Why 100 True Followers Is Really All You Need

Back in 2008 Kevin Kelly wrote an article suggesting that “an artist only needs 1000 true fans to make a living”.

That article generated quite a buzz and was translated to nine other languages.

Well, it?s 2015 and I?d like to revisit that piece.

In fact I want to apply Kevin?s concept to your social media following and explain you why I think that 100 true Twitter followers is really all you need.

True Followers

A ?true follower? is someone who will eagerly do any of these little favours you may ask for on Twitter:

  • He will check every link that you tweet;
  • He will tweet every article you publish;
  • He will retweet your message whenever you ask for it;
  • He will reply to your tweets;
  • He will upvote your articles on community sites, etc.

So how many of your Twitter followers are the “true” ones?

On average less than 1% of your followers will click on the links that you tweet. And this number gets even worse as your following grows:

Twitter-CTR-Chart

Let?s look at some real examples.

Mari Smith has 345K followers on Twitter and since she?s tweeting a lot of Bit.ly links, we can easily check how much clicks does she get.

Just take any of her bit.ly links and add a ?+? sybmol at the end.
Like this: https://bitly.com/1CO7BVf+

bitly-clicks-mari-smith

I?ve checked just a few of her links and they got anywhere from 30 to 130 clicks, which means her CTR is around 0,03%.

Now if you look at my own stats, I?m getting 0 to 5 clicks on my Bit.ly links while having 2500 followers, which means my CTR is around 0.2%:

tim-soulo-bitlinks

These numbers are of course very rough, but you get the idea.

Why You Only Need 100 True Followers

Most people want to grow their Twitter following, because they think this is what brings them traffic from Twitter.

I’ve busted this myth a lot of times.

(And Mari Smith with 345k followers and 130 clicks on her link is one of these arguments that you cannot beat.)

[tweet_box]Your tweets don’t bring you traffic. Tweets from hundreds of other people do.[/tweet_box]

So why would you need those 100 true followers anyways?

1. Social Proof

Having 100 true followers means that every article on your blog is guaranteed to get 100 tweets.

The fact that a hundred people have tweeted your article gives you a ton of credibility points in the eyes of the rest of you visitors.

And besides, a person will be more likely to tweet your article when he sees that a hundred other people already did that (this is called Prosocial Behaviour).

Take a look at the blog of SocialMediaExaminer:

sme-lots-of-tweets

Any article on their blog will get 1000+ tweets within 10 minutes from being published. That’s because they have a ton of ?true followers?, who are automatically tweeting their posts using services like TwitterFeed.

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2. Traffic

So all of your 100 true followers just tweeted your article. How many new visits will this bring you?

Even if each of their tweets will get a single click – that’s a hundred new visitors to your blog!

Lets take look at people who tweeted this great article at BoostBlogTraffic: https://bitly.com/1D5Y777+

article-bitly-clicks

It might seem like guys from Buffer account for most of the clicks, but that’s until you look at the sentence where my red arrow is pointing:

“There are 1829 more Bitlinks to this content that received 1319 clicks.”

Meaning that 60% of all clicks to this article came from ordinary people tweeting it.

And I believe a fair amount of these “ordinary people” were the “true fans” of Buffer.

3. Small Favours

After submitting my Strategic Writing Guide to Inbound.org I immediately asked my Twitter followers to help me get upvotes.

And there was one guy who retweeted my every single help request.

His name is Daniel Pi?ero and the reason he was so supportive is because earlier he reached out to me with a few questions about blogging and I did my best to help him out.

That?s when I thought I wish I had more people like Daniel following me on Twitter.

All I needed to get to the front page of Inbound.org was 5 votes.

And while I was having 2500 followers on Twitter, I didn?t have even 5 ?true followers? among them.

4. Lesser Followers

There’s no way of attracting a hundred true followers without gaining a few thousands of lesser followers along the way.

Every little thing that you do to gain and maintain the interest of your true followers will help you attract more and more lesser followers.

Here’s how Kevin puts it:

This small circle of diehard fans, which can provide you with a living, is surrounded by concentric circles of Lesser Fans. These folks will not purchase everything you do, and may not seek out direct contact, but they will buy much of what you produce.

The processes you develop to feed your True Fans will also nurture Lesser Fans. As you acquire new True Fans, you can also add many more Lesser Fans. If you keep going, you may indeed end up with millions of fans and reach a hit.

Focus On Your True Followers

One hundred ?true followers? seems totally doable. Especially when you already have a couple thousands ?lesser followers?.

Making a person interested in you is fairly easy – I get a dozen genuine followers every time I write a guest article. The hard part is maintaining their interest with time.

I guess that?s the answer to the question why Rand Fishkin is so picky about his social sharing.

So maybe you should quit focusing on the amount of your followers and start thinking of the ways you can take your relationship with them to the next level?

I guess I?m not in a position to talk about ways of turning ?lesser followers? into the ?true? ones because I don?t have many.

But one thing I know for sure is that a personal connection is an absolute requirement.

So what do you think about the concept of ?100 true followers??

How many ?true followers? do you think you have?

Tim Soulo is the Chief Marketing Officer and Product Advisor at Ahrefs, a leading tool trusted by hundreds of thousands of SEOs and marketers worldwide. His SEO-related data research studies have been cited by media giants, including Inc, TechCrunch, and VentureBeat. He's also a regular speaker at some of the largest industry conferences around the globe, such as PubCon (US), BrightonSEO (UK), and the Digital Marketers Australia Conference (AU).