When we're discussing success on social media—specifically Twitter—the first question people ask is, "How many followers do you have?" And although having a ton of followers can make you feel successful and valued within your community, it is not an accurate measure of success on the platform. So what is?
What are some common goals for Twitter users? Many are selling products (e.g. books) or services. Others are building a readership before being published. And many are simply looking for support and a community of likeminded folks.
Individuals pursuing any of these goals should value engagement over followers.
Would you rather have a hundred followers who never read your posts, never retweet, and never reply to you, or would you prefer to have ten followers who do those things? I'm going to choose the ten engaged followers every time. Because guess what? Those followers are the ones who are going to purchase your books and services. They're going to read your work. They're going to send you funny gifs when you're having a tough writing day, and they're going to celebrate with you when you have a major success. That is who I want in my corner.
Unfollows can sting. It feels like the person is saying, "I thought you'd be interesting, but you didn't live up to expectations."
That is the wrong way to look at it.
Think about this in terms of email lists. When maintaining email lists, we periodically scrub emails that receive no opens or clicks. We don't want to send emails to addresses of people who are not engaging with our content. Unfollows on Twitter are like an automatic scrubbing process. When people unfollow, you're clearing your list of folks who aren't interested. And that's okay! Because they're not important to your community. (And let's be honest, half of them are bots.)
Victoria Griffin is an author and editor based in East Tennessee. She provides developmental and line editing for traditionally and independently publishing authors. Her short fiction has appeared in more than 40 publications, and she is represented by Sandy Lu of L. Perkins Agency.
She is the author of the workbooks Edit Like a Pro and Craft Your Query. She is also the owner of Blue Pen Publishing Services, which provides book design and branding services for independent authors. Email Victoria.