Why Your 4,243,564 Twitter Followers Don’t Mean Jack


When Twitter launched four years ago, it (perchance inadvertently) gave businesses the most precious gift imaginable: an intimate glimpse into consumers’ daily lives. It gave them the power to monitor brand reputation in a clean, accessible interface. Corporate brands like @Zappos & @Zappos_Service, @Starbucks, @DellOutlet, @JetBlue, and @TheHomeDepot, as well as personal “brands” like @StephenFry and @AlyssaMilano have been wildly successful with social media because they’re structured, devoted, attentive, engaging and personable.

Tragically, there are also bandwagon-jumping companies and celebrity glory-whores who go at Twitter like a portly dude at a buffet. They use it as self-centered bullhorn and nothing more.

Look- the versatility of social media is undeniable.  Twitter’s technology lends itself to a multitude of demographics with myriad interests, motives and objectives. In that regard, @UserA doesn’t really have the authority to blast @UserB for “using Twitter wrong.” The use is open to interpretation. Just like some people put cucumbers in their salad, some people put cucumbers in their facial regimen, and some people put cucumbers in… well, you get the picture.

Still, in the broadest sense, the fundamental function of Twitter is arguably one of communication. Lest we forget, boys and girls, communication is a two-way street. As such, tweets are a two-way street. But some self-indulgent socialites and clueless corporations haven’t gotten that memo.  Worse yet, some of them cultivate enormous followings simply because of their offline notoriety. Irksome. (Some fall flat on their face, never to exceed 700 followers despite their brick-and-mortar success… a refreshing taste of karma.)

Let’s sit back and collectively shake heads at their blunders so that we may learn from them, shall we?

1) You have 822,780 followers. You follow two people. | @DaveJMatthews

Dear Mr. Dave J. Matthews: you follow two people, and that tells us you don’t care what’s going on in your fans lives. May we assume those 800k+ followers are fans? Oh, and why do you have 800k+ fans when you haven’t tweeted in almost three months? That’s not an invitation to come back, though. The Internet can do without your useless white noise.

2) Your feed consists of status updates. And only status updates. | @Yankees


This feed is literally lobotomytastic to look at. While informative, the monotony is mind-numbing. This is what the MLB RSS is for. The Yankees are shooting themselves in the foot (those are pretty useful for athletes, aren’t they?) by not taking advantage of Twitter’s dynamic platform and exciting community-building potential.

3) You don’t interact with anyone. And the only person you RT is one of your directors. | @DisneyPixar

It’s mildly understandable why people like @BritneySpears have gazillions of followers and get away with merely tweeting (or ghost-tweeting) about their day-to-day and comeback concerts. But it’s difficult to imagine waking up and thinking, “I must know what Disney Pixar is up to! To the Twitterfeed!” What makes companies fun to follow on Twitter is when they engage their audience in a meaningful way.

4) You share would-be Zen gems through a f*cking API. | @yokoono


That’s a really nice sentiment to share with your friends on Twitter! Except, the inspirational tweet was fed through an automated API. That totally negates the whole Zen-factor. The impact of such sentiments would increase exponentially if it was actually passed from one person to another.

5) You use your 160 character Twitter bio as a legal disclaimer. | @DrPhil


This is just wrong. And insulting. And wasteful. And worthless. Abandon Twitter bios often top the list of Twitter profile no-no’s, but in this case that’d be more tolerable than this bullcrap.

6) You dove into Twitter because it seemed cool. And then you just, like… stopped. Then you started using an API for your PRs. And we all hated you a little bit more. | @tgifridayscorp


Companies who thrust themselves into Twitter without a clear set of goals are setting themselves up for humiliation. Just because Twitter is free doesn’t mean the marketing campaign should be half-assed. This pitiful stream of tweets will haunt TGI Friday SERPs for all eternity. (Hat-tip @PureDriven for this example.)

7) You don’t encourage, you expect. (And you @mention yourself. Seriously?) | @coldstonecream


Coldstone makes some wicked tasty ice cream. But what kind of success can they hope to achieve with social media when they talk at people rather than with them? The last @mention they exchanged with another real live human being was in April of 2009. (Hat-tip to @MerryMorud for this laughable gem.)

So you see, boys and girls…

While we can’t stomp our feet and blast these people for trashing the concept of Twitter, they certainly are screwing themselves out of the as-yet unparalleled power of Twitter as a tool for social interaction. Why? Because they’re not interacting. They’re not sharing. They’re blaring.

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