Why do random people follow me on twitter?

May 5, 2009 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment

I’ve been using twitter for a number of weeks now.  I really like it! I have been surprised to see how the trending topics are swayed by what’s going on in different parts of the world and also a little humbled by the ability to see what a number of celebrities are up to in their day to day life.  Its fairly unique.

However, one question I have about it all concerns the random twitter users who have begun to follow me over the last few weeks. I have no idea how they find me but I do have a few theories about why they would follow me suddenly. However, based on the variety of the followers,  I can’t really make any correlation or draw any conclusions.

Thus far I have a couple of theories:

The eStatus Theory

This theory revolves around the idea that there’s something to be said for having a huge amount of people you are following on twitter.  Personally I can’t see how you’d handle the logistics of it.  I’ve only got a small number of people I follow thus far and I already find it overwhelming to wake up in the morning and have a bunch of tweets to get through.

I did ask one twitter user how they managed to follow so many people and they mentioned that they used a third-party twitter application called TweetDeck.  I’ve had a bit of a look at this application and it does certainly add some features which would assist here.  Specifically, from the people you follow, you can select a subset and group them together.  For example you could create a “family” group or a “close friends” group to keep tabs on those people.

My question still remains however, even with this ability, what’s the point of following people who you’re never going to check up on to see what they’re doing?

So my best guess is that there’s something out there somewhere that measures people by how many twitter people they are following and does some sort of ranking as a result.  The more people you are following, the higher on this eStatus scale you must be?  Surely no-one would pay attention to that however?

The “Check me Out” Theory

Invariably whenever someone follows me on twitter my immediate response from the email notification I get is to quickly check their twitter account to see who they are and if they are worth following in return.

Perhaps this is the ploy?  Its a sneaky way to get someone to look at your twitter page in the hope that they’ll like what they see and follow you, increasing your twitter audience.  This makes sense for people who are promoting businesses, products or advice – but not all of my followers fall into this category!

To analyse this further I thought I’d look at a couple of examples.  I did think twice before posting twitter accounts here but then I realised that these people’s accounts are publicly viewable on twitter, and they probably want the additional attention that results!

Number 1: @ReginaN1981

I think this is clear case of the “Check me Out” theory.  Basically trying to entice me onto another site (which happens to be about Internet dating)

Number 2: @mikesemple

I can’t really figure out why this guy would follow me.  He seems to be a bit if a self-help guy, with links to managing and making wealth etc.  At the same time he’s following over 4000 people.  I suspect he’s a combination of both theories but most likely the “Check me Out” theory applies here as he’s hoping I’ll read something into his self-help advice?

Number 3: @pcfromzero

I think this example is the same as number 2.  Someone offerring services and trying to gain a bit of exposure – this is almost the equivalent of spam??  At least I can choose to not see any of their output by not following them back?

Number 4: @sovereignbri

This is probably one of the most confusing.  I have a couple of seemingly very normal ordinairy people who have randomly started following me on twitter.  They’re not trying to sell something and as far as I can see there’s no correlation between what I may have tweeted about and what their interests might be.  This one baffles me, and I have several like it… ??

Anyhow – that’s probably enough.  I have noticed whilst writing this article that several of the spammy type people who have followed me over the last week or two no longer seem to have twitter accounts – so it seems that twitter is trying to prevent that.  Which is good!

Meanwhile I’ll continue twittering on, slightly bemused.  This week I have gone ahead and installed  a desktop client (I’m using Tweetie, still deciding whether to pay to remove the ads or not) to help me manage twitter as the people I am following is growing.  Be interesting to see what happens when there’s even more to manage over time!


Entry filed under: General Thoughts. Tags: .

Autumn… A subtle shift to organised bliss…

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