The Road To 1,200,000 Followers On Twitter

I’m on a mission. And that mission is for 1,200,000 twitter users to follow me.

There’s no logical reason for my desire to attain this goal. I’m not representing a charity or any other philanthropic organization nor am I doing this as part of a sponsored social media campaign. I’m not a celebrity, nor am I an A-List blogger. And I’m not giving away free burgers.

Though I should. Seriously I make a rad burger. The key is feta cheese…

Anyway, I’m not going to lie, this is 100% ego driven. But not for the reasons you think. See, I want to prove to the Gaga’s, Shaq’s, Ashton’s and Diddy’s that the attention economy and subsequently the commodity of followers they’ve accrued is, pardon my language, completely fucked. It’s as FUBAR and disposable as MySpace friends were in the earlier half of the decade – seems we can’t seem to learn from history when it repeats itself.

This has a ton to do with Metcalfe’s Law, but not for the virtuous reasons many a social media “guru” proclaim from the mountain tops of…wherever they proclaim things.

Let me explain, and why yes, I’m dropping mad theory on your asses. To continue…

The concept of Metcalfe’s law in my simpleton of opinions, is completely wrong when it’s applied not to expansion, but the value of twitter. Metcalfe’s Law states that the value of a network is affected by the number of nodes it has – the more users a network has, the more connections are created by each new user. But connections do not equate value. In fact as Metcalfe’s Law in my opinion, is detrimental to the entire premise of Twitter as a 1 to Some communications platform. The more attention I receive, the less time I have to engage. Are you following me?

As a broadcast platform it succeeds, albeit temporarily but I’m convinced, as my network continues to grow disproportionately that I’ll have no choice but to begin adding node:node and that’s when I’ll eventually lose control, along with any meaningful conversations I’ve had via my network.

I’ll concede of course that twitter has made it easier to stay organized. I can set up lists, or use Tweetdeck to filter through relevant topics of conversation, but ultimately, the unfiltered, surprising river of conversation that continues to excite me when I fire up twitter every morning will become so volatile, with a velocity in ever changing topics of conversation that I’ll forever be playing catch up to the conversations I’d like to be having.

And that my friends is a lot of conversation.

So to recap, I believe that size of network has little to do with its strength and I’m willing to bastardize my life on twitter to prove it. As of the time I began this social experiment I’m at 1,231 followers and I am following 71 people. This is roughly a 17:1 ratio. I believe that as the ratio continues to grow, I’ll have less control of conversations via my followers, those who I’m following, and myself.

I have a long ways to go to 1,200,000, so maybe you can help?

I’m @cdny on twitter. Feel free to follow me and I’ll probably follow you back.

P.S. This may all be a pointless diatribe which if you fall into the category of those who think so, I apologize and offer two great blog posts on Twitter and followers. First there’s Alex Schleber’s and next there’s Mathew Ingram’s brilliant post on Dunbar numbers.

P.S.S. I found the image I used for this post via Google images. The illustrator is super talented and you should check out his stuff.


  1. David Cushman · December 15, 2009

    Metcalfe's Law refers to one-to-one networks. I think the one you are after is Reed's Law (Group Forming Network Theory) which is for many-to-many networks (particularly large groups) and much more applicable to twitter. The equation involves 2n (one extra node on the network doubles its value).

  2. Craig Daitch · December 15, 2009

    Thanks for the clarification David!

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