I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions but around Christmas last year I decided I wanted to make a greater effort with Twittercism in 2011.

In short, I wanted to:

  • Publish at least one blog post every single day
  • Re-focus my personal Twitter account (@Sheamus) so it’s more about Twitter and social media in general

Previously on Twitter I would share interesting links throughout the day – these could be about anything. The only real criteria was that my followers would find the content of interest. This output peaked in May 2009 at 2,831 tweets for the month, or a somewhat heady 91 per day.

Madness. I got a lot of retweets, but ultimately one has to ask: to what end?

I’d already slowed this down in 2010 to about 30 per day (on average), but this still felt like too much. My follower count on Twitter was stuck at about 4,750 for months. I felt like it was never going to go much above that – any time it tried, it quickly returned to this equilibrium. Essentially, Twitter was telling me this is who I was.

Last month I published just 164 tweets, or 5.29 per day.

This happened almost by accident. Yes, I’d made the conscious decision to cut down, but by re-aligning my focus onto just a few specific topics (as opposed to anything that I thought my followers might find interesting) some important things happened:

  1. My daily tweet average dropped significantly
  2. My follower count rose considerably
  3. I suddenly had a lot more free time… to write about Twitter (plus some other less important things, like spending time with family, work, sleeping etc)

Take a look at this chart:

After being stuck in a follower rut for what felt like forever, my numbers suddenly started to rise. And kept on going – I’ve gained over 200 followers in about four weeks. Of course, this is too early to tell if it’s the beginning of a new trend that will continue indefinitely, but it’s made such an immediate difference that it’s definitely worth observing.

Other factors have helped as well – blogging daily has definitely made a difference. And because I’m tweeting less any links I share hang around longer, which means they’re more likely to be seen (and not eclipsed by the next link). Moreover, links I share back to this blog (which I do twice a day) also benefited from this considerably – Twittercism.com pageviews were up over 50% in January.

Whatever works for you, works for you. This works for me, and if you’re looking to add followers or improve your social standing on Twitter, cutting back and/or re-focusing might be exactly what your profile needs. At the very least it’s worth a bit of experimentation. There’s a magic number out there for everybody – you just have to find it.