How many profiles should you follow on Twitter? Fast answer: as many as you can honestly manage.
There is no universal magic Twitter following figure that everybody needs to observe or should strive to meet. It’s entirely up to you. You should follow as many users as you find comfortable. And it’s important that you’re honest about this number, and that you aren’t simply following profiles because you feel it’s something you should do, or because you’re hoping that they will follow you back, because this isn’t how Twitter works. In fact, behaving in this way is counter-productive to enjoyment.
Follow too many people on Twitter and one or two things will happen:
1. Because of the sheer volume of tweets you’ll be forced to ignore many of them (or will simply miss their updates)
2. Twitter will be completely ruined for you
Indeed, when you’ve been active on Twitter for a while, you should instinctively know when you’ve reached your following limit, because Twitter will let you know, either by forcing you to make adjustments in the way that you use it (simply to cope), or by driving you nuts.
So keep the following in mind:
1. If you’re just getting started with Twitter, try and maintain a 1:1 ratio of follows-to-followers – that is, you should be following no more than the same amount of people that follow you. This can be tricky for the first few weeks and months (and when you first join Twitter it’s impossible unless you choose to follow nobody). But once you reach a 1:1 ratio it’s worth preserving, with the ideal then being to work towards improving this ratio in your favour (which you accomplish by being interesting and useful)
2. Why? If you follow a LOT more people than follow you, it can be off-putting to a lot of other users, as it can make you look like either a churner or a spammer. This may not be true, but first impressions count and in social media judgements are often made in split seconds. If you get too far ahead, let your followers catch up before you follow some more
3. Don’t be a churner or a spammer
4. Everybody needs a follow policy. Following somebody for the sake of it, or in the anticipation of a +1, is foolish – the only meaningful +1 you’ll see is in an increase of noise
5. Always try and add value to your network. Have a reason before clicking on the follow button
6. You’re under no obligations to follow anyone
7. You’re under no obligations to keep following anyone
8. Prune your Twitter network on a regular basis. Take a look at who you are following and if you don’t recognise some avatars or haven’t engaged with someone in forever, unfollow them. It pays to trim your network down by 10 percent (sometimes more) every couple of months just to freshen things up. It helps to keep Twitter interesting, relevant and valuable
Bottom line? If you never look at your home feed because there are too many tweets, or have everybody in your network broken down into lots and lots of Twitter Lists, you’re almost certainly following too many people.
My honest opinion is that nobody really needs to follow more than a few hundred profiles, because nobody can (again, honestly) follow that many profiles, at least not convincingly using the strictest definition of that word.
Equally, if you don’t follow enough people, Twitter is always going to seem empty and slow.
I’d say a realistic number for most users is about 150 follows, but it really depends on what you want from Twitter, and what Twitter wants from you.
Strive to find your Twitter equilibrium – that pleasing balance between too much and not enough.
As I said at the start, hang around on Twitter long enough and you’ll soon have an understanding of what your number is, because it will simply feel right, and that you aren’t being forced to spread your attention too thinly. Typically that figure will drop as your experience grows and you start to follow more of the right people.
And ‘right’, of course, is the right people for you. And that’s really what it’s all about.
(+1 image via Shutterstock.)