Writers, we need to talk. I know you’ve been told that social media is the holy grail of indie marketing, but I think some of you may have gotten the wrong idea.

Here’s what happens. You’re on Twitter right? And you look around you and say, “I need more followers to hawk my wares at. How else am I ever going to make it as a writer?”

Well I am here to tell you exactly how you get bunches and bunches of people following you. Are you ready? Here goes:

Find a bunch of people who’s “follower” to “following” ratio indicates that they follow back, and then follow them. And if they don’t follow you back within a week or so, unfollow those ungrateful jerks and look for more accounts that are ripe for the picking. And when you hit Twitter’s limit on the number of people you’re allowed to follow, gripe and whine about it like the shameless leech that you are.

Don’t worry about silly things like “connecting” with people or “making friends.” Don’t try to learn anything except how to expand your Twitter empire. And definitely don’t make an effort to be interesting in any way.

Okay, since it was theoretically possible that some of you didn’t get it, THAT WAS SARCASM!

Over the months that I’ve been on Twitter I have come to hate this practice with a purple burning rage. It’s part of the reason I’ve stopped automatically following people back. It’s not that I’m not grateful for the people who really are interested in me and what I have to say, but there are just so many people out there engaging in this practice that now I only follow back people who engage me in actual conversation.

But the thing that really tipped me over the edge enough to post about this, was that recently I read a blog post recommending in all seriousness exactly the kind of follow trolling I just described as a legitimate way of building your platform.

[Head Explodes Here]

Here’s the thing. I get it. I know you want to be the one with thousands of followers and a massive Klout score. But instead of follow trolling, I have a better idea.

Try having something to say.

Be funny. Be interesting. Be informative. Be just plain weird if you want to.

And I’m not saying you can’t give up your humanity, and only tweet something that’s interesting or witty. Talking about your normal boring life is fine too from time to time.

But whatever you do stop playing the numbers game. Because I can promise you the thousands of people who are following you back just because you followed them, aren’t going to have nearly the same level of involvement with you as the people who are following you because they want to hear what you have to say.

I’m not saying quantity doesn’t matter. I’m just saying quality matters more.

So stop looking at Twitter like a marketing platform, and start looking at it as a digital world filled with amazing people, with insights to share, jokes to tell, and advice to give. Because that’s what it is.

Twitter is made out of people.

And that is it’s power.

[No, you’re not getting a Soylent Green reference. Seriously, have you people even seen that movie?]


  1. Dear Albert,

    I told several people to follow you today (because you are cool). Now if you don’t follow them, will they refuse to cash my social capital?

    Desperate for Friends.

    Seriously, though, I just wrote a post almost identical to this a couple weeks ago. (Not that you’re copying — great minds think alike, blah, blah, blah.) Drives me crazy with all the mass following and unfollowing. Besides when I get inundated by Tweets from a bunch of people who I have no connection to, I end up feeling like a droog from A Clockwork Orange with my eyes forced open. Gives me a Twitter headache.

  2. This is exactly one of the reasons I left Twitter- the empty follow-back / unfollow-back game playing. That, and too annoying and too noisy. Plus too much hype from / about the lemming-leading $ocial media maven(s).

    Not that you asked. 🙂

  3. Agreed. Thirty people who will click on your link when you update your blog is better than 1,000 followers who ignore you. Also, when I stopped auto following back all those annoying auto DMs disappeared. Amazing how that works.

    I’m with you. I’ll follow people whose names I recognize, people who talk to me or people who post helpful links. I want to be a relevant follower to people I’m following, too.

  4. If I auto followed everyone, and made a conscious effort to follow more people, I know those numbers would jump.

    But I agree with you, quality should outweigh the quantity. I’m all for following people that engage me, or that I find interesting (even if they aren’t following me). I’d rather have people choosing to follow me for content than to be a number.

  5. I’ve seen so many references to Soylent Green lately that I finally had to watch it! My brother had spoiled the plot for me years ago but at least now I can actually say I’ve watched.

    So, I think it would be interesting if you wrote a story about a social media (not that you would probably want to name names) that WAS secretly Made of people or at least their souls. Wait, maybe South Park already did that…Hmm.

  6. I independently thought of “twitter is people”, tweeted it to Steve Martin because I heard on NPR the other day that he sometimes retweets things that amuse him, then decided to do a Google search to break my heart once again because someone beat me to my brilliance. The top result (which means there are others) was yours. I’ll now follow you, just because. I’ve been on twitter for about a month now, and use it mostly as a less annoying reddit — a way to find interesting content on the web. I was amazed to see people follow me who seemed to have no reason to, but I quickly caught on to why. My followers peaked at 7; I’m down to 4 now, because I won’t automatically follow anyone back. I will check my temp followers out, but so far none of them have interested me.

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