Twitter’s magic number

twitter follower wordcloud

wordcloud of the twitter bios for people I’m following

Last night, as I was surfing the stream of consciousness that is my Twitter feed, I stumbled across a problem.
I’d seen someone I wanted to follow, but got a message telling me that I couldn’t follow them. I tried again, with the same error.

I had a poke around, and realised that I was following 2,000 people. Once I’d recovered from the size of the number, this rang a bell – wasn’t there some kind of limit?

Ah, yes. Twitter says:

Every account can follow 2,000 users total.
Once you’ve followed 2,000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow. This number is different for each account and is based on your ratio of followers to following; this ratio is not published. Follow limits cannot be lifted by Twitter and everyone is subject to limits, even high profile and API accounts.

I’m quite careful who I follow – I don’t randomly follow people back just because they add me. I know some people do this, and treat Twitter as a numbers game. This baffles me, but that’s a topic for another day.

I have a look through recent tweets and see if they post interesting stuff. I’m a listener – I follow interesting people, without necessarily expecting (or needing) them to follow me back. I’m quite sure there are some defunct accounts in there. but who has the time to weed out unused accounts?

For me, there are a couple of categories of people on Twitter that I follow:
People I know, either in real-life, or via interacting online. A lot of local Leeds/Yorkshire-based folks

Now, I can realistically expect that the first group may well want to follow me back. I interact with a fair number of them on a daily basis and have made some good friends online via Twitter.

Same with the second group – small local indie places build up a following and again, interact with their customers. My day wouldn’t be complete without seeing what the coffee guys are up to.

The third and fourth groups though? They’re the broadcasters, spreading a message. They’re not (usually) interested in following, and there’s no particularly compelling reason for them to do so – they’ll see any  @-replies mentioning them and can interact with their fanbase without following individual users.

There are some exceptions, obviously. I’ve chatted with a few of my favourite authors via Twitter and some do follow back. Others purely use twitter as a broadcast medium (which is fine) and don’t respond or interact at all.

Anyway, I digress (slightly). Twitter has some advice on what to do if you’ve hit a follow limit:

If you’ve reached the account-based follow limit (2,000 users), you’ll need to wait until you yourself have more followers before you can follow additional users.

That’s not really helpful though, is it? At time of writing, I’m being followed by about 1,390 twitter users. Now, I’m not sure what the magic ratio is to be allowed to follow more people, but say, for example, if I hit 1,500 followers, I can follow a few more people.

For that to happen, I’d need to get another 110 people following me, and this is the crucial bit, without me being able to follow them back, should I wish to do so...

What are my options?

  • Have a cull of people I follow.
  • Suddenly become really really interesting and magically get more followers.

I’ve had a go a the first one using one of the plethora of twitter ‘unfollower’ tools (I tried ManageFlitter) and trimmed off about 100 accounts. But I’m sure I’ll hit the magic 2,000 limit again before too long and I’m back in the same boat. And, as I said earlier – I’m following these people and companies because I’m interested in what they have to say.

So, Twitter. Sort it out. Do you really need a limit on the number of people someone can follow?

I’m @dakegra on twitter. Feel free to follow. 🙂

Author: dave

writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, bookworm and stationery geek. Doing fun things with digital.

5 thoughts on “Twitter’s magic number”

  1. Seriously, dude, I was following 26 accounts and had to unfollow one because I didn’t need 45 tweets a day from them. ..okay, it was a newspaper, and I suppose they’re entitled, but I have unfollowed people for tweeting too @$#*%*ing much. How you follow 2000 people is really beyond me. And I say this, of course, with love.

    1. They’re interesting people! Either locals/friends, or businesses that I’m interested in following. Bikes, books, coffee etc. I reckon out of the 2,000 there’s maybe 3-400 who actively post, and maybe a hardcore of… fifty? who post more than once daily. Lists are also useful – I’ve got a list of the couple of dozen people who I *really* want to keep up with, including your good self – people whose tweets would otherwise get lost in the stream.

      And for me it is a stream – you can dip in and float along for a bit, or jump out when you need to. Twitter, for me, really is one of those things where you get out what you put in. As you’ve undoubtably noticed, I’m a pretty frequent poster, but you may not have seen that I spend a lot of my tweets on replies to others.

      1. Well maybe the problem is that I’m prone to anxiety. I get anxious when I feel I’m not “keeping up”, especially with what you refer to as “that list of people I really want to keep up with”. This is also why I’m averse to this Postcrossing that everyone so adores. I don’t even begin to manage the correspondence I want to, and should have, with my friends, why on earth would I burden myself with an obligation to send things to total strangers?! I might need to relax. Maybe some tea. I believe the technical quantity is “a spot”, is it not? Seriously, some chamomile. With a valerian chaser. p.s. Thank you for having me on your list, you are most assuredly on mine.

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