I hate the word "followers"

I've seen way too many tweets that say, "My followers are great!" or "Eager to meet my followers at XYZ conference." I hate these tweets. I hate them a lot.

Interestingly, these aren't from celebs who really do have fans following their every move. I'm talking about regular people. Joe from Milwaukee, Sarah from Portland, Roger from Baton Rouge. People who somehow get an inflated sense of ego from social media.

To me, Twitter is all about connecting with people. The thought leaders in social media get that Twitter is a community and the best way to utilize the platform is to form relationships. Now, if you believe that (which I do), aren't we all equal? If I meet you, and we follow each other, why am I meeting one of my followers? Aren't we just peers connecting with one another?

I guess my issue is that the word "followers" is much too self indulgent. It implies that you are worshipping me, but I'm not worshipping you. That's wrong and that's not what social media is about.

I refrain from using the "F" word. I think it's contrary to what the platform is meant to be. Personally, I'd like to see it wiped out and replaced with the word "connections". After all, aren't we all using these sites to meet other people, learn from them, share our knowledge, and enhance our sense of community? Or, is our real intent to feed our bloated egos and fool ourselves into thinking our "followers" are hanging on our every word?

I never thought I'd quote Mother Teresa on my blog, but these words seem to fit the occasion perfectly: "I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things."

Now, let's start connecting.


  1. Hi Amber:

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I watch my follower number go up and down. At the end of the day, it IS about connecting, having conversations, and the best, learning from others.

    Brilliantly stated. Like, Seth Godin brilliantly stated. I have blog envy. :)


  2. Theresa: Thank you for the nice words. You're too kind.

    I do firmly believe in the connection aspect. My "follower" count would be much higher if I followed back every spammer and self-promoter, but I choose to only follow back real people who understand engagement. My "follower" number is lower because of that, but the people in my network are quality people who get it. I think that's better.

    Meeting YOU is a great example of the power that Twitter has to bring people together! Thanks again for taking the time to leave a comment, Theresa.

  3. I could not agree more! The whole oooh, you #WW'd or send a #follow friday mssg first means I can oh so (sarcasm here) magnanimously 'thank all you little people out there' is just wrong on so many levels. Now I don't know peeps like that, but have seen the tweets that make me certain I do not want to introduce myself:)

    The exercise should provide a level playing field, so whomever dubbed the people checking you out as "followers" really missed the mark.

  4. Mary: I complete agree with you that it should be a level playing field. And that F word is just the worst. I'll cut some slack to the person who came up with it ONLY because Twitter has evolved from its original usage. But, since changes are made to Twitter on a regular basis, I would love it if this term was shown the door.

    Thanks so much for chiming in on the conversation. BTW, I clicked on your name and checked out your blog. Love it. Great stuff!

  5. Beautifully said~!!! I have wanted to write about this, so sharing the blog envy down here - lol

    This might help, I always say "follow friends", because I have the same strong feelings about that word. Maybe it's something about our newspaper backgrounds?

    Of course, Twitter's perspective is different, but it is not against the rules to fully connect, engage and network - YAY~!!!

    Well done, Amber~!!!
    Anita @ModelSupplies

  6. Anita (aka Twitter Queen extraordinaire): Thank you for contributing to the conversation. You are everything that is RIGHT about Twitter. You are a stellar example of how to utilize this powerful tool properly and I couldn't be more thrilled to have connected with such a wonderful person.

    Although I hate the "F" word, I'd follow you anywhere. ;->

  7. Thanks so much for the compliment on my blog=) This is what I love about Twitter - you can just happen upon the nicest people!

    I just noticed you have a talented dog with a blog, so I'm off to check that out - glad we met.

  8. Amber, we have very similar ideas about Twitter!
    In fact, I never realized how cool Twitter could be until I started meeting people and forming actual relationships via Twitter.

    I too, don't automatically friend everyone that friends me. Twitter is definitely a good example of quality over quantity. I'd much rather have 200 friends on twitter that I engage with than 900 that I don't.

    As a matter of fact, I'm very happy WE are friends.

    Thank you!

  9. Tom: I couldn't agree more. I see lots of people who are all about the numbers and have an artificially inflated follower count that, at first glance, SEEMS impressive, but it's made up of spam and non-targeted connections. I'm with you, quality over quantity all the way!

    And, yes, the actual relationships are what makes Twitter my favorite social networking platform. I can't remember how our paths crossed in the Twittersphere, but I'm so glad they did! #TomRules

  10. I love that you said this...something has bothered me about this too. Thank you for giving it a voice.

  11. I hope you will consider it a compliment to what you wrote when I start talking about my "connections."

  12. Thanks, Jennifer. Great minds think alike ;-)

  13. Based on your aptly put post, I'm redoing my Welcome Message even as I type! ;)

  14. The term "followers" has always rubbed me the wrong way. Every time I hear the word, I think of it in a biblical sense as in Jesus Christ and the disciples. I know, weird.

  15. Excellent, Lynette! Talk about putting thoughts into actions!

    Go, go, go! ;-)

  16. Ha ha. It's true, Marianne. In my 7 Twitter Crimes post I did call the people who follow self-proclaimed gurus "disciples". And the way some people refer to "their followers", they kinda act like the Almighty Savior, too! Like every tweet is pure gold. None of us are all that.

    There are just so many other words that put both people on equal terms. That follower stuff is just self absorbed. Hope it changes some day during one of Twitter's many face lifts.

  17. It's amusing you seek to replace Twitter followers with connections, and I seek to replace Facebook friends with connections. See my parallel thoughts: http://ariwriter.com/why-social-media-does-not-bring-us-closer/

  18. Ari, nice to meet 'cha! Yep, I'll buy that. The word "friends" on Facebook is just as inappropriate. Does someone really have 5,000 friends? I think not. Where are all those people when I need to haul a couch up to my third floor apartment??? ;-)

  19. I don't mind the word followers so much when it comes to people that I really don't know and haven't talked to. I DO like the word friends when thinking about the people that I talk to like you :)
    I guess you could call them readers like you would about people who read your blog. It's twitter, I'm not sure how you could replace the word. If you did not like the word driver, could you get the world to start calling them automobile operators?;)

  20. Thanks for stopping by, Dave.

    Hmmm. Instead of automobile operators, I prefer to get the world to start calling them dorsnitterettes. I'm all for the exotic words ;-)

    You game?


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