When I peruse the different Twitter followers and followees I often get Twitter envy when I stumble across some users with a large follower base. Now of course I’m not referring to the Ashton social-networking-packageKutchers of the world, but the common users with marketing or community backgrounds, specifically mid range users with 10k plus followers. Not the ones with 100’s of thousands of followers. Sorry, if you have that many, there is no chance you have strong connections with most of those people. Celebrities and sports stars don’t apply here. That’s a whole different conversation.

And that leads me to my question; Quantity or Quality? What’s more important? And once you get into the 10k follower range, does it make it more difficult to manage? I didn’t really spend too much time with my personal account on Twitter while at Microsoft but over the past few months, I’ve made it a priority to work on building my following, but doing so in a qualified, strategic way. I’m not just trying to add as many followers that I can, but add ones that have some sort of connection to me, professionally or personally. Community, marketing, video production, are some examples of professional connections. Maybe, they live near me, love gadgets or the Cubbies. Whatever the case may be, I try to find those with a connection so that our future interactions are meaningful and not just wasted on those that could care less about what I have to say (or worse yet, spam or automated accounts).

On average, I’m adding 30-40 per day when I work at it. If I kept this pace up, I’d hit roughly 10k followers in the next year. Certainly my goal is sustained, manageable growth so that I can ensure my network is a strong one. It would be interesting to hear from some of you if you’ve taken this approach and/or you feel your current network does demonstrate strength. I believe it to be working. I’ve grown my blog traffic 10x since being laid off, and Twitter has been a significant source of traffic. Bottom line is if you work hard to build a relevant network, those followers are going to care about what you have to say.

It’s not an easiest thing to do. Sure there is software out there that can automate some of the process, but many times, software can’t take the place of a real human being identifying whether certain followers are in fact relevant. You have to get in there and look around yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I have irrelevant or spam account followers just like everyone else. I thought it was great that Twitter did a purge of spam accounts a few weeks back. Saves users quite a bit of time having to go through it. I would imagine most would not as your Twitter following is a badge of honor for most people.

But I say quality reigns supreme. The fact is effective social networking and community building is more about building meaningful, useful conversations and relationships with those that are interested in what you have to offer or say. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time, persistence, knowledge and dedication to building these communities up, and the rewards can be tremendous.

So what do you think?