Blaugust Day 23 – Big Twitter Part Two (Research failed me!)

So, on Friday night I wrote a quick blog post about large-scale Twitter accounts and the amount of work that must go into running one and getting some return from it, especially if you are following thousands of people. I wondered about the tools that must be essential for getting any kind of use of out your timeline, and for filtering the useful replies and notifications out of however many you would be getting every day when you have thousands of followers.

And so, I decided to do a bit of research on this. Surely, I thought, there must be plenty of information out there on something so common? (Note: if this next bit seems a little disjointed, it’s because I’m writing this as I’m finding things out.)

Followers and Following

My first few sets of search terms didn’t actually bring up as much info as I’d hoped, as most of the articles seemed to either be about how to gain Twitter followers, promising to hugely increase my followers count if I used their ten magic steps, or in some cases just offering to sell me followers. Incidentally, I decided to take a sidestep from my original goal and find out what the actual legalities of buying followers (or at least bot accounts created with software that is easily found online.) It turns out that buying followers is completely against Twitter’s terms of service, but also completely legal. Okay, so it’s apparently easy to get followers if so many people claim to be experts at it – how do I do that?

It seems that the easiest way, after making sure that your account looks appealing – good bio, pictures etc., is to follow lots of people, in the hope that most of them will follow you back. This article has some really interesting metrics on the number of people you can follow versus the number of people who follow you – I didn’t realise that you can’t actually follow a very large number of people unless a large number of people are following you. This explains a lot of the accounts I see that have similar large follower and following numbers (they’re nearly always in the 40 thousand region. I have no idea if there’s a reason for that.) It also makes total sense as far as trying to prevent spambots, or those buy-able follower bots, from just following thousands of people constantly.

But what about the tools?

A bit more googling found lists upon lists of Twitter tools, for more tools than I ever thought one would need in order to tweet. Many of them do exactly the same thing as the built in Twitter user interface to the point where I’m sure a third-party tool is an unnecessary faff.

It’s about here where I realised the problem – if there isn’t an obvious twitter tool that helps with this, then people must be doing it all through Twitter itself. A number of the early articles described twitter lists as the main way of separating a timeline out enough to be useful and I sort of dismissed that a little, because it didn’t seem ‘enough’. It seemed too simple. Yet, unless I’ve missed some other obvious solution, it seems that I was right in my initial post about it just being Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, plus a lot of hard work.

I got this far, and wondered if everything I had done on this post up was a bit useless, since I hadn’t found out much at all. But looking at my notes, I had discovered a fair amount of interesting new stuff about Twitter, so I decided this was worth putting up (also, trying not to discard or ‘sit on’ blogposts any more, since it usually means I don’t finish them, plus with eight days left to run in the Blaugust Challenge I’m not sure that I have posts to waste.)

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