Twitter Downshifting

Three weeks ago I deleted my first twitter account @edragonu. At that time I had more than 1000 followers and I followed around 800 people. After a few days of silence, I decided to restart my twitter experience, on another account, @dragosroua, which happens to be me real name. I restored the first account but let my followers know that I’m on a new account and invited them to follow me there. During that silence period I learned a lot about how Twitter works and about myself. Here’s what happened.

Real Followers On Twitter

After I announced that I switched accounts, I experienced a flood of new followers on the new account. Those were the real followers, the ones who were listening and had a real interest in follow me. In 2-3 days I went from 0 to 100 followers. And then it slowly started to stop. I have around 1-2 new followers per day right now.

As you can see, the “core” of the followers was less than 10% of my actual numbers. Out of 1000 listed followers, only 100 were actually listening to my tweets and were interested in following me. It’s a little bit sad. And also unexpected. I was convinced that my followers are interested in what I write. At least, I was interested in what people I followed wrote.

Fewer Followers, Better Experience

The feeling I had in the first few days of having only meaningful followers were terrific. And I still experience the same feelings now. I feel relieved, authentic, useful and true. No more dumb numbers chasing, no more empty performance metrics, just authentic interaction.

I used to spend around 2-3 hours each day only in reading my timeline. I had to find ways to filter the content and cut down the noise. Somehow I took for granted that “noise” is something that Twitter has by default and I have to get over it. After I started the new account it was like the noise never existed.

Twitter doesn’t have any associated noise, it’s you who create the noise, by succumbing to the numbers game.

Twitter Numbers Game

One of the worst thing you can do on Twitter is to play the numbers game. Which comes down to accumulate as many followers as you can in the shortest possible timeframe. We still function sometimes on a performance based behavior and tend to define our worth by some external circumstances. Twitter can be a huge deception because it fools your subconscious mind to think that the many followers you have, the many people will actually care about you, or even love you. And that would give you some inner comfort sense.

As my experience shows, this is not even remotely true. If you hunt for numbers, you will get numbers in return, not authentic interaction, not real value, just empty numbers. And that will make your frustration rise in spiral. You will start thinking that you feel like this because you don’t have enough followers, even if you already have more than you can physically handle. And then you’ll start hunting for more, looking for tools to assist you in the process, analyzing more metrics and prepare yourself for an even bigger frustration session.

The Twitter Numbers Game is no joke, is something very serious and with serious consequences. It creates a mindset of “brute force” over a much normal mindset of “nice approach”. You can get a lot of followers and I’m sure those tools can fill your follower box with thousands and thousands of Twitter id’s. But then, what? What’s the purpose of gaining so many followers?

The “nice approach” is different than the numbers game. It states that you can use Twitter in order to share, get informed and find like-minded people. It’s the fulfilling path.

Getting Satisfaction On Twitter

If you get rid of the numbers game you’ll find that Twitter can be very rewarding. If you know that you’re audience (of 30 people, or 300 people, 3000 people) is an authentic audience, you’ll find much easier to interact and create value.

First and foremost, you can get satisfaction on Twitter by sharing. You can share thoughts, quotes, links, own blog posts. You know you’re followers are reading and they are interested in that. You talk with people, not with walls.

Second, you get satisfaction by being authentic. If you’re sad and need to express that, try to do it on Twitter. If you have followers, not numbers, you’ll raise compassion. And I mean real compassion. I know it works like this. If you’re happy, be authentic and share it. Chances are that you will make somebody else happy too. As long as it’s about a human being, of course.

And third, you get satisfaction by allowing yourself not to be a Twitter superstar. In fact, by not being a superstar at all, but being yourself. Superstars can look interesting, they’re having a shiny lifestyle, but a shiny lifestyle doesn’t always guarantee happiness. On the other hand, authenticity, honesty and compassion are good foundation stones for your happiness.


If you’re already a celebrity (a blogging superstar, a web 2.0 person, a movie star or a political person) Twitter will confirm that instantly for you. But if you want to use Twitter to become a celebrity, I’m not sure you’re going to succeed. At least, not that fast. You have to prove that you’re valuable enough and you have to do that by sharing your value and becoming useful. And that takes time, in whatever world are you playing.

Twitter is a terrific amplifier. It’s one of the most interesting phenomenon on the Internet. But it does not have a consciousness of itself. It’s not self-aware. It amplifies what you give to it. If you give to it greed and shallowness it will amplify that and send it back to you in one form of another. If you give to it true value and the will to share, it will multiply that and send it back to you in one form of another.

20 thoughts on “Twitter Downshifting”

  1. The different reactions on how Twitter should be used vary because of the user’s purpose or intent. Way back when the internet began there were tons of people making websites because they had a passion and a message and wanted to connect with others. This is actually how I started on the web too. As soon as it became possible to monetize these sites the focus changed to making websites only for money. The same is going to happen to everything else including Twitter. A large company’s only interest is to make more money.

