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Because both Facebook and Twitter keep a tally of who follows us we tend be a little preoccupied with these numbers. Add to that services like Klout and the preoccupation can easily border on the obsessive. On Saturday I read an article on Forbes called “Fakes & Hacks on Twitter” which was about an app which analyses your Twitter followers and tells you who of them are either fake or inactive. It revealed that some of the biggest names on Twitter (Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber & Ashton Kutcher) have rather large numbers of fake and inactive followers – like 70-85%!

Over the last few days my Twitter feed has had a number of tweets from people who have used the app to analyse their following so it got me thinking about how our local Twitterati stack up in terms of the numbers.

Of course I started with my own followers and was pleased to find that 78% of those are “good” but in the general scheme of things I don’t have a large following so the next logical step was to check out the others…

Let’s start with some of our big names in entertainment. Gareth Cliff has one of the largest Twitter followings in South Africa over 326000. Of these 29% are fake and 45% are inactive leaving him with only 26% of those followers as “good”. He is in good company. Lady Gaga’s figures are pretty similar at 30% good. Following is a snapshot of some of the big names on Twitter.  It is by no means exhaustive.

Trevor Noah – 460K followers – 26% fake – 46% inactive – 28% good

DJ Fresh – 250K followers – 29% fake – 44% inactive – 27% good

Khanyi Mbau – 44K followers – 33 fake – 51% inactive – 16% good

Anele Mdoda – 76K followers – 20% fake – 30% inactive – 30% good

Karen Zoid – 17K followers – 22% fake – 43% inactive – 35% good

Danny K – 5K followers – 9% fake – 35% inactive – 36% good

Nonhle Thema – 135K followers – 27% fake – 48% inactive – 25% good

And so it goes. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the higher the profile of your account and the greater the number of followers the lower the percentage of “good” followers. There has been controversy surrounding paid tweets by people with a large Twitter following. After all there is value in Gareth Cliff or Trevor Noah mentioning your product to their massive following.  But it is worth knowing that only around a quarter to a third of those can potentially be reached. And of that only a portion will see the tweet – because we all miss tweets in our feed.

I was pleased to see that those in more serious lines of business such as those in the tech/social space have a “good” following of 75-85%. The number of followers though is in the 2-10k range.

It’s an interesting exercise and one that continues the debate surrounding the obsession   with the number of followers.