I am a horrible follow on the mean streets of Twitter. So, yeah, this might be a little self-serving, but it will not be inaccurate.
With that being said, Twitter is an incredible social media device. A person can use it for a variety of different things. You can get some news on there, possibly a few giggles, and even some insight from a few wise people who roam the Interwebs. However, with great Twitter Machine power comes great tweeting responsibility — or something.
Somehow, really not oddly at all, people tend to gauge a person’s ability of insight, talent, and/or success, by how well they are using the device, how many Twitter followers they have, and things of that nature.
This tends to boil down to sports media, athletes and entertainers only, though. Generally, no one is deciding which accounting firm to use based on the number of tweets that company has in correlation with the followers under their belt. If that’s how you decide who gets to do your taxes, well, good for you.
Nevertheless, the idea that you can tell who is actually talented (or other, positive adjectives) via their follower count is insane.
When Twitter started to explode, many a low-level blogger would attempt to buy followers. That’s because they knew what everyone does now, people think that someone with a high follower count most be worth following and probably gives great insight. I mean, why else would 11,000 people be following a person no one has previously heard of?
The buying followers gag did not last long. It didn’t take long for other blogs (generally with less followers) to expose certain people as having fake/dead accounts following them. Another shocker (if shocking actually meant not shocking at all) was the fact that legitimately famous and talented people were also buying fake followers. Well, maybe not them directly, but their PR firm or such.
Who was to blame for such nonsensical garbage? Us, of course.
We have all seen it. The Twitter banter, the back and forth, which ultimately ends with one person demeaning the other because they have x-amount of followers. You know, as if there is a certain number one has to reach to be considered a success.
Then there is the whole, following to follower debacle. A person follows you, you check their bio, then you find out that they have nearly 20k regular folk following them. It just so happens to be that they themselves follow 22k.
Odd, isn’t it? The amount of importance we put on social media. Really, how we gauge people by their dominance of the device. Or, in some cases, their pretend dominance.
Without naming names, because it isn’t hard to figure out for yourself and I am a pretend professional, there are a few Twitter users who are terrific on the device. They can be super insightful, bring the hammer down on trolls, and be a general solid follow. Just because they are all those things on Twitter, however, does not mean their blog is all that and a bag of chips.
There are a few full-time bloggers out there, successful ones, who rely solely on the Twitter machine to make their site profitable. Instead of attempting to put out good, even original, content, they will do the good ole copy and paste method (sometimes with attribution) from someone else’s hard work. But because they can be everything you would hope their blog would be on Twitter, people are either too dumb or naive to realize they are being had.
I have often wondered how certain “experts” are able to be such experts in so many different ways on so many different topics, all while I am seeing them tweet (at-length) about one particular subject for hours at a time. How do they have the time to watch so many games, read so many books, and tweet 23948290843 times a day?
To possibly clear up a possible misinterpretation, let me go back over that last part a bit. Covering the news is something every general sports blog has to do. So I am not knocking anyone, or any one site, for doing so. Very few people on this planet have access to every star entertainer and athlete to break all of their own news. So, yeah, it makes sense that high-volume blogging ends up being a billion different blogs, covering the same story, a billion only slightly different ways.
However, it is the people who take that news, make that short post off of someone else’s hard work, and then immediately goes to Twitter to do discuss it, which completely boggles my mind.
Twitter is for commenting on things. That is not lost on me. Although, if you are intending to be a sports personality I am supposed to care about, shouldn’t your post have the same insight as your tweets? Hell, maybe I am asking for too much here.
Now, the complete opposite can be said for people with very few followers or even the ones who put little to no importance to their social media brand. One of my favorite writers on the planet, Flinder Boyd, is a very successful long form writer. That’s despite the fact he uses Twitter much in the same way most of us use our cell phones to text.
Boyd’s reputation as a talented storyteller has not taken a hit. However, his appeal to the masses may have. As of this typing, Boyd currently has 1,300 followers. That is a pretty good number (I guess?). Yet, there are some folks roaming around on Twitter with just as many or more who are certainly not as talented as Boyd. Does that mean Boyd is actually not talented or that Darren Rovell is more important to the world because he has over 465,000 followers he can tell about some Taco Bell spot?
It could just be the fact that Rovell has, and still does, worked for huge media outlets. That he was more of a brand than Boyd before Twitter even became a thing. That’s not even an attempt to put Rovell down either. Although, no person puts more importance to Twitter than him. But the idea that 465,000 people are that locked into this, is rather comical.
Maybe we are doing what we are conditioned to do. Like pro wrestling in the 80s. When the (then) WWF could tell you who were the good and bad guys. You didn’t actually know. Some of the fellas didn’t even talk. But hey, the announcers were telling you that the Warlord was a bad dude and you believed them — even without knowing if Gorilla Monsoon had a hidden agenda against the Warlord or something.
We are constantly told the importance of Twitter. Companies hire people to run their accounts because of it. People have literally bought people to follow them to boost their social media brand. All in the name of false success, or the idea that with a high Twitter follower account will come success, or the potential follower or (really) customer would be tricked into thinking you are worth something to invest time into.
It should go without saying, even though I am about to say it, that a person or company can have a high follower count and be good on both their social media accounts and in their products. So please don’t take this as a way of me putting down all people with eleventy-billion followers.
Twitter can be considered a lot of different things to a lot of different people. What it definitely is, though, is a place where racism runs rampant, keyboard tough guys call out others, and everyone is an expert, despite very few experts in any field actually existing. I mean, for nearly every Twitter bio to read “CEO of myself” or whatever blog they started, all while their bio picture is taken in their mother’s basement (mine is in my father’s, so ha!), they can’t all be geniuses, right? On the other hand, they can’t all be morons either (that isn’t a scientific fact, yet).
I guess what Twitter can boil down to, or at least how we perceive what we think Twitter is, is what is success?
Can a person or company be successful without Twitter? The answer is, of course they can. At the same time, it obviously doesn’t hurt if they are good at hurling out some witty sentences in 140 characters or less. Still, I (and I’ll acknowledge I am likely in the minority on this) think we gauge a person’s worth via followers far too much.
A blue check mark next to a person’s name does not validate them. It might verify their account, it might add to their follower count, it might even make them feel validated to some extent. Honestly, maybe that’s all Twitter is. A way for each of us to feel validated in whichever area of expertise we are striving to be successful in.
Yeah, validation. That’s it. Twitter is about feeling validated.
So, um, make sure to follow me on Twitter, guys.