Playing the Numbers Game – The Truth About Followers

I write this blog today, after several days of thinking about the twitter perfect world we live in. I follow people who inspire me, uplift me, encourage me, and at the end of the day, will help me if I ask. On the flip side, who is following me? Well in the last two weeks, over 200 new people felt what I had to share was worthy of their time, and for that I am thankful. The realistic part of twitter followers for me is a two part vision. First, new followers in education, become people I in turn follow. So in two weeks, I found 200 new people to learn from. SCORE! The second part, is that those followers can share my ideas with others. How many of us choose to follow someone, simply because we see someone we follow, share them as a resource? I have, many times, and with much success. The best part of new followers is that one day you might get to meet them, and find out just how much you truly have in common.

Rodney Turner is my first example.. After a co-following twitter adventure I finally met him at #iste13. Turns out we actually like each other… 🙂 Also turns out that we really have some things in common with regards to our passion in education. Lastly… I discovered we also have in common a huge need to have the lighting be perfect when taking selfies!




Amanda Dykes is another great follower story I have. When I first started on twitter about 2 1/2 years ago, I was new to the whole game. One of the first people I followed was Amanda. At that time, I assumed it was like the elementary school playground, and if I played nice with you, you would play nice with me. So when Amanda didn’t follow me back immediately, I was unsure why. In time, I found Amanda and I had a few things in common. Our kids are the same ages, we LOVE #shoesinedu, and we had similar ideas about education. So I did the craziest thing… I started sending her tweets. Several tweets… and engaging in conversations made up of 140 characters at a time. Then one day she followed me. Amanda is the reason I am one of the directors of #EdcampATL. She connected me with Nikki Robertson when I announced I was moving to Atlanta last year, and had no #edcamp friends at all. I didn’t meet Amanda until #iste13 – but the connections I made with her long before that day made it seem like a reunion, not an initial meeting at all.



So my final message is this. If you followed new people, engage them in conversation. Share ideas and build relationships. Following alone is just a numbers game… the value is when you reach out, connect, share, and make it a PLN, not just a following. I highly suggest you read Amanda’s blog post about #iste13 in regards to people, and how they are the most important tool in learning. Follow the hyperlink on her name to read that!



5 thoughts on “Playing the Numbers Game – The Truth About Followers

  1. Jaime,
    Couldn’t agree more, ” the value is when you reach out, connect, share, and make it a PLN.”


  2. I know I need to engage more in twitter conversations. I guess I’m more of a blog reader – I like to hear more of the thinking behind the 140-character statements.

    That said, the chats are amazing and I have curated a ton of future lessons in all subject areas. Twitter has so much value.

    Thanks for your post.
    Janet |

  3. What a great post with such an important reminder! I tend to follow any educators that follow me as well as other educators that I come across through Twitter. My problem now is that I follow thousands of people, and it’s hard to engage with everyone. Getting involved in the discussions though is what makes Twitter such a powerful tool!

    I know some teachers at my school that are interested in getting started on Twitter. It doesn’t seem like such a useful tool without these discussions though. How would you suggest that they start reaching out to others? In what way(s) should they reach out? Any additional ideas would be great! Thanks!


  4. Aviva,

    Thanks for your comments. I wish I had started twitter with a better understanding. It is like apps to me… If we are only consuming information, it is truly a valuable tool? I have many I follow that I never started a connection with, and they do not follow me as a result. It is hard not to take that as an insult, assuming if we value them, why would they not value us. I think we have to realize we all come into it with different plans. I, like you, follow those who follow me, if education is at the core of what they do. Then about once a month I go and unfollow all inactive users, or ones I just do not feel are tweeting things I value. My advice to new twitter folk is start very small. Connect first, and not to worry about a number of followers. The numbers mean nothing if you have no connections to go with it. If you shoot for 5-10 to start, it is manageable to connect with them over time. I think too many of us go for following hundreds of people before we understand that we are going about it incorrectly.

  5. You make an important point. I hate the numbers. I don’t automatically follow people back, although maybe I should – I don’t know. I want to make honest and real connections on Twitter. I’m not interested in Twitlebrity (as Pernille coined it), whatever that is. I want to teach well and I want to have professional and personal connections that are meaningful. (I also want to be able to actually read and follow my primary Twitter feed and not resort to lists.) I’m willing to discuss ideas with anyone, and if someone genuinely engages with me, I usually end up not only following them back but also subscribing to their blog. Genuine connections matter; numbers don’t.

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