Anybody who spent any sort of time yesterday on Twitter knows that it came across a little bit of a snag. As a result of a temporary bug, Twitter users were able to force other users to follow them. Out of this whole debacle, this should've been everyone's biggest issue. Unwanted tweets coming across our stream is a complete invasion of our (dwindling) privacy. Assuming that forced followage (yeah I made that word up) would be the main topic of concern, I was borderline surprised at what everyone's biggest concerns were according to what I observed on my feed: Zero followers.
If anybody was actually paying attention to their timeline's, they would've noticed that nothing was slowing down all that much. I realized that I was still receiving information like normal, except with a goose egg beside my name. Logically looking at the situation, I noticed my follower count was zero, I was still receiving tweets, which meant that my followers were most likely receiving the messages I was sending out as well. I imagine that most clear thinking Twitter users came to the same realization.
So why care about follower count?
It's true that follower count is an indicator of potential of influence (emphasis on potential). However, if we know our intended receivers are getting our messages and we are still able to listen, what does the number have to do with anything? A temporary zero in follower count shouldn't affect how we feel about our own space in the Twitterverse. Are we really that dependent on the warm fuzzies a follower count gives us that we live and die by it? When everything else is working, most of the time, it's just a number. I honestly hardly keep up with my number count anymore, just the people that follow me. I used to live and die by that number myself but eventually learned that engagement with my followers/those I follow is far more important. It's about people to me, not numbers.
Twitter is notorious for bugs and the Fail Whale but I'm going to have to give them props for yesterday. Sure, that bug was a slight embarassment for them but they took the time to fix it rather quickly. I'll have to commend them for not going way too long on correcting the issue.
What's the follower number mean to you?