Twitter By The Numbers

Numbers Matter in Twitter

Numbers Matter in Twitter

Maybe you weren’t good with numbers in school. Maybe numbers were boring to you and now you’re happier letting someone else deal with the “math” of your life. There are just a few numbers that you might want to consider when you delve into Twitter a little deeper. You could use some of these numbers to help you track your progress on Twitter.

Ratio of Followers to Following

Twitter by the Numbers

Twitter by the Numbers

Like your cholesterol’s HDL versus LDL ratio, it’s important to shoot for a “good ratio.” On Twitter, that means roughly one follower to one following. Celebrities or superstars may have a huge number of followers and follow very few people. Some people won’t follow those with low numbers of followers (something to keep in mind if you’re going to run out and follow 2,000 accounts when only 17 people follow you). Decide if you want to follow a million people without many of them following you back. What do you get out of following all those celebrities, anyway? You could cut them loose and just put them on a list. For me, the most important thing when deciding to follow is good content and conversation.

Number of Tweets

You might want to look at an account’s number of tweets to decide if they would be a good fit. I am fairly chatty (which is prolific) on Twitter, so someone with only a few tweets may not be the best fit for me. If the account has only 23 followers, I will probably dominate their Twitstream, since I tweet 20+ times a day and that’s on a slow day. However, some newbies find that they really like the chatty nature of Twitter. But if you’re not going to have conversations on Twitter, you might not want to follow people with huge numbers of tweets. First check how many tweets a user averages before following them if too many tweets is a concern to you.

Number of Listings

Number of Listings

Number of Listings

The number of times you’ve been listed by others is a good indication of Twitter success in my book. So although this isn’t your usual key performance indicator, it’s one that is more important than followers, especially since followers can be bought. Being listed is a real badge of honor because it means that someone took the time to create a list and then put you on it. Take a look at my friend, @TerriNakamura’s listings, for example. She has been listed over 3,500 times. To me, that’s a real sign of success on Twitter.

Total Number of Followers

The total number of followers isn’t the most important number to many social media experts. Partly that has to do with how easy it is to plunk down some cash and buy followers. There are ways to tell if someone bought Twitter followers. And if you think big accounts are all truthful, Gizmodo has a great article about celebrities and their fake followers. In fact, selling followers on Twitter has become a huge business lately.

Which Numbers Impress You?

Are you impressed by large numbers of followers? Why or why not?


  1. I HATE Twitter lists. I have some just to improve my numbers but I NEVER use them. I like my stream random. I follow well and if I don’t have time to sit around on Twitter for hours I just check my @ mentions. If I have a little more time I read a bit of whatever is streaming, post sometimes and RT a lot more.

    I need to make a blog post about the Perks that arrived over the weekend due to my Klout score. Fair Trade goodies. They really hit the spot.

    A large number of followers does not impress me. Engagement and content are the only things I care about. If someone shares well but isn’t overly personal I am okay with that. I also love it when people are monitoring their account and know how to pay attention and react to what is going on.

    • Hi ToscaSac,

      There is a certain joy at discovering interesting tweets at random. While it can be overwhelming to some, you don’t sound like one of them!
      Engagement and content are priorities for most people.
      Thanks for commenting. I hope you enjoy your Klout goodies!


  2. Dude. You are a blog posting powerhouse these days.

    This is great.

    Twitter will only verify celebrity accounts. And then you run into ratios.
    If the numbers overwhelm, then put people on list by topic or geography and use a third-party app like Hootsuite or TweetDeck.

    I go back and forth but the bottom line is this: it’s kind of pompous to think we should all follow (them) but they won’t follow us. That’s not social, that’s an RSS feed.

    • Thanks, Bridget! I ran into someone who works at Twitter, and he said that spending a certain amount on advertising will get you the big verified checkmark. Having a certain number of followers and being a celebrity certainly help. Yes, lists are the way to sanity on Twitter, and they are so underused.

      As you say, it’s pompous to think that following should be one way. For me, I want to be sure that someone is actually there, so if an account just blasts out tweets and never engages, I won’t follow. Unfortunately, quite a few accounts only blast out tweets and never engage.

      Thanks again for commenting!

  3. Do you have a recommendation on a tool that tells you how many times you’re listed?

    • Hi Bridget,
      The easiest way to check is to use Tweetdeck. (I just used the desktop version to make sure it still works.) Go to the top right, and search on the account. To the right of Followers, there should be a “Listed” number, which used to show in Twitter, but no longer does, unfortunately.
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Kim Stebbins says

    Thanks Carol, for the good lesson! I’m not dealing with 1000’s of followers so lists still elude me–I guess because I don’t really have the need (yet!). I do use Tweepi (and there are others similar) to unfollow those I followed and who haven’t followed back after a reasonable amount time, and also to follow those I might want to follow who are following me and maybe I missed them. It helps me to keep the 1:1 ratio intact. . Tweepi also gives you a good bit of info about the tweeting habits, etc.
    I, for one, enjoy your prolific tweeting. My industry is “industrial” and quite frankly, my feed isn’t always the most interesting (my own stuff included, I’m sure), so I am happy for you to tweet away!
    Kim Stebbins

    • Hello Kim,
      You’ll eventually get into the 1000s of followers (unless you decide to keep your numbers down on purpose) and then lists will really help. Seriously, I don’t know how people can survive Twitter without lists–I’d go insane for sure!
      And I’m glad you enjoy my prolific tweeting. I always figure I’m not for everyone and will find my audience. People who can make industrial tweets interesting get twice as much credit in my mind. Taking what could be a boring subject and making it interesting? Double gold bonus points!
      Thanks for commenting! I really appreciate it, Kim!

  5. Good article. I absolutely appreciate this website.

    Keep it up!

  6. Bridget,
    All those things drive me crazy, too! There are just too many things to rant about, punctuation-wise.
    Stop making things up, people!
    Thanks for the comment!


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