Dump your followers!

Picture credit: NathanHulls.Com

This post was prompted by a conversation I had in the #MMChat on twitter, that takes place Monday nights. We got a little hung up on the whole “engagement” thing.

I get tired of being told that:

“It’s all about the engagement”,

“It’s all about the conversation.”
Time for a reality check. A minimum of 95% of the connections in mostpeoples  networks  are passive in social-media channels. It’s a bit like the number of people who have real conversations with others outside of their immediate circle or acquaintances in a bar not very many. Social, often reflects real life.

I like to think I engage quite a lot. In any one day I will join conversations, tweet individuals directly, take part in twitter chats, introduce others and comment or answer questions where I can. I think I’m quite social. I will also talk to strangers in bars or on trains. it’s the way I am made up, but I recognise that most others are different.

I have 6327 followers, and follow 5,686 as of now. I have 2,500 “friends” on Facebook and 1,800 connections on Linked In., as well as owning 2 groups, 1 with 6,800 members and 1 with 700 members. Some of these people will be connected with me across multiple channels and others just in one place. Some will be idle accounts and others will be number collectors that are LIONS on Linked In or hoping for a follow back. (Not sure on the Facebook term? Promiscuous Friends?).  The odd one stripper or spammer may have slipped through. Not giant numbers, but bigger than the average and growing every day.

Within this collective network, I have no more than 100 separate interactions with individuals in a day. Thats a very small % of people I’m engaging with, and I’d suggest that those with smaller networks have about the same ratio of follower/friend/connection engagement.

I monitor my mentions column on tweetdeck because I think this gives me some indication. This rarely goes over 150 mentions a day and is usually closer to 100. Now either I’m doing this social-media thing completely wrong, or people, on the whole prefer to watch others talking as an audience. You need the conversations and posts to keep the audience interested, but they are unlikely to engage with you very often.
That doesn’t mean I undervalue those I “talk” to, far from it, they are the most important people in my network because together we provide content. our conversation must be interesting or so many people wouldn’t be listening, but for most, it is a one way relationship.

To those who state quite loudly that they only want engaging followers or a network they converse with, I suggest the following action:

Unfollow, defriend and disconnect anyone that you have not had engagement with in the last month.

If you really believe that it is all about those that engage with you. Demonstrate that your belief  in what you are posting and see how it works.

Now I’m willing to bet that you would end up with a very small network with limited future growth. You will all be talking to each other, but if you are doing all the talking, who is doing the listening? You will be more clique-munity and less community!

The majority of any network like to lurk and not take part. This may go on for months and then suddenly change. Your passive followers and friends are just as important. It’s not about the engagement or the conversation, it’s about the content you are putting out, and that you are keeping your audience entertained or educated.

What do you think? Am I mad to question this? Do your numbers tell you something different? Do I just not “get it?” Would be good to hear in comments.

Keep being ambassadors, in any way you choose,



The Social CMO

9 comments on “Dump your followers!

  1. Hi Bill,

    I fully agree with you that there two types the actives & lurkers and both have their own value and place within the social media ecosystem.

    It’s been stated numerous times that approximately 10% of social media users generate the lions share of activity.

    And for example, on the #MMchat which sparked your rant above (see transcript http://bit.ly/GlenGilmore ) I am quite sure that there are many more lurkers than there are active participants which is likely the case every week.

    Many are still acclimatizing to the social media paradigm and in my view will emerge when they are comfortable/ready to do so or of course if they feel so inclined, continue lurking in perpetuity.

    Obviously #MMchat wouldn’t be much fun if everyone lurked, but that doesn’t devalue the role of all those listeners out there absorbing the ideas and information being tossed about by the @BillBoormans and other roustabouts of the tweetsphere!

    So I agree, active participants in social media are great, but equally so Long Live the Lurkers!




    • Jeff,
      Thanks for commenting, and creating the platform where it all started, in MMChat. you know this talk upsets the purists and marketeers, but I think we need to acknowledge that it’s not networks we build, it is audience and readers. take this approach, and your thoughts on social media change.
      Keep the lurkers happy, only great content will do that!

  2. Bill, I guess it depends on the objectives of your social media presence. I may have 1400 followers on Twitter, but they are forged predominantly by people who may need my service one day. They don’t need to talk to me to be relevant to me. That’s not to say they aren’t active twitterers – but they don’t have to talk to me very often, I wouldn’t expect it. But up to 5/6 times a day, I get a DM out of the blue, or an email – that will say “I’ve been following you on Twitter…” – and the rest is business.

    Social Media is a form of marketing, not a form of sales. Marketing thrives equally on the passive observer, the subconscious follower, who through increased exposure to your existence, will engage in a query or a sale.

    I think it’s when we get caught worrying too much about short-term impact, when we start incorrectly analysing the numbers.

    Incidentally, due to a follow/follower imbalance yesterday I had a necessary following purge – and found it very easy to lose 75 I followed out of 2000-odd. But I didn’t want to lose any more.

    By the way. A final point. It’s partly about engagement, and it’s partly about the conversation. But it’s also about listening.

    Maybe sometimes Lurking = Listening…

    …let’s not disqualify the quiet ones.

    Cheers, Steve

    • Steve,
      Glad you dropped by. Lurking is a mix of listening or taking a snapshot look at what is going on. You will have people quiet for months, then they will jump in and want to talk. They haven’t spoken to you yet because they haven’t had either need or opportunity. When that happens, they appear and you all become more active. When the need is over, they go quiet again. this is fine, because my active followers keep me more than busy enough.

  3. Hi Bill

    I have been having this same conversation with people since I started a blog more than 5 years ago. (and hands up, I am not the most prolific blogger in the world). I liken it to the old question: “if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there, does it make a sound?”

    As a blogger, blog commenter and writer of content on many websites before starting RCEuro.com, and in conversations with others who would do the same, we wondered – If we are writing content and no one comments, does that mean no one is reading it? Does that mean we have no impact and therefore should we even be bothering?

    it is not until you look at the statistics behind your blog (or as you do with your twitter analysis) that you begin to see what effect you might be having. So, for my last 15 blog posts, I have averaged over 275 hits, yet have had only 2 comments. Does that mean over 4500 readers are lurkers? Or are they just looking to be informed, as they are when they read the morning paper or turn on the morning news?

    I agree, we talk about SM as ‘being about the conversation’, as ‘engagement’ and so on. Both of these terms would require at the minimum two-way communications. That is why I talk about the necessity to choose the communication channel that your constituency wants to use to engage with you.

    Thanks for sparking some morning thoughts.



  4. You’ve got me following your blog now!

  5. Very interesting Blog and I whole-heartedly agree!
    I reviewed my Network recently and decided that despite the fact it was 16M strong, it was all but useless!

    I live and work in the UK and the majority of my contacts were anywhere but!

    So I started a cull !

    I have to admit to getting a bit “bottom lippy” as I saw my total Network shrink to 10M

    I have know replaced my Contacts with UK contacts but more of them (First line risen from 800 to 1400) Total Network 12M.

    So now I’m more connected with the people I can help and who can help me.

    Is this the start of Regionalism, useful Networkism or some other Revolution?

    I run Groups on LinkedIn and it is difficult to get engagement from all members – there’s generally a “hardcore” to which I am very grateful.

  6. Great article on social networking sites coz I am also aspiring to own social site.

    Thanks Mate!

  7. Ill Take all of your lukers! LOL.. I love lurkers! If they dont participate, then I get them moving with my own twists…

Leave a Reply to @BillBoorman Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: