Whether you use Twitter for work, personal branding, or escapism, who you follow plays an integral part. But the more followers you get, the more you're likely to follow. The "following:follower" ratio (which I will call F:f from now on) means more than it should to outsiders looking in. If F:f is 1:≥1 (more than or equal to 1), you're not deemed as popular compared to an F:f ratio of 1:<1 (less than 1).
- Following: 1028, Followers: 521
F:f = 1:0.506
If this is a brand, likely they started by following loads of accounts. Some followed back. Others are bots/accounts who follow back regardless of who you are. Customers might see this and assume the brand isn't popular or otherwise chasing it. This is superficial on face value. Content is more important. There are examples where the ratio can flag untoward behaviour. Check out the links below under Resources and further reading.
- Following: 231, Followers: 2106
F:f = 1:8.272
That's a big ratio towards followers. Without further investigation, this account and brand/person is popular. They might have bought followers or loads of bots decided to feast on the content carcass on offer. But who has time to check that?
There's a temptation to fixate on the mystical F:f ratio. But you also want to keep abreast of your industry through many accounts. If only there was a way to meet halfway...
In fact there is and it uses an age old Twitter feature: lists.
The first thing you need to do is make a table of three columns:
- Those you follow who follow back
- Those you follow who don't follow back but whose content holds some merit
- Those you follow only through some kind of "obligation".
You can write this down or create a spreadsheet (mmm, spreadsheets!). There's no official way to export following lists but this is a decent albeit convoluted alternative.
Now you have some tough decisions to make. Most of us fear unfollowing someone and them returning the favour. You lose a follower and wonder if they'll be offended. But this is YOUR timeline. If you don't want them there, they don't have to be. Of course, you could "relegate" them to their own list but we'll get to that shortly. Once you've compartmentalized everyone, create your lists on Twitter. On a spiritual level, I believe everything we do and experience is based on energy transfer; unfollowing and moving accounts to list follows the same principle. There's still a connection but it's a little different. But rather than keep accounts on a list like dusty pig ornaments in a glass cabinet, use them. Lists are basically organised timelines. If you need some inspiration for a certain topic, tap into the relevant list.
With a more ordered following list, you can receive more necessary content and more accounts are grouped in lists. And it looks good to people who live and die by the F:f ratio.
Resources and further reading
How to use Twitter lists
3 Reasons Your Twitter Follower Ratio Is More Important Than You Know
Social networks have trained us to think in follower counts 23 Seldom-Used Ideas for How to Use Twitter Lists