  2. @dragos
    Thanks for writing this wonderful article it can be applied to almost any social networking site. I learned a long time ago with myspace that the numbers game is not the way. It’s good to be reminded.

    glen graham’s last blog post..Simplify Things For Non Tech Savy Clients

  3. Thanks Dragos, Blip is like everything else you have to understand it I am still not good at djing but I think it is fun to give props and I really enjoy music. Some have really good music that I feel they write and sing themselves. This is what I ultimately look for. I feel I am not a critic. I just like giving nice comments to those for a wonderful job well done. I want to be positive. I don’t work in a cubicle so I don’t know how boring that would be I can just imagine. The co worker thing for twitter is something I will stay away from. I will not use twitter. Family and friends on facebook is more friendly for me. I hope the best for all on twitter. I have seen more than enought there to know I didn’t like it. 🙂

    candlemamma’s last blog post..Unique Giveaway from Unique Women

  4. @steven aitchison he he, I liked the “gigolo” perspective. But even a gigolo likes real persons not bots 😉

    @candlemamma thanks for the comment and welcome here. I tried but I confess I got stuck at some point and never came back 🙂

  5. Thanks for this post. I am wary of twitter. I dj there with blip FM for fun, because I enjoy the music not to get money or anything else. I won’t use twitter much more.
    Thanks the more good honest information about twitter the better. 🙂
    Have a great week end!

    candlemamma’s last blog post..Unique Giveaway from Unique Women

  6. Dragos, great post here and one that has sparked a bit of debate. I must confess to being a twitter gigalo, I only started using it for real a few weeks ago and I have tried to get the ,number of followers up. However having said that, the amount of crap I have to wade through to follow the good people is amazing, and I am sure people say that about my tweets as well.

    There are pluses and minuses but overall I think it’s a good thing you are doing and you are getting a real following and not a fake following.

    ” I’m just a gigalo, and everywhere I go….” 🙂

    steven aitchison’s last blog post..Guided Meditation – Well of The Wyrd

  7. @Jeff thanks for reading my blog and for commenting here. If layout is such a big problem maybe you could read it via RSS? I think it also depends on the display resolution, on my resolution I don’t need to zoom out or anything. Thanks for the feed-back and for the nice words 🙂

  8. Speaking of followers, I have to admit I used to read your blog regularly, but not anymore and it’s all because of this layout, or more likely, this bold font and “in-the-eye” color.

    When I open your blog I have to zoom out the page, fortunately Firefox remembers this (sometimes)

    It’s sad but true…

    Anyway, keep writing, you got the talent! 🙂

  9. @Lance thanks for the nice words, I think we all need a moment in which we have to decide what we really want. Not only form Twitter, but this is a good example; we want quality or quantity. Coz whatever we want, we get 😉

  10. Hi Dragos,

    You bring up some excellent points, and I’m seeing the same thing – I just hadn’t admitted it until now – some people follow just to get their numbers up… Quality over quantity. Great article!

    Lance’s last blog post..Money Does Grow On Trees

  11. @Toma Exactly! If you’re a star, Twitter will confirm and deliver, but trying to become a start using Twitter is not going to work. If you got to be better at something than try blogging, become famous, than open a Twitter account. The followers will actually flood you.

    About the big numbers inertia, i.e. thousands of followers generation extremely low clicks, it’s all part of the big numbers game. It’s only in our heads that 10.000 followers would behave in a standard, predictable way. In fact, you cannot really take into account those huge numbers, the entropy is too big at those levels.

  12. @SidSavara I thought about making my own Twitter app for a while, until I realized the absurdity of the situation: they made something I wanna use but I have to build it myself. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  13. @Marius Twitter can really be whatever you want it to be. I expected it to be more of a channel to me. It can be different for you, you may want only to learn from some people. Whatever your reasons are, I would go for a severe streamlining process of all my followers. It can be overloading. And frustrating.

  14. Hi Dragos,

    I really liked the article. This is the main subject on my latest articles on Twitter : the fact that you are not really followed by all of your followers is no secret. I saw in an article from shoemoney that when he had 10k followers he received only 500 visitors/day from Twitter and when he had 20k followers the number of visitors remained almost the same. I also experienced this with one of my Twitter friends who has about 40k followers : he tweeted something about an article of mine and I got only 50 visits above the average.

    The quality of a network on Twitter I think it stands in the authority of the one that is followed. What I mean is if a nobody in the wold of the Internet, like me, manage to get 10k followers on Twitter and tweet a link I don’t think I’ll get more then 100 clicks. But if Chris Brogan has 5k followers or Gary Vaynerchuk has 5k and they tweet something then they’ll probably get a few hundreds clicks.


    Toma – Optimizing The Web’s last blog post..How to build a strong network on Twitter

  15. I’ve reduced the number I people I follow as well, but there are some people who I feel obligated to follow (old friends, people I support, etc). I check my timeline a few times a day, and if I miss something, so be it. I have a couple accounts for similar reasons, but I wish there was a better solution. I have been working on some code for a twitter noise filter, but it’s never been a high priority so I haven’t finished it =)

  16. I am glad you wrote about this, it’s been cooking in my mind for quite some time. The difference between us is you apply GTD methodology, whereas I don’t . 🙂

    Being one of the old ones on twitter, I felt quite good as the thing grew. But at the same time, I found it more and more irrelevant for myself or for my work. When I look at my current timeline, there’s so much noise that I am almost decide to stop using it. Been thinking of reducing the number of people I follow rather drastically; I’m not in the mood of creating a new account just for that, and I somewhat feel it’s not a good move to block people following me. I don’t really care that they read or not what I “broadcast”. What do you think?

    Marius’s last blog post..Bani din ATM ING Bank

  17. @Rin Tin Tin yeap, maybe. But the vision of everybody on the planet being a blogger in need for traffic is something even scarier 🙂 I do think that on this Earth (Twitter included) you can find some decent people with common interests. With or without a blog.

    BTW: nice to have you back on my commenters squad!


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