Twitter and the 2014 Election: Mysteries Revealed!

09/17/2013 10:34 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2013

For the past few months the Reboot Illinois team has been watching the 2014 candidates for Illinois governor carefully, but I have been paying particularly close attention to the candidates' social media profiles. Why? Because social media is not like any other news source. Unlike your favorite newspaper, Facebook and Twitter were created to encourage people to be social, i.e. two-way communication. So, what do I see when I look at the candidates' social media pages? Here's my breakdown of Twitter:

Twitter is intended to be a platform for people to share their thoughts, news, and information in a 140-character blurb and encourage conversations with people all around the world. People can "Follow" specific users or groups to stay up-to-date on their updates or, "Tweets." What many people do not know, is that Twitter has ratios which determine a healthy Twitter account, the two most important are: Followers-to-Following and Tweets-to-Followers.

Followers-to-Following: The "good ratio" for this is 1:1, or one follower for every person you follow. There are a couple of reasons that Twitter wants users to follow this number, the first is to stop spammers, if you start following people at a mass level, chances are your follower number will be very low. A 1:1 ratio says that you are seeking conversations, you are listening to people and people want to listen to you; otherwise Twitter may flag you as a bot. On the other hand, having a lot of followers but a very low following is poor social media etiquette. Personally I believe that it defeats the purpose of Twitter and says that you are only interested in talking at people rather than with them.

Tweets to Followers: This number varies from account to account, especially based on the type of user they are, for example it is safe to assume a news group would be sending a constant stream of tweets, but when it comes down to the individual level, I personally do not care to have my Twitter stream filled with someone's play-by-play of every single thought they had that day. On the individual level, my rule of thumb is one to three tweets per Follower, this tells me that the quality of your content is interesting enough to earn Follows and that you are actually earning people's interest and contributing to the conversation. Social Media Tools like Klout, recognize quality Social Media accounts and assigns scores based on one's social media influence, and this ratio is important in measuring how influential a person is.

Now that you know what a quality Twitter account should look like, what does this say about the 2014 candidates for Illinois governor? The first thing I notice is that almost none of the candidates have a good Follower-to-Following ratio! The only candidate that has a good F-2-F ratio is Dan Rutherford, which makes Governor Pat Quinn the worst F-2-F abuser. According to, if a user has a Twitter Follower-Following Ratio that is 10 or higher (Quinn is at a 27), "'re either a Rock Star in your field or you are an elitist and you cannot be bothered by Twitter's mindless chatter. You like to hear yourself talk."
Second, I was relieved to see that the Tweets-to-Followers ratio for the candidates was much more acceptable per the one to three Tweets per Follower rule of thumb. However, it is interesting (alright, I will just come out and say it, it's fishy) that despite only sending 405 tweets, Bill Brady has earned 3,349 Followers. Wow. He must be tweeting pure gold. But kudos to Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford on having nearly a one-to-one, tweet to follower ratio; which tells me that with almost every tweet they send, they earn at least one Follower.

In short, in terms of Twitter-etiquette and how the candidates stack up to each other, this tells me that Dan Rutherford is playing by the social media rules, Kirk Dillard is one of the most engaging candidates on the Twitter-sphere, people must really want to hear what Gov. Quