You’ve almost undoubtedly seen this bad-grammar appeal for more followers (I never took the time to figure out which website tweets this for you). Everyone wants more followers and people often resort to gimmicks to get them, such as creating follow-back retweets and lots of other time-wasters.

In this article, I’m going to explain why this is missing the forest for the trees-and where you should focus your attention instead.

While some people go to great lengths-spending considerable time and money to gain followers on Twitter (as well as Facebook) – I would argue that they’re missing the point. Yes, you want a large follower count, but I prefer to see it as a means to an end. There’s a weak correlation between your following and your profitability, but there’s a much stronger one for your profitability and several other measures. And it’s no coincidence that each of these metrics measures your level of engagement in one way or another. After all, it’s only when people are paying attention to you that they can become your customers. So what are these 3 metrics?

Number of Lists You Appear On

This number is far from foolproof, but getting “listed” is an indication that someone cares what you have to say-at least in theory. Typically when someone lists you, it’s because they want to be able to find you efficiently amongst all the tweets that would otherwise appear on the homepage. The problem with this, however, is that there’s no guarantee they’re actually looking at the list they’ve placed you on. Despite my best intentions, I have several lists that I rarely look at even though I’m interested in what these people have to say. And that’s unfortunately (in my opinion) a problem with Twitter in general-it doesn’t use a system similar to EdgeRank to make it easier to find interesting tweets.

To find out how many lists you appear on, log into Tweetdeck and click on your name anywhere you see it mentioned. This used to appear directly on your Twitter profile but no longer does.

Your Klout Score

Klout is a service that measures your social influence. In my opinion, it’s unfairly vilified by people who expect such web apps to somehow be flawless. Klout has a very difficult service to provide-and given the number-crunching that goes into calculating a Klout score, I think they’re doing a pretty good job of it.

Your Klout score is an arbitrary rating from 0 to 100 that measures how much attention people pay to you through social media. Receiving retweets, ‘Likes’ on Facebook, or having a lot of followers are all things that increase your Klout score.

“But wait,” I’ve heard more than one person say, “just because I retweet someone it doesn’t mean they influence me. Just because Justin Bieber has a Klout score of 92 it doesn’t mean I’d jump off a bridge if he told me to. So who are they to measure someone’s ‘influence?’”


Klout currently works as a measure of who’s “hot” on social media (although they’re trying to integrate real-world data as well). If you use your score to track your progress over time, and learn who the influencers are in your niche, then you’ll understand the utility of Klout and why it’s more important than your follower count. I check my score regularly, simply to ensure that it’s always increasing.

Number of Retweets

Like the previous numbers, the number of retweets you receive is far from a foolproof metric. If you simply tweet inane quotes all day, you might get 30-50 retweets per post. Obviously that doesn’t mean it’s going to make you any money.

But retweets are much more useful than follower count for measuring your engagement. And this number will vary by industry; my social media marketing account only gets a handful of retweets per post (a lot of web-savvy users are competing with me), but my psychology and wellness account, with a comparable number of followers, gets dozens.

Like your Klout score, you should monitor this over time to ensure it’s continually increasing. But unlike your Klout score, you can use this data to arrive at actionable conclusions. If certain topics get a lot of retweets for you, it means those topics resonate with your audience and they want more of that type of content. If something doesn’t get a lot of retweets, it means your followers didn’t find it useful or you posted it at a bad time.

Avoid Instant Gratification

Your follower count provides instant gratification and it’s a number that’s immediately presented to you when you log into Twitter. Even I admittedly care about it, but I use it as a barometer and pay more attention to the numbers described above. I realize that with large follower counts comes a lot of fake and inactive users, but by measuring my true engagement, I learn what’s working for me and what isn’t-which allows me to continue growing my “influence” over time.