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How to keep your Twitter account in the black

Posted by Max Tatton-Brown on 28th June 2010

By now, everyone knows that Twitter is about more than just follower count.  Yes, it’s still one of the first impressions you get when you load a profile and this won’t change soon but ultimately, when it comes to followers, it’s more about quality than quantity.

Simply put, without an interested and involved audience, its difficult to generate the interactions and relationships that prove the platform’s value.

With this in mind, it recently occurred to me that maybe there’s a different way to think of follower count.  What if we considered it the same way that businesses track revenue versus profit?


In such a scenario, total number of followers becomes your total revenue.  That is to say, it should give some idea of the volume or scale of the operation you’re dealing with.

Whether because of high quality content, a regular thirty tweets a day or simply splashing out on a nefarious auto-follow service, the person running the account has clearly invested time in their Twitter profile.

Before we get into the details, it’s worth emphasizing that revenues are important.

It’s very rare that an account with only fifty followers is in its optimum position of influence.  Generally, this is instead a sign that either the content isn’t adding enough value or the user is missing opportunities to interact within wider discussions to extend their reach.

The economies of scale that come with a large group of followers are one of the key factors to maximize the return on your invested time with Twitter.  After all, you’re still inputting the same 140 characters but getting a bigger bang for your buck.

However, this is where the idea of profit comes in.


If you’ve a thousand followers but they’re largely spammers and charlatans tweeting about “red hot iPad deals” and SEO marketing, the value is going to be minimal.  If instead, they’re an interactive and relevant cross-section of stakeholders in your market, interests or products, it’s a different case altogether.

While Twitter makes it hard to work this “profitability” out for others’ follower counts, it’s a valuable distinction to bear in mind when cultivating your own community of interested users.  By all means, accept the more spurious followers into your community but be realistic about whether there are 500 people genuinely fascinated by the string of press releases that you’re putting out there.

This shift in perspective helps you assess which tweets and techniques are bringing in the right crowd.  It can be hard work finding and defining the character of your account; especially for B2B brands but this feedback is a good indicator of your success.

Ultimately, you need followers who will gain something from the relationship with your account and (if you’ll forgive the tautology) the best way to do so is make sure you’re giving them some value.  The patterns of profit as we have defined it should match up quite neatly with the degree to which you’re enhancing their social media experience.

In conclusion, it’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re looking at a situation of high revenue but low profits, it might be time to consider reworking your Twitter ‘business plan’ … or face inevitable bankruptcy.

picture credit

Max Tatton-Brown