Folla back

At an event I was at this week a couple of times it was mentioned that the imbalance between ‘following’ and ‘follower’ counts on Twitter in public sector and government accounts demonstrated a lack of engagement and ‘listening’ on their behalf.

Superficially I can see the basis of this thinking but the reality is it is a pretty poor metric to judge things by and doesn’t really factor in the reality of using that channel.

Are these organisations using Twitters own ‘list’ functionality to follow people? Are they using tools like Radian6 or Topsy to ‘listen’ and engage? The big test is when looking at their timeline is it just a one-way channel with no engagement or are they actually interacting with people on it? All these things and more are more important than the Twitter numbers.

In fact I’d be in favour of those numbers disappearing from public view anyway – maybe they can just be visible on the new Twitter analytics pages – as I don’t see what value they add these days with people buying followers and the celebs of every ilk getting ‘verified’.

[as an aside Susy at Department of Health wrote a great post recently about ‘listening’ on Twitter – well worth a read.]

3 thoughts on “Folla back

  1. Hiya! I agree to a point that’s it’s not that important but I do think following back is one small way of many that you can use to look approachable as an organisation. And some places need all the help they can get (I work in local government!).

    The factor I care about is when somebody wants to send a message privately they have to publicly ask for a follow so they can DM. I’d rather save the hassle by following them in the first place. I blogged about this a while ago – http://acedigitalcomms.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/to-follow-or-not-to-follow-on-twitter-are-you-part-of-a-community-or-are-you-aloof/.

    I love the idea of scrapping the publicness of follower numbers though!

  2. Jukesie says:

    For the DM thing see I would (and have) just give an email address to them – if they want to send something privately might as well use the right tool – DMs are a messy solution to anything really – not to be relied on.

    I agree re the perception thing with the follow back – I don’t think there is anything wrong with it – and as it happens in the past I have encouraged a high % of following back myself on corporate accounts I oversaw – I just think its unfair to use that as a reason to say orgs aren’t engaging.

  3. Yep, it’s deffo unfair to criticise an organisation for just one factor and most orgs are trying to do their best. There are no right answers that fit for everyone. Cheers for another good post – have a lovely weekend!

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