Yesterday I came across an absolutely fascinating article about how much your Twitter Follower Count “matters”. It’s conclusion? Not at all. The article is ten months old, so this is a guy who was way ahead of his time in asking the question, witnessed by his reference to Ashton Kutcher trying to be the first person on Twitter with one million followers (he’s approaching 4.5 million as of today). That rate of increase, by the way, is a business change we could all live with.

He came to the conclusion that your follower count doesn’t matter. His point, well-taken as it was, was limited, though: the larger your follower count gets, the higher your percentage of not-real-people “followers” becomes.

A while back, I told you about Kim Kardashian ‘s deal to be paid $10,000 per tweet by certain advertisers. I suggested that paying that amount of money to reach 2.8 million opted-in receivers of an advertising message was a relative bargain. Now, in light of the story I read yesterday I ask: what’s the real number of people being reached?

And the answer is: nobody knows.

There are services that will look at your followers and offer an opinion on how many are garbage, but that’s the easy part; if it turns out that 80% of her followers are garbage does that mean that the other 20% actually read what she writes? No; and . . . we don’t know how many DO, and as far as I know there’s no tool that will tell you that.

In fact, even if Twitter wanted to try to answer that question, it couldn’t.

I follow only about 50 people. Their tweets show up on my Droid. I scroll through them and scan for useful information, but let’s be honest: I miss a bunch. AND I’M ACTUALLY ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO GOES THAT FAR. My fifty people, by the time I pick up my phone each morning, generally create about 200 stacked up tweets; people who follow lots of big names can’t possibly keep up!

Twitter is in no position to say anything meaningful on the subject, so there’s truly no fix. So can you even get a meaningful CPM figure to decide whether paying for access to Kim Kardashian ‘s 2.8 million followers is worth it? No.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t invalidate the importance of social networking. Get on Twitter, and wherever else makes sense to you. Follow only people who are genuinely useful to you (ask us for help if you aren’t sure who that is).

And remember that business change, by its nature, is change. So don’t try to apply what you already “know”.

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