Followers: Playing the Number Games


Oh, Look! Someone just followed you on [put your favourite social network here]!

Of course, that little ‘new follower’ notification makes you happy – just a little; don’t say no! Then, unless you’re like a very celebrity-like popular kinda person, you’ll probably go and check out your new follower’s profile – you know, just to see who’s gonna see what you post.

So, what do you see? A bunch of numbers, a follow button, maybe a biography line, and then maybe their tweets or pictures or whatever it is that network’s for – of course unless their profile is private or they haven’t shared anything yet.

In this post, I’m gonna talk about a specific type of people and their numbers:

#TeamFollowBack: What losers do to get meaningless followers on [not just] twitter.

Source: TagDef

If you take a closer look at their profiles, they usually have a lot of followers, but following around the same number of people (followers/followings ratio close to one). Ok, we know we can’t ignore the effects of those numbers,  but we can make sense of them to determine quality, this is of course if you care about quality.

(Of course, anyone would say they care about quality, because they think that will make them look better, smarter, or more sophisticated – take your pick – but the truth is that many of them don’t.)

Now, back to that [notification]. So, you earned a new follower, but is he/she ever gonna read a single word you write? Or see a picture you post? Is he/she gonna engage with your content ever?!

What I mean is that having followers is not the same as having readers. And I’m sure if you’ve got to this point in this post, you know which one you are, and I’m glad you’re here : ) And also, you know which one you want to have.

I mean  anyone can have a follower, but it takes quality and consistency to earn a reader.

More Followers & Less Respect

I’m not saying that the numbers are all bad. Hell, I wouldn’t mind having a few more hundred followers, but not at the price of looking like a dumb cheat! I think it’s much better to have 20 readers out of 200 followers, rather than having 20 readers out of 50 thousand followers! For me, it’s about the engagement, rather than just the followers number.

To be completely honest, I think having many followers with no engagement, whatsoever, would even make me look stupid! I mean, for example, look at this: (oh, and by the way, after reading this, I decide to block the names – you know, less online shaming, why not?)

Followers vs Readers on Social Media
Do you have followers? Or readers?

Look at that ‘Followers’ number. What’s the point of having 51,600 followers if after two hours you get only 2 retweets? Basically, it means 51,598 of your followers didn’t give a sh*t about what you said. That’s a lot of being ignored!! I mean I’d rather have 200 followers ignore me – not 51,598! That’s a lot of self-respect down the drain!

(Oh, and I know the impression rate is not 100%, but you know what I mean, right?)

Now, back to our [notification]. If someone like this caused that notification, not only it doesn’t make me happy, but to me, this is insulting! I mean, it’s like someone took my time to tell me:

Hey, I don’t care who you are or what you write about. Follow me so I’d have one more follower; and if you don’t, I’ll unfollow you so you’d have one less follower!

Just think for a moment. Why would you wanna follow someone like this!? For quality content?! For hashtags?! Interesting tweets!? Beautiful pictures? Inspirational quotes? Breaking news!? What!?

As much as I don’t want to talk about buying followers here, I think this is even worse than that! Because when you pay for followers, although they’re useless bots, no one will notice unless they go and look through your followers, or use a tool to analyse them. But, this way, it’s like a public statement of stupidity!

(Just to be clear, I’m totally against buying followers.)

There are instances when people mass follow to let others know they’re on that platform, but at least they create – or curate – content. Okay, that’s a little bit less annoying, but still not even remotely cool.

Bottom line is that increasing the number of followers on social media isn’t something you should waste your time on, there are no real shortcuts to do it (but there are cheats and they come at a price). Oh, and by the way, paying for ads to grow the number of your followers is not cheating and it’s not buying followers, because you’re probably targeting potential readers, not followers.

Anyway, earning readers is worth working hard – even paying – for, but for me, this sums it up quite nicely:

Good Fast Cheap
You can only choose two! – words: Col @


Finally, to start the conversation, let me ask:

  • Where do you stand on the follower vs. reader discussion? And #teamfollowback?
  • Do you usually comment after you read a post?
  • Are you following me on Twit… LOL Man, I can’t even finish that sentence!



Image credit: Creatures in My Head

24 Comments Followers: Playing the Number Games

  1. Katie February 25, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    What do you think of “Follow Friday”? Does that fall into the same category as “Follow Back”?

    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad February 25, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      “Follow back” might happen, but usually, they’re not blind “follow back for follow” kinda practice.

      On Twitter, “Follow Friday” is more like a introduction/recommendation system. People usually introduce or recommend other users they actually like or find interesting.

      On Reddit, however, it’s more of a self-introduction (positive) / self-promotion (negative) sort of behaviour, but mostly to be found by others with the same interests.

      By the way, thanks for commenting : )

  2. Ali Tabibzadeh February 26, 2015 at 3:07 am

    I agree with each & every single word of this post. Actually, everything you said above were the points I wanted to mention when I saw the title. As I had no clue what you’d written in the first place. It’s better to consider about the impact, who is your audience and how your shared content reaches them, the interaction(in both quality & quantity) you have with them, … rather than playing an absurd game to push that follower number a bit just to make yourself look stupid enough by begging for followers.

    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad February 26, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      Thank you, Ali. I agree, it’s absolutely essential to know and understand your audience on any social network if you’re after creating interaction.

  3. Alireza February 26, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Since there are people/companies who pay to buy accounts with existing followers and prefer quantity over quality, such behaviors would be inevitable. Maybe the person who is aiming to increase his followers regardless to their interactions with the content, is planning to monetize his account sometimes soon, so being ignored by followers is the last important point as far as they are there as a number.
    Although, I believe any person who is seeking to spread his ideas through social media would prefer interaction over the number of followers.

    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad February 27, 2015 at 12:07 am

      That’s actually an interesting and valid point. Thank you, Alireza, for raising it.
      Just to expand on it though, I have to say that many of these people, who actually agree to pay for an existing account to rebrand it, care about what type of followers those accounts have and what their mutual interest is. They usually try to keep it as relevant as possible, so they lose less followers after the transition.

  4. Joshua Wrenn February 26, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    I don’t always comment, but if a post is good, I’ll usually “like” it if that option is available. I’ve never heard of #Teamfollowback before now so I can’t comment. And I’ve been run off Twitter, so…um…yeah, there is that. Oh, and I don’t know what Bloglovin’ is but should check it out, I guess.

    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad February 26, 2015 at 11:45 pm

      Well, thanks for making an exception then. I appreciate it. I like “likes”, but they don’t create conversations, so I prefer comments, although the odds of that happening is often low. #teamfollowback are mostly on Twitter, and to some extent on Instagram.
      And about Bloglovin’, I’m getting the feeling that it’s most popular among fashion bloggers, but again, I’m new to it too, so I’m just exploring at the moment. Again, thanks for commenting 🙂

  5. Ralph February 27, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Hey Behrouz, I definitely believe in quality over quantity. 10 followers who actually care about what you say, and engage with you is better than 100 who don’t even read your posts.

    As for the other poster who mentioned brands buying accounts with many followers, I can see that happening, although I think that’s a horrible move for the business. Chances are, their demographics would be so scattered that they wouldn’t even know who they’re catering to. And once those people realize that they’re suddenly following this strange brand they don’t care about, they would very likely unfollow. That’s exactly what those “Repost this and follow us for a chance to win ____!” posts are on Instagram. Check back a few days later and the username would have changed to something else.

    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad March 1, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Very good example, Ralph. I agree, it’s not a good move for business. Even if they don’t unfollow the rebranded account, the chances of not engaging with it goes up. For me, usually when I see an account with many followers/fans with low engagement, I know something is not right.

  6. Mamad February 27, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I’m on that with you. I’d rather have limited followers who care about what I have to say than to follow thousands to have thousands of void followers who probably got me muted! But still, there are exceptions to this too. I see “nice guys” who have this urge to followback anyone who follows them, while their huge influence attracts many followers to them. You open their profile and your like “man he follows way too many people, he gotta be one of those #TeamFollowBacks”, but they’re not!

    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad March 1, 2015 at 11:38 am

      Good point there, Mamad. I agree, you can’t just assume they’re #teamfollowback. But again, if someone is following more than 2000 users, I’m pretty sure he/she either doesn’t read them, or has a smaller list that he/she actually cares about and reads.

      1. Mamad March 1, 2015 at 12:42 pm

        Of course. 2000 is a big number, I wouldn’t even be able to read 500 users. Maybe the fact that people who don’t follow back their followers are generally referred to as “arrogant”, has a part in this too.

        1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad March 1, 2015 at 12:47 pm

          Exactly! That follow back expectation definitely plays a big role in this.

  7. Immad. March 6, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    I have been using twitter for quite some time now. There are people on twitter who just satisfy there EGO by keeping their number of following less than the number of followers. This is more like considered to be an online status quo for most of the people. Some of them just consider it their transformation into a twitter celebrity.

    1. Behrouz Jafarnezhad March 6, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      The number of followings on Twitter really bothers me if it’s too high. It’s pretty obvious that if someone’s following 5K account, he/she doesn’t read them.
      But followers will increase if someone constantly creates content.
      To be honest, after a while, I think you can spot people who are following many accounts for the sake of followback, and the ones who actually care about the ones the follow. #intuition

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  10. Kiarash moazzez October 15, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for your great article, I read it and found it very useful. but there is a question shaped in my mind that is w­­­hat should we do to earn rea­­­­­­l readers instead of followers who don’t care about what we share? I mean, what are the best ways to achieve true foll­­owers? hope to have an answer, thank you.

    1. Behrouz October 19, 2015 at 12:55 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read the article, Kiarash. About your question, the main thing about readers is that they keep coming back for more. To make sure that happens, you should be consistent in what you’re creating, whether it’s a blog or Twitter or Instagram or whatever it is. This way they know they should come back because there’s more. (Should tell this to myself! Haven’t found time to post a new articles in 3 weeks! 😄)

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