Jeffrey Weiss used to cover religion for the Morning News until they killed that beat. Now he covers regional education issues. He has been a reporter for more than three decades. And he needs your help. On Tuesday, here’s what he wrote on Facebook:
I’m shamelessly trolling here for Twitter followers. The DMN has set a goal of 1K per person. I’m not there. I like FB a lot better than Twitter. But when the company sets a goal, to hear is to obey. I’m a sporadic Tweeter. I don’t post much just to kibbitz. Curated, if you will. So I won’t fill up your Tweet stream. If you have a mind, I’m at @jeffreyweissdmn
As of this morning at 9:52, Weiss had only 808 followers. Please, people, if you can find it in your hearts to follow him, it sure would help. Thank you. Also, Tod Robberson has only 724. He could use a little love. Oh, and James Ragland has 307.
UPDATE (11:28) Someone at the paper just passed me an interesting Twitter memo that was sent to DMN staff. It was sent Tuesday by Michael Landauer, whose title is digital communities manager:
This is a specific bit of Twitter advice just for you … and me.
I ran an analysis of our staff on Twitter and found that a lot of us with fewer than 1,000 followers are in the same boat. We follow fewer people than we probably should. In fact, 34 of us, myself included, fall into this category.
Some folks say that a ratio of around 1 or 1.5 of Followers to Following is optimal. We’re all above that level. Take me, for example. I have a ratio of 2.0. Put another way, I have two followers for every person I follow on Twitter.
That could mean that I am “very popular” on Twitter, but I’m not. I only have 510 followers.
So two questions:
1. What if I don’t WANT to follow more people?
2. How would it help if I did?
1. I don’t want to be flooded with lots of stuff I don’t care about. OK. Then I need to get smarter about making lists based on my interests to make Twitter more manageable for me as a reader. I’ve done that. I’ve put people in a private “fun” list that only I can see, and I click on it when I want to see stuff from the Onion and Clickhole. I’ve also made a list for work-related stuff from accounts like Facebook (yes, I follow Facebook on Twitter) and others of that ilk. If I am organized it won’t seem so bad.
2. The more people I see and engage with, the more people will follow me, too. It’s really that simple. And don’t forget the instant follow-back habit/program that some people have in place. In fact, there may be no more direct way to grow your following than following more people — unless your ratio falls below 1. Then you start to look like a lurker.
When we all get over 1,000 followers — and we will — then we can let that ratio creep back up to 2 or higher. Dave Lieber’s ratio is 3.5 and that works for him.
Now, if you want to know whom to follow, and you want to look beyond the “Discover” section, let us know. We can help. Here’s what we’d do: You give us a couple names of people you’d like to model on Twitter, and we’ll give you a list of their most influential followers. Just reply to this email if you want to do that. Otherwise, don’t hold back … start following more folks today.
In addition to that memo, I’ve seen another one, sent from someone else at the paper. It listed staffers who were approaching 1,000 followers on Twitter and encouraged employees to follow them and get them to the magic number. Because, um, well — honestly, I don’t understand what is happening here. If Leslie Barker Garcia has 979 followers (and is so close she can taste it), how does it help the paper if 21 of her coworkers start following her? And then telling reporters to follow more people so they can get follow-backs? Is this what passes for digital strategy at the paper? When will the Instagram memo be sent?
Listen, though. I do want to help. Everyone at the paper should read this Atlantic story about how lousy Twitter is at driving traffic to a media outlet. Facebook is far more efficient. So everyone in the newsroom should follow each other. Sure. I guess. But don’t forget to link your Twitter account to your Facebook page so that when you share a link on the former, it pushes to the latter, too. You’re welcome, guys. Good luck to us all as we try to figure out this brave new world.