Do I Need to Follow More People on Twitter? If So, Who Should I Choose and Why?

Do you need a Twitter Follow? I may be your guy.

I am shocked! My friend just told me that I am a Twitter elitist! I have 79,400 Twitter followers. I only follow 58 accounts. Is he right?

The conversation arose this morning when I asked my friend John Nosta about his social media routines. John is an accomplished guy. He is a digital health expert who advises the Google Health Advisory Board. He is Faculty of Exponential Medicine at Singularity University. He is the founder of NostaLab, he writes for Forbes and Psychology Today and he regularly speaks all over the world. In addition to all of this he also serves as an advisor for the organization that I am the Pastor and CEO of - CoCreators. I take what he has to say seriously.

I was asking John about his social media habits trying to find out what works for him. In the midst of the conversation he asked, How come you dont follow people back on Twitter? It really makes you look like a Twitter elitist. Wait, what did he just say?

Being a pastor who is seldom at a loss for words I was shocked as I stammered to have a reply. Um I guess I never really thought about it before? Is that a big deal? I said. You should follow people back, he retorted, it makes you look like you dont want to engage with people.

Now the truth is I wasnt following John on Twitter so that didnt help my cause. But, even so, I dont want people to think that I dont want to engage with them! That simply isnt the case.

But, if I am being honest, Im not sure how many people I want to follow either. Does this actually make me a Twitter Elitist? I mean how many people can a person actually keep up with? The theory of Dunbars Number suggests somewhere between 100-250 tops. So what is wrong with only following 58 people on Twitter? But again, I dont want people to think that I dont want to engage with them

So I decided to do a little Twitter research. What do the top 20 Twitter accounts with the most followers do? How many people do they follow?

As of this post:

1.Katy Perry - Queen of Twitter and Roman Candle.

Followers: 106,896,220 Following: 216

2.Justin Bieber - King of Twitter and self-professed Belieber.

Followers: 104,365,537 Following: 305,397

3.Barack Obama - 44th POTUS and with Joe Biden meme-tacular.

Followers: 101,961,256 Following: 619,333

4.Rihanna - Ms. Work Work Work Work Work herself.

Followers: 87,346,562 Following: 1,105

5.Taylor Swift - Follows No-One aka Twitter Hater-ade.

Followers: 83,398,449 Following: 0

6.Lady Gaga - from egg hatching to the silver screen.

Followers: 76,718,732 Following: 126,511

7.Ellen DeGeneres- by far the most experienced dancer on the list.

Followers: 76,248,874 Following: 35,578

8.Cristiano Ronaldo - proving what Football is the Real Football (too soon?).

Followers: 74,346,667 Following: 99

9.YouTube - owned by Internet titans.

Followers: 70,731,586 Following: 1019

10.Justin Timberlake - Mr. SuperBowl Selfie himself.

Followers: 64,358,169 Following: 287

11.Kim Kardashian West

I aint sayin she a because we all know shes got assets.

Followers: 58,722,684 Following: 136

The next three are only a year apart in age, all have had number one albums, would be an epic karaoke battle and are less than a million Twitter followers apart.

12.Ariana Grande - Followers: 57,327,772 Following: 63,302

143.Demi Lovato - Followers: 56,941,325 Following: 541

14.Selena Gomez - Followers: 56,447,907 Following: 1221

15.Britney Spears - Who is it? Its Britney, TWIT!

Followers: 56,209,373 Following: 385,072

16.Twitter The Landlords.

Followers: 55,289,369 Following: 144

17.Donald J. Trump - 45th POTUS and Mr. Late Night Tweet.

Followers: 54,254,929 Following: 47

18.CNN Breaking News - the top Twitter account that, by adding a comma, is the most ironic name.

Followers: 54,166,274 Following: 121

19.Shakira - her tweets dont lie either.

Followers: 50,703,295 Following: 211

20.Jimmy Fallon - Mr. Late Night Tweet and the 46th POTUS?

Followers: 50,335991 Following: 8,177

One can learn a lot from these stats. First, that pop singers own the Twitter-sphere. Second, that Twitter doesnt inherently MySpace Tom everybody. Third, that if the songs didnt give it away already, Taylor Swift is pretty jaded and that I can afford to buy her and all her current Twitter followers dinner (and now I also really want to be the one person she follows on Twitter)!

And the facts also show that - looky, looky John Nosta the Twitter elitist verdict is still out on me! As a matter of fact, of the top twenty Twitter accounts only seven of them follow more than 8,000 other accounts. Of the other 13 accounts only four are following over 500 accounts. And the remaining nine only follow an average of 140 accounts. Given the percentage differential between these folks followers-to-following ratio and my own I think that I am doing just fine.

I mean - Im not sure that I want to follow 10,000+ people on Twitter. I like the idea of having a few people that I can really keep up with and maybe learn something from. And I do want to be somewhat prudent with what I choose to consume from the Internet. I want to follow people for good reasons.

Yet, on the other hand, maybe I could learn some things en masse by following a bunch of people on Twitter? Realistically, I dont want people to think I dont want to engage them. Well, unless you are a Nigerian Prince who wants to bequeath me millions of dollars. I mean unless you REALLY are a Nigerian Prince who wants to bequeath you get the point.

What I am getting at is that by simply engaging with social media we are forced to make choices. And because we are forced to make choices, if we really do love people and want to show them love, then we need to genuinely struggle with what our technological actions mean for our relationships and us. We have to struggle with devising an ethic that seeks to care for others without forfeiting our God-given identity as well.

That isnt always easy. Sometimes it means that we need to stretch ourselves. Most of the time it means we need to be more reflective.

And so, if I am guilty of anything, Mr. Nosta, it is that I havent been as reflective as I need to be on this issue. So as repentance and as a way to stretch myself and be less of a Twitter elitist if that is what Ive become - I am going to agree to add one person a day for the next year to my Twitter account as long as people give me suggestions.

So now the question is, who should I follow and why? Let me know in the comments or, heck, just tweet me @benekcj.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. Is there really such a thing as a Twitter elitist and, if so, what are the determining criteria?

Q2. What responsibilities do you think that we have to Do Unto Others on social media and why?

Q3. What is one thing that you could do on a daily basis to better use social media for Good?

Comments (2)
No. 1-1
Elias Kruger
Elias Kruger


How about Twitter "slacker" who doesn't follow many and barely posts? That's me.

Daniel Passini
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Christopher Benek
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