Twitter Followers Don’t Matter; RRFs Do

Anyone noticing a trend? It’s possible I’ve already written about Facebook in a similar fashion and now I’m banging on about Twitter. But bear with me: it’s worth reading.

Talk to anyone who uses Twitter for five minutes and one word is bound to come up: followers. Twitter users always want more followers. Why? Because the bigger the crowd the further your voice will travel. More followers equals more people who can see your tweets. Makes sense, right? So it may come as a surprise to many to hear that Twitter founder Evan Williams is advocating a move away from the follower count. Surely he’s lost his marbles?

Not at all. He just knows that it’s quality, not quantity, that matters.

Evan Williams is now advocating the importance of the retweet over the follower and he’s absolutely right. In fact I would go further and advocate the RRFs: Retweets, Replies and Favourites. Because a follow means only that someone has clicked a button that says “follow”. It doesn’t mean they like or even read your tweets. It’s literally just the button thing.

An RRF, on the other hand, means that someone has:

• read your tweet;
• enjoyed it enough to click a button that leads to engagement;
• engaged in a public fashion that increases your exposure to other Twitter users;
• opened the door to further and continued engagement with you;
• given you a way of actually measuring which of your tweets are popular and which are not.

In short, the number of followers you have is a false comfort and an unreliable metric. But the number of RRFs your tweets earn? They’re pure gold.

You might agree (I think you should) or you might think I’m talking pure cods wallop. Get opinionated and leave a comment!

8 thoughts on “Twitter Followers Don’t Matter; RRFs Do

  1. Lysana

    Absolutely. There are a lot of tweets I skip over (frequent, obvious, “I’m RT’ing this for a friend so she’ll RT my stuff for me” type tweets). I’m not doing them any good being a follower because – unless it’s free – I’m probably not going to download it. But if I see something I like, I will sometimes RT, sometimes reply, and usually favorite it so I can go back and look at it later (e.g. when I’m not being paid to do something else, which…right now…oops). I’m also more likely to look at a link a person tweets if they’ve engaged with me at some point (you, for example).

    Not to mention, I just don’t see how people keep up if they are following a lot of twitter accounts. Maybe there are ways of filtering your twitter feed? Although, if so, that makes the sheer number of followers even more pointless. If you’re not engaging with them and they’re not talking to you, odds are, they’ve filtered you out.

    Anyway, yes, I think you’re right on.

    (Apologies if there are multiple posts from me; I got an error and am going to try again. It says, “Maybe your post is too short.” Haha, it CLEARLY doesn’t know who it’s talking to.)

    1. James

      I couldn’t agree with you more; even if something is put right in front of a person, we’re capable of filtering out anything! I can look through the morning tweets a second time and see a tweet I didn’t spot at all first time around. I wasn’t ignoring it; I just missed it!

      The people who follow 120,000 are actively filtering. You’d have to. I have no doubt they use lists and one of those lists, filled with maybe 50 users, is the one they bother to check.

      And, as promised, I kept the second comment :-)

  2. Elizabeth Barone

    I get way more excited when I see someone RTed me than when I see I have a new follower; most people just follow you so you’ll follow them back, and never even try to talk to you (even if you break the ice). It’s become one of my biggest pet peeves on Twitter and I stubbornly refuse to follow back just so I can boost someone into the upper thousands.

    I love the idea of this bigger focus on RTs.

    1. James

      You’re right and that’s why I ask people to say hello if they follow. It’s right there in my bio! Most (cool) people are on Twitter to talk to people. It’s not an ego contest! It’s not how many followers you have, it’s how you interact with them that counts. Motion of the ocean and all that.

  3. mlatimerridley

    What a great word, cods wallop, but indeed it is not! RRFs are definitely worth way more and give you that fuzzy happy feeling than just someone following you. At the start of your twitter life though, I will say a follow is pretty exciting, but then you come to realise they’re fairly meaningless unless it’s a person who is actually going to chat to you and basically show an interest! Otherwise it’s like wandering round a packed town square with people rushing by handing you leaflets to buy things and you know no one and no wants to talk to you. Anyone would prefer to walk into a small room instead, where people glance up, welcome you with a smile and say hello! :D

    1. James

      Your comment made me think of Norm from Cheers; everyone said hello when he walked in! I couldn’t agree more with you, give me a small room with a few people I’ll talk to over the faceless crowd any day!

      I know what you mean about those first follows, though, they do make you feel validated. But it’s an empty joy.

      While I’ve got you, is there a release date for Legend Unleashed?

      1. mlatimerridley

        Hmm….things haven’t gone completely to plan, we had to change the publishing date (originally it was the 24th of September! Ha. We wished!) but we weren’t happy with the editing job when we got it back, so we had to send it off to a different person for a proof read! Possibly in the next 2-3 weeks?
        Thanks for asking though James! We shall keep you in the loop! :D
        “Cheers, where every body knows your name…” haha

        1. James

          Plans never seem to go the way you want them to, do they? I hope it wasn’t a huge setback, I’m looking forward to seeing it in print!


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