While individuals will likely make up the majority of the people you follow, there’s also value in following accounts run by companies, organizations, and news outlets.
Following companies. Follow brands and products you admire to stay aware of what they’re doing, get inspired to think bigger about your own work, learn more about their company culture, or find out when they’re hiring. If they provide a service you use, you can also stay up to date with new releases or changes, and even ask questions in your Tweets about specific product features, tagging the company for a response. While you can also follow competitors, it’s best to use a private list for this purpose. Remember that companies use Twitter to sell and convey a positive image of their company. A company’s Twitter account is a highlight reel and most often won’t disclose negative aspects about the company.
It’s always a great idea to follow companies you might be interested in working for (and some of the people who already work for them); we’ll talk about that more in Finding Professional Opportunities.
Following organizations or projects. A little different from companies, these accounts may be non-profit entities, professional associations, or represent projects or social movements. These accounts will often give you insights into areas you’re interested in professionally or personally.
Venkatesh Rao’s (@vgr) account for his newsletter, The Art of the Gig (@artofgig), shares helpful advice for independent consultants.
80,000 Hours (@80000Hours), a non-profit organization researching the world’s most important problems, and encouraging people to address these problems through their careers, shares their content and tangential research.
Following news outlets. Following publications like The New York Times or The Atlantic can free you from subscribing to their newsletter and overloading your inbox. You can find interesting stories that pop up in your timeline and save them for later reading. This can also be a good way to find content you can share on Twitter or retweet with added insights. Unfortunately, following news outlets also comes with the risk of having your timeline filled with a lot of gloomy news about the world. Consider if this is the space where you want to learn about or engage with breaking news and politics.
What’s the Magic Number?
Following too few people can reinforce a narrow point of view and keep you stuck in a monoculture. Too many people can have the same result, in which you only see a handful of those people based on engagement. Following over a 1,000 people likely means you’re missing much of the activity on your timeline.
There’s little consensus about exactly how many people you should follow. Much of the advice surrounding follower counts is related to brand and company accounts or influencers, and not particularly relevant for regular individuals.
However, there is consensus about ideal following ratio. It’s desirable to have more followers than people you follow. This is a positive ratio. The larger the ratio, the better. This serves as a signal that many people are interested in hearing from you and you’re worth following.
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