Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Has 8,000 Twitter Followers. And?

Screen shot 2009-09-25 at 12.12.16 PMToday Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, our favorite Twitter political celebrity and Senate candidate who DM Failed his Senate campaign announcement, made another announcement on Twitter (at the same time calling all of us “Twitophiles”) I just had to share with you – yes, (gasp!) he has more than 8,000 Twitter followers.  That’s right my friends – the candidate set to take on Senator Bob Bennett for his Senate seat is “Taking Back America” one Twitter follower at a time until he’s taken them all and he owns Utah on Twitter.  Or is he?

Let’s look at his follower numbers – there’s something fishy here.  While he has 8,063 followers, he’s following 8,743.  From my experience of running an auto-follow service (which he’s not using – buy Utah!), generally when the numbers of people you are following is higher than those that are following you, it generally means a) you are running an auto-follow tool, and b) probably about half of those followers are spam bots, porn accounts, and not even real people.  And sure enough, going through his list of followers I’m seeing names like “PronDb”, “InstantBizHelp”, “QuitYourJob2Day”, and “PokerSSpace”.  Let’s just assume those are real people with real interest in him though.

Assuming all those followers are real, how many are actually listening to him?  How many of them are using “search for followers” services like Twollo and just followed him because they have it set to automatically follow anybody that says “Utah”?  Here’s my point: Twitter follower numbers mean nothing and I certainly hope someone doesn’t win a political campaign because they have more Twitter followers than their other opponents.  As I’ve said before, having a large following on Twitter only means you have to shout louder for everyone to hear.

Rather than focusing on followers, Mr. Shurtleff should instead be focusing on engaging each of his followers – building relationships with them.  Twitter’s a very difficult place to do that.  He could be setting up forums on Facebook where he actively participates and engages his audience in discussion.  He could be blogging, and interacting with his readers in the comments.  He could be responding, in short form on Twitter, while not as effective, to those responding to him on Twitter.  He could be over here, engaging with us in the comments of this blog and other Utah-based blogs.  Looking over his Tweet stream I see a lot of “talking at me”.  Instead he should be “talking with me” – this is a 2-way conversation Mr. Shurtleff, and the fact that you’re bragging about your Twitter followers as a political crutch against your opponents shows to me that you, possibly more than them, still don’t understand these tools.

Based on the way he’s using these tools, I would find it very hard to believe that even a majority of his audience is actually listening to Mark Shurtleff.  Post a link in your Twitter profile through bit.ly – I think you’d be very surprised how many people of those 8,000 actually click on that link.  Now go over to your blog and post that same link.  I think you’ll see a much greater response.  Twitter has its purpose, but I’m afraid Mark Shurtleff seems clueless when it comes to Social Media.  Of course, it should be noted that his opponent only has 7 Tweets referencing himself in the third person with only 101 followers.  Maybe Utah politicians are just clueless – I’ll vote for that.

Editor’s Note: I neither endorse, nor am I against Mark Shurtleff. Heck, I may even vote for him – I post this only hoping to educate Utah politicians and others in whatever manner possible – this is embarrassing!

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