Like Me? Follow Me.
If we know that the average person cannot maintain more than 150 relationships at a time, what should we think when we see people with thousands of "friends" on MySpace or Facebook or following thousands of people on Twitter?
Well, two things - either that person is extremely interesting or well known such as Robert Scoble or Jason Calcanis, or they've mass added friends using a script in hopes that a percentage of those people will automatically add them back out of politeness.
The idea behind this school of thought is if you can build up an initial following of friends, if you then post exciting or useful content onto a given social media site, your friends will vote for it and send traffic to your website. It can work - if someone whose MySpace blog or Twitter updates are entertaining suggests you read/vote for an article then you're probably going to be predisposed to do as they ask.
So what are we meant to think when we see a profile like this?
In the three months since this person registered with Twitter he has managed to find 977 people he finds interesting enough to follow. If each of those 977 people update their Twitter feed just once a day that's going to be impossible to follow, so there's no way he's keeping track of 977 people and their conversations.
He's obtained 102 followers back for his efforts, however, which he could use to build online relationships or to generate new readers for his blog or website. He's made very good use of that opportunity by updating a grand total of four times.
So what's the point of this sort of online activity? There isn't one. If you're going to start mass-following people in the hope that they follow you back and you don't follow it up with exciting content or at least some form of engagement with your followers then you're going to be seen as a spammer. Once this happens, if you finally do come back to make use of your account, you'll have an even bigger mountain to climb to build those relationships.