I recently became the 78,000th follower of an active collecter of Twitter followers. He followed me and I followed back. I would love to think that he is following me based on the informative value of my Tweets. But frankly, there is little chance of his reading my Tweets or him reading mine. This raises the question of whether at this point there contiues to be significant value in collecting a large number of random followers by following them with the knowledge a significant percentage will follow back? Given that only about 1% of this new Twitter connection's 78,000 followers have ever retweeted one of his messages, obviously his Tweets are mostly just digital white noise.
In the early days of Twitter having a large following was beneficial. A goodly percentage of your Tweets were likely to at least be scanned. However, with the passing of time, most active Twitter users have collected an ever growing number of Tweeters they follow. Breaking through the clutter becomes increasingly difficult. Simply having lots of followers is no longer particularly noteworthy. Sure, it provides ego gratification, bragging rights, and the perception of credibility, but the gold standard now is to be included in lots of lists. Being assigned by a Twitter user to a "list", is an indication that they may actually be interested in reading your Tweets.
If you have not done so, it is worthwhile to read Klout's summary of how they measure your online influence based upon Twitter and Facebook activity. It is instructive to read how they attempt to suss out influence as opposed to quantity. If you care to dig deeper, it is also interesting to review the Klout metrics for 21 selected individuals in an article questioning the validity of Klout scores. (OMG! Over a million users have retweeted Justin Bieber's tweets)
I have to plead guilty to being a dilitante at playing the collecting Twitter followers game. I was disdainful for far too long of the value that could be provided by 140 character messages, so am late to the party.
While "playing" at the collecting Twitter followers game is not very beneficial, adding followers can be a productive stategy for a marketer or blogger that works hard at getting value from their Twitter following. It is instructive to compare the Twitter results of power user Ana Hoffman versus mine. As the Klout scores shown below indicate, Ana has been retweeted by 1,275 of her followers. Her ratio of being retweeted by 23% of her followers dwarfs my measly 4% ratio from a much smaller base. More importantly, 8% of the traffic to her blog is referred by Twitter
It is easy to get seduced into playing the game of collecting Twitter followers. Sure, there is ego gratification, bragging rights, and the perception of credibility from building your list of Twitter followers. but not much tangible value. Twitter offers a classic example of quality trumping quantity. It can be a highly productive marketing and networking tool, but only if you put a serious effort into making it so.