followers on twitter. My thanks to Mark Britton for letting that cat of the bag.