Why Not To Reach 50,000 Twitter Followers

David Meerman Scott is someone you should follow on Twitter. He’s author of one of my favorite books,  The New Rules of Marketing and PR (and, I can’t find my dog-eared copy, darn it), and he blogs over at Web Ink Now.

As I was trolling through Google Reader for some blog fodder, I came across his post today, The Secret to Getting 50,000 Followers on Twitter (and, if you read the blog, there is no secret). David says it takes blood, sweat and The Grateful Dead to hit 50K (well, not really).

(Just to share, I like having handsome men imaged on my blog; David’s mug came directly from his blog, link above).

Since 2008, here’s what David Meerman Scott has done to reach Twitter nirvana — 50,000 followers (extracted exactly from his blog):

Now, I’ll share my thoughts about why you should never wish to reach 50,000 followers on Twitter:

1. You’ll never make a connection with anyone because the stream will be flying at warp speed.

2. You’ll be considered a jerk because anyone who mentions you or asks you a question will need to get in line for your response.

3. You’ll never be able to discern a legitimate direct message from junk mail.

4. You cannot strike up a one-off convo about music  with just anyone because tweeps will get jealous you’re not paying attention to them, too.

5. Your in box will be loaded with tweets, and your smartphone will show more Twitter activity than emails.

6. There will not be enough columns on TweetDeck or HootSuite to deliver the numerous hashtag chats you’ll want to engage in. In fact, you’ll need quadruple monitors to manage Twitter apps.

7. Twitter will become a one-way, outbound channel for you to promote your blogs, books and banter; no two-way communication.

8. You’ll stop following anyone else because that means you’d need to spend a day returning the follow-me-I’ll-follow-you favor.

9.You’ll just start RT’ing tweets without any screening so you can stay on followers’ good sides.

10. And, in reference to the list above…uhm, is that humanly possible, David? You’re not jivin’ us, are you?


Jayme, I remember when I first started using Twitter for New England Multimedia a little over a year ago, how enamored I was with the thought of having tens of thousands of followers! That was before I understood how Twitter worked for a business, though. For people like you and I, engagement/conversation/relationship with our market is very important, and a serious investment of our time each day. Without those relationships, our time on Twitter does us no good whatsoever. Time is money. We'd be wasting our time and driving ourselves into the poorhouse if we weren't building relationships with businesses who may need our services, or with influencers of OUR target market who we hope will retweet us or engage with us and give us market credibility.

My goals are different from David Meerman Scott's. My role in New England Multimedia is to get the word out to people that our specialty is personalized service. We work very closely with our website, Wordpress, social media and video clients, so for us, social media is ALL about the relationships.

David Meerman Scott has reached a different place on Twitter -- that of a "power influencer." The value of his Twitter following is different from ours. His followers find value not in engagement with him necessarily, but in hearing what he has to say. That's how he became an author who's actually selling books, a keynote speaker who's actually paid to teach at conferences, and now the subject of a blog post designed to engage him and bring traffic to your site. (The latter being perfectly legitimate, by the way!)

Some of our relationships may be with influencers like David, but maybe not. They can't be forced. For example, Mark Schaefer is an influencer, and you have a social media relationship with him. Being retweeted or engaging in back-and-forth with Mark brings you a certain measure of credibility among his followers, and could legitimately translate into business coming your way.

There's so much more I could say on this, but the comment will become too lengthy! I'm certain David has several private lists of people he's talking to on a regular basis. I do -- it's called "Favorite Follows." And no one but me knows who they are. ;o)

Jenn Whinnem
Jenn Whinnem

Michelle, you so eloquently illustrate why someone would want a flexible strategy when it comes to Twitter. You want to know why you're doing it (strategy), and then you need to be able to change your approach should it not work (flexible). My initial Twitter strategy was to follow people who would help me figure out what the heck to do with Twitter. Like you, I was initially a little starstruck by people I followed with thousands of followers. I had follower envy! But then I realized most of the people with that many followers weren't really interested in having conversations with people outside their chosen circle, and I lost interest in both talking with them and BEING them. I realized I wanted to have meaningful connections - strategy change!

I still don't have thousands of followers (nor am I following thousands of people), and I don't want them. My attention doesn't scale that well.

These days I use Twitter to stay aware of social media trends, and to connect with like-minded people.I actually have some new things to learn, so I'm about to change up my Twitter stream again.


I always like reading your insights in responses, Michelle. What's funny is that I didn't write that post about David M. Scott to "engage him and bring traffic to my site." That was the farthest thing from my mind, seriously.

Maybe that's my problem here? I'm not writing with a result in mind (more followers, more subscribers, more analytics), yet I know I want more people to read the post (b/c I had a lot of fun writing it, too).

David did respond to my post via Social Media Today (where there were four comments from new readers and several became new Twitter followers), and he shared how he uses Twitter differently ...than we do.

I'm going to draft up a new post with his reply and add yours, too. Excellent points as to our little-guy size versus his "power influencer" persona.

Thank you, Ma'am!


Jenn, Twitter strategy is so important, even if your only reason for being there is to talk about what you ate for breakfast! First you have to ask yourself why you're there and what you hope to accomplish. Then follows the "who" of Twitter -- who you want to talk to, who you want to listen to, and who you want to be listening to YOU. I'm goal-oriented by nature, so it follows that I wouldn't just be on Twitter to "be there." I have a purpose, and I'm purposeful. But yes, my strategy changes as my goals change!!


Ahhh, Jayme -- herein lies the reason behind your "dispute" with Mark Schaefer about which drives blogging, PR or Marketing!

If you're using the internet to bring in business (which I assume your website is designed to do -- to be a business card of sorts), you have to think MARKETING. Who is your target market? Who is the most likely to need your services? Those are the people you want to bring in to your website by way of your blog. Those are the people you want to seek out on Twitter and LinkedIn (and point back to your website by way of your blog, when appropriate). Those are the people you want to "Like" you on Facebook (and again, point back to your website). That's the audience you want to speak to on your blog. And that takes a marketing focus.

The influencers who have the potential to send business your way are those who are being followed by your target market(s) -- but only if those influencers are engaging with you publicly. That's why I assumed wrongly that you had written this post. I thought you were trying to get David's attention and engagement, so his followers would see it and check you out -- and perhaps hire you!


Here we go...I agree with all you say and yet marketing goals are to drive sales and revenue and PR's goals are to influence positioning while helping drive sales and revenue.

Is it safe to say I blog for content while you blog for traffic? Thus PR drives blogs and marketing drives revenue? Is that why I didn't think of "engaging David Meerman Scott to drive traffic to my blog?" Rather, I thought how zany 50K followers was and I knew I couldn't manage them and said so.


What a revelation -- I don't have a marketing focus to my blogs or my business. This is fascinating. Oh, yes, and let me set the record straight and aim the arrow closer to the bulls eye (the middle of my forehead in this case)...I wrote a blog awhile ago "PR Drives Marketing." I still believe it. If we drill down to blog-only debate, you're spot on.

I need to do some major thinking about this. It boils down to the monetization thing.

Michelle...thank you!