My life on Twitter part 2: The followers


Today, on April 6, 2012, I have 1082 followers.
My followers:friend ratio is 0,83. I follow 1302 people/ organizations, and 1082 follow me. Of the 1302 I follow, I am not followed back by 275. These are famous people (Tom Peters, Richard Branson, Ken Blanchard, Malcolm Gladwell) and big organizations/ institutions (Harvard Business Review, KLM, World Economic Forum). There are 55 accounts that follow me, but I do not follow back (most of them strange accounts where the identity is not very clear, such as @HappyEagleFly: “The eagle that soars in the upper air does not worry itself as to how it is to cross rivers” or @aroma_roma: “I’m a fun-loving girl with a heart for adventure, a taste for thrill and a love for all things pure and natural”).

Who are following me? I have categorized the 1082 followers in 10 categories. This was not always easy to do. Example: what to do with people who work for a HR vendor? Some networks are for-profit organizations in disguise. Below the results of my counting.

  1. One-person consultancies(29%)
    The biggest group, 321 (29%) of my 1082 followers are one-person consultancies/ free lancers/ self-employed people, whatever you call them. It is fascinating how many people have started their own company. The variety in this group is big. Leadership coaches, web designers, speech writers and mental trainers. Some examples:
    “Love Marketing and helping people get started”.
    @JeffreyTobin “I’m a professional speaker. I help organizations align their people with the company vision, so everyone is more engaged, productive… and more profitable”.
    “Business & Leadership Coach, Mentor and Facilitator. Life is like a marathon. Know where you’re going and keep going. Smile on the way”.
    The objectives of this group seem clear: they follow me in the hope that one day I will have some business where I can use their services.
  2. Various individuals (28%)
    This is a very mixed group. Most people in this group are people I started to follow, and because of the implicit Twitter etiquette they politely follow me back. With some of them the ties become somewhat stronger. They are interested in the same subjects as I am. They provide interesting content. Some examples in this group:
    @Paul_Brinkman “CEO at NESC where we build collaborative initiatives among public and private partners in education, health care, network technology and economic development”.
    @ebwatt “Lifelong student of leadership, management and communication. Mentor, coach and strategic thinker. Advocate of creativity and innovation”
    @mjcarty “Online editing and blogging type (in the HR neck of the woods)”
  3. Vendors of HR related services (13%)
    147 vendors of HR services are following me. Most of them undoubtedly found me through (automatic) Twitter searches.
    They connect to everybody with “HR” or HR related words in their bio. Most of them are uninteresting. The content they provide is sometimes good. Most of the time their approach is not very innovative. Examples (random):
    @HRalacarte “Bilingual HR consulting company providing cost-effective, success-oriented human resources solutions for growing Canadian organizations”.
    @forhirejobs “We partner with over 5K job sites,blogs and social media sites: Linkedin, Twitter & MySpace. Offering over 7M jobs and reaching 10M job seekers a month”
  4. Other vendors, mainly in the area of Social Media/ Marketing (12%)
    124 other vendors have connected to me as well. Most of them offer social media en web support. Some of them offer very specific services that are far outside my areas of interest (and influence). Two examples:
    @reachfurther“Reach Further has provided social media training & consultancy since 2006. We help you create strategy & policy, & can deliver or support”
    @AFasterPC “Computer Problems, You Need A Faster PC! We build, repair computers, provide on-site, pier to pier, active directory, site to site network, cat5 cable, tech”
  5. Networks/ Communities (5%)
    This is an interesting group. Various networks/ communities are active on Twitter, and they try to connect people with common interests. Examples:
    @artfulleaders “The Artful Leadership Network aims to empower leadership development and innovation by connecting the world of art and business. Join us!”
    @humancapleague “Blog Community for Workforce Management Professionals”
    @TLNT-com “TLNT is about The Business of HR, with news, trends, and insights from experts in HR, talent management, and areas related to managing a workforce”
  6. ARCADIS employees (4%)
    Today I am followed by 38 ARCADIS employees (this is the company where I work, I know most of these 38 personally, direct colleagues or people I have met during presentations where I referred to my Twitter activities. Given that we have nearly 19,000 employees worldwide, this looks like a small group. As this is an important target group or me, an important target is to increase the connections and interactions with this group. Some of the 38 are very active in reacting on my tweets. Example:
    @sheffters “Software developer and simulations … thats me in 34 chars … beat that you 160 char twitter fiend”
  7. Friends and people I know well (3%)
    Although this group is small, 34 people today, it is a very important group for me. These people react on my tweets not only through Twitter, but also when I meet them. Twitter certainly fuels and enriches some of the conversations I have.
  8. University professors (1,5%)
    University professors are starting to use Twitter as a medium to connect to a wider audience and to share their knowledge and insights. Very promising. One example:
    @hoogleerling “Prof. Information Management @UvA_Amsterdam. Passionate interest in inspiring forms of learning in combination with philosophy, arts, design & architecture”
  9. Family (0,5%)
    Most of my family is not interested in my tweets. We use Facebook, this is better suited for family usage. Although the tweets of my son are for me a good source of soccer information.
  10. Others, including charities (4%)
    This category contains various followers. Some of them are charities, bringing a good cause to my attention. Religious groups (anti-abortion) are particularly active. If I do not have any positive feeling about a group, I block them. This group also contains some strange followers. I have not removed them (yet…), as they might turn out to be more interesting than I thought! Three examples in this category:
    @LoveInfinitelyP “Nonprofit to help fund volunteer-ism globally. A movement to spread love all over the world by letting people use their natural talents to give back”.
    @HRC “The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality”.
    @prof_elemental “An emcee, mad professor, inventor, explorer and exotic dancer”

So what is the (intermediary) conclusion? The total amount of followers does not tell me a lot. Why am I active on Twitter? Not to expose myself to vendors of all kinds. If I am looking for executive coaches or providers of HR Information systems, it is highly unlikely I will use Twitter as a source. For some of them it can help to connect to me, especially if they provide high quality content. The main reasons I am on Twitter (although this is certainly an evolving view) are (1) to connect and interact with people who are active in my area and who can help me to develop and improve our HR practice and (2) to connect and interact with people who are working for or related to ARCADIS, as this gives me the opportunity to get a feeling how we are doing as a company and what we could do better, especially in the area of strategy deployment, people and organization. From this perspective, only a small proportion of my followers are relevant: the followers with whom I am able to connect around relevant subjects, my ARCADIS colleagues and the other people I know, and the service providers who are able to provide high level content (and whom I might be able to influence a little bit…). My guess: around 50 out of the 1082 are relevant. Around 5%.
Will be continued, next part is about: whom am I following and why?

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