One of the basic key metrics of Twitter is the number of followers you have. It’s generally interpreted to indicate how much reach you have in your messages, and folks often like to announce when they’ve reached a certain milestone (“We now have over 1000 followers! Thanks for your support!”). I’ve been on the verge of several “milestones” with my account (100, then 150, now 200), but I keep backing away from them each time. Why? Because I value quality much more than quantity.

In your travels on Twitter, you’ll snag followers for several reasons. You have great content to share. You make a connection, and they pass you along to their followers. You get recommended. You get followed because of specific keywords in your tweets. Spammers really like you. Oh, and don’t forget the porn. The numbers start to add up. Before long, if you’re lucky, you’ll reach a “milestone”.

But what does that really mean to you? Is each and every one of those accounts actually listening to you? How many do you regularly engage with? Once you take a more critical eye to your roster, you get a picture of how your online relationships are shaped. And a good percentage of them are garbage.

I regularly prune my followers. Irrelevant keyword matches? Blocked. Obvious product promotions? Blocked. Offers to make me money or grant me more followers? Blocked. Dead or inactive accounts? Blocked.

It’s not that I don’t want these accounts to follow me; I could care less about which of my posts they read. It’s simply this: I want to know that I’m being followed for a reason. That my words and thoughts are being heard by folks who actively, purposely decided to follow me. This way, when I look over the numbers, I can truly see how much of an effect I’m having in my small corner of the Twitterverse. Call it narcissism or whatever you want; I want quality, and I’m going to get it.