When you look across the Twittersphere you will see that some organizations have thousands, even millions of followers. There is a correlation between the number of tweets you have tweeted and the number of followers you have. This makes sense because it takes time to build a following.
In a survey of 168 twitter users who are charities funded or soon to be funded by The GoodCoin Foundation we found that half of them tweet each day. Three quarters of them are tweeting at least every week. That means it is going to take time for you to build a following. Most organizations are only tweeting one or twice on the days they are active on Twitter. Do not overwhelm your followers.
But before you start pounding away on Twitter, as yourself “How many followers is enough?”
Twitter is a great tool for staying in touch. You can monitor the thoughts and mental state of dozens of people, hundreds of potential supporters, or literally thousands of voices from across the globe. Frankly, the broader your reach the less you can listen. At some point you simply start skimming.
So more followers is not necessarily better. It depends on what you want to accomplish. But if you are asking “is it worth it” here are some benchmarks.
First you have to decide what kind of tweeter are you. Are you reaching out to employees and volunteers and providing them with inside information and updates on each other? Are you listening to them and sending them direct messages of encouragement or empathy? If so, let’s call that a Family tweeter.
Are you tweeting about organizational events, fundraisers, friendraisers, success stories, and staff goings on? Are you combing the network or your followers for interesting posts you can retweet? If so, you are a Friends tweeter.
And finally, are you a Community tweeter, almost like a radio or TV station that broadcasts the news. Do you make the news and focus attention solely on your cause or related issues?
As you can see each of these have different standards of success.
If you are just starting out it will take you at least 100 tweets (they can be original text and images or they can be retweets of the tweets of others) before you can really judge if you are attracting a following. The GoodCoin Foundation grantees that are just starting out have only a hundred or so followers at this stage. In fact, you are doing great if you have only 100 followers after 500 tweets. Some organizations follow hundreds of others in an attempt to get them to follow back. This builds follower numbers quickly but you create a strange audience. They are not your friends, family, or even your community. Your twitter feed will be filled with news you can’t use. It might boost your ego but it will not boost your core following.
So go easy on yourself. Watch what the leading organizations in each of these categories do. For example:
FAMILY: Are your twitter followers employees and volunteers you want to mobilize in the case of a crisis (funding shortfall, wildfire, pending vote on legislation) AND you want to encourage and motivate them to stay in touch? Check out:
FRIENDS: Are your twitter followers supporters you want to keep informed about events and news, a kind of insider’s view of your organization but for the general public AND you want to comb their network for ideas and opinions? Have a look at:
COMMUNITY: Are your twitter followers the entire community and you want to keep them up on the news in your area much like a radio or TV station AND you are not really looking for their ideas or opinions? Look at these two:
Twitter can be a great tool if you are tweeting to FAMILY and have only 200 followers, provided they are the right 200 and your tweets provide a kind of intimacy not found elsewhere in social media.
If you are tweeting to FRIENDS you should have 2,000 followers and to COMMUNITY upwards of 5,000 or even 10,000 would be considered successful.
So, 1) be patient, 2) build the right audience, 3) be authentic to your organization and mission.