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can twitter get too big? the Twitter Catch-22

By November 7, 2008How To,

So, as you all know, I’m Twitter-obsessed. I love it. I could be on Twitter all day and not even notice the hours fly by. (If only I could clone myself and that carbon-copy could do all of my work.)

And, as the number of people that I follow and that follow me grows rapidly (30+/day), I’m starting to see a tiny bit of a problem. When I was only following, say 50 people, even 100, I knew what they were doing – I could actually follow them consistently. I would open my Twitter and there they’d be. And because I could follow all of them, I naively assumed they were all really following me. And by following, I mean reading all of my tweets, every single one.

But, as the number of people I was following grew, I started to realize that I was missing things. I’d see an intriguing response to someone and have to go track down the start of their conversation. And, then, lo and behold, it dawned on me that my followers were also following so many people that they weren’t able to see all of my tweets.

Interesting. So, there are a few options here.

1. Without being really annoying, I can retweet really important tweets – like a call for a contest, huge news, retweets, etc. – throughout the day to make sure that different people see it. Remember that the Twitter community spans the globe, and thus, time zones – you don’t want to anger the Australians by only tweeting during your U.S. 9-5 times.

2. TweetDeck and other desktop applications can be used. TweetDeck “aims to evolve the existing functionality of Twitter by taking an abundance of information i.e twitter feeds, and breaking it down into more manageable bite sized pieces.”

3. Engage with as many people from my Twitter community as I can on other social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Nings, etc.) This way I increase my chances of really important announcements/tweets being seen by them because I post the news in multiple places. Obviously, nothing can replace the immediacy and rapidity of Twitter – but for those important Tweets, it’s an option.

Okay, people – start talking. Your comments are always beyond insightful…how do you handle this Catch-22: The more followers, the bigger your community and reach, YET, the more followers, the less contact and impact.

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Ron Miller says:

    Hi Julie:
    One thing I do is I try to follow a handful of new people each week. But I also look at the Tweets of people I’m following. If they’re interesting I keep following them, but some of them I find aren’t terribly interesting to me, or I don’t like their Tweets for whatever reason, and I stop following them.

    I add, but I also subtract. I’m following 227 people, but of them, probably 50 are really active Tweeters and others Tweet across a range of activity.

    I also like Tweet Deck because I’ve set up a friend’s list. If I don’t have time to look at all the Tweets, I can at least check my friends. I also plan to set up lists for key industry experts I follow and news sites I follow and so forth (although so far I haven’t gotten that organized).

    by Ron Miller Blog

  • Well I personally say use a combo of #2 and #3, but do not R/T your own stuff, or at most one r/t per day, separated by a few hours. Anything more and you will risk losing followers. I rarely unfollow but too many self r/t’s are one thing that will cause me to do it.

    Remember that although people don’t always catch things on your timeline in the moment, we often view your profile/timeline if we really are interested. If I look at your profile and see too much self-promotion it is a turn off.

    I have had to let go of worrying about always keeping up on Twitter – it moves too quickly and people are not always on it. Just share what’s important and hope that people will see it (or retweet for you – even better!!)

  • Barbara says:

    Hmmm. I follow about 300 people via Twhirl and it seems fine. I tend to clean out my follow list about every month or so. Basically if I don’t recognize the avatar I delete them. I only follow people that @ me unless I knew them prior to Twitter.

  • daysgoby says:

    I’ve watched Twitter grow into it’s own life form over the last year – what CAN’T you do with Twitter now, huh??

  • --Deb says:

    I know what you mean–the more people I follow, the less I’m getting out of Twitter–and I’m following 115 people! It’s cacophony rather than conversation.

  • Sandra Foyt says:

    I’ve been grappling with this myself. At first, I tried to catch all the tweets I missed between sessions by backpaging in Twitter. Then, I used Tweet Deck to review up to a 48 hour time period. However, this got to be too much.

    Now, I’m just sipping from the Twitter stream. I check my replies & direct messages, and I reply to interesting posts that I see when I’m visiting Twitter. I don’t try to catch all I’ve missed, unless I’ve got loads of time to hang out. Not often.

    I’ve also set up an A List Group on Tweet Deck so I can review past posts of Twitter Friends who usually converse with me. But, I don’t check this very often, not yet anyway.

  • I’m still fairly new to Twitter so I only have a couple hundred I’m following and can keep up pretty well. I imagine that will change as time goes on. It’s a very useful tool and I found some great links and sites following people’s tweets.

  • Twitter is definitely addictive and as my followers/following list grows, I find it harder to keep track of people I really enjoy following. I love using TweetDeck because I can create a Group of my favorite peeps to follow, which makes it easier for me to stay connected to certain people. Periodically, I’ll update that list, or create a new one so that I don’t unexpectedly create a Twitter clique!

  • Amber says:

    I first heard of Twitter a year ago and so far I have not signed up for an account. Until I watched the video on what it does I thought it was something like IM windows popping up all day.

    Now that I have a better idea of how it works, I still think it will probably be a timewaster for me. I already check different sites with regularity. It seems like too much to have one more.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Hi Amber – well, it all depends on what you’re looking for from the web. If you’re looking to grow a business or build a network, then Twitter is a great choice – if not, then I can see how it might not be the thing for you…but, I’ve got to say it’s pretty darn great…I get so much information from Twitter – not to mention work opportunities and support.

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