Dear Ace: MySpace is played out, Facebook is getting there, and I’m ready to set up a new circle of on-the-Internet friends. Who are some of the most prevalent Tweeters in Charlottesville, and how do I become one of them?—Twit-Or-Miss-in-Charlottesville
There are a number of ways to connect with the Charlottesville Twitterati. One is through Twibes.com, which allows Twitter users to form groups around common topics. Charlottesville’s Twibe page is a veritable who’s-who of active Tweeters, including Jim Duncan, a realtor and founder of the long-running Real Central Virginia blog. Duncan organizes regular “tweet ups,” IRL gatherings of local Twitter users at venues like Rapture and OpenSpace, and as of this writing has 2,611 followers while following 1,666—yielding him a healthy, unpretentious ratio of approximately 1.57.
Allow Ace to explain. One of the prerequisites of even setting foot into the sordid, dog-eat-dog Twitter scene is to have a nuanced understanding of the follower-following ratio, and the politics involved. In general, you want this ratio to be larger than one—so as to suggest a high level of desirability—but not too large, or people will consider you so out of their league that they will fear and hate you. So how large is too large? It is impossible to say. If you are a bona fide celebrity—even an imaginary one, like a notorious, and sadly, now-defunct Christopher Walken impersonator—your followers might number in the tens of thousands, and it would be unrealistic to return the courtesy to each.
But there are varying degrees of celebrity. Local food critic Brian J. Geiger, otherwise known as thefoodgeek, has 2,775 followers and follows a mere 986. Yet who are we to judge the merits of a 2.81 ratio, or whether Geiger commands such a staggering quotient? To quote William Blake, “One law for the lion and the ox is oppression.”
Then again, you also encounter Tweeters who achieve respectable followings while maintaining a less-than-one ratio, like professional search engine optimizer Janet Miller (1,882 followers; 0.91 ratio)—thus building and perhaps benefiting from a more charitable reputation. And the most-followed Tweeter around here that Ace could find, Palmyra realtor Daniel Rothamel (a.k.a. RealEstateZebra), strikes a nice balance with 4,891 followers over 4,197 followed. In truth, the ratio probably matters less than being an active, responsive Tweeter—although, as in real life, having a good-looking profile doesn’t hurt.
You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 20 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.