The Great Twitter Followers and Facebook Friends Backlash – Why You Shouldn’t Try Too Hard to Increase Your Friend and Follower Count

For a long time now, social networking has been all about numbers. How many people are following you on Twitter, how many Facebook friends do you have and how you can bump up these numbers? It’s little surprise that searches like ‘How do I get more Twitter followers’ are higher than ‘How do I get more friends’ (true story –I checked using AdWords) – because, let’s face it, it’s much easier to get fake digital friends than real proper ones.

But does having 10,000 Twitter followers really mean anything? Yes, it does, but I would argue that the implications aren’t necessarily positive. The same goes for Facebook – does having over 1,000 Facebook friends mean you are truly popular? I’m not so sure. Back when we all joined these networks, we inevitably experienced those first few weeks of anxiety, where our friend/follower count was so low, and we couldn’t help but imagine all the people checking out our profiles and laughing at how inferior we were in the world of social media popularity. 24 friends, they would scoff, they should probably just kill themselves.

You couldn’t get a good night’s sleep until your Facebook friend count was at least 100. With Twitter, it seems like you are a nobody until you get over 100 followers, and then you’re still not much of a somebody until you’re over 500… and really, you need more than 1,000 to REALLY count. Once you get over 10,000, you get accepted into the ranks of the Holy Popular Twitterati Club or something else similarly wanky. The sad truth is that this club would really be filled with celebrities, the infamous social media samurai (of the likes of Seth Godin) and spambots.

The even sadder truth is that anyone can get over 10,000 followers on Twitter if they’re prepared to take the time to get there. It’s kinda sad how many Twitterers use the whole “will follow back” strategy to build up their network rather than just providing good, valuable and entertaining content. You see, at the end of the day, people with tons of followers and Facebook friends are mostly just sad people who spend every waking minute trolling for these connections by following other Twitter users in the hope they’ll follow them back or befriend the max amount of ‘friends’ on Facebook that Zuckers allows before he kicks you off completely.

They are often the people who have fewer real friends in the REAL world and are trying to make up for it in the wonderful world of the web, where everything can be faked. And yes, I’m sure there are a million incredulous Facebook users readying their pitchforks right now (if only my blog were that popular). And I’m sorry. But it’s kinda true. Probably most of you naïve imbeciles out there haven’t cottoned on just yet, but I, for one, have worked this out a long time ago.

The first thing I do when I accept a friend request on Facebook or see a new follower on Twitter is check their profile, and my respect for them as a real person is inversely proportional to the size of their friend/follower count. If they have more than 500 friends on Facebook, my respect is diminished. Over 1,000, and I will probably delete them on the spot. If they have thousands of Twitter followers, the same response is evoked. Harsh and probably unfair – yes – but it’s just the truth.

And that is not to say if they have 500 friends, I believe they have necessarily been trolling for friends – I am well aware that you can easily get this many friends naturally by accepting others’ requests… I’ve got a good 50 pending as I type. Put a nice hot profile pick up and watch the requests flow in. Nobody even knows where half these dropkicks come from – my profile is pretty private with strict search settings, yet I still get these weirdos who have never met me, have no mutual friends and don’t even live in the same country wanting to be my ‘friend’. But even if you haven’t been the one making the effort, it still means you’ve accepted too many.

You simply don’t have that many people that you give a shit about. Unless you are a Van Wylder wannabe, you have been a little too liberal in your Facebook friend standards. And that’s totally fine – you are completely entitled to happily boost your so-called friend circle with whatever digital vagrants come your way – just don’t expect the implication will always be that you are truly popular. The tides are changing, my friends, and soon, it will be the small few who have managed to keep their numbers to the low hundreds that will be the most respected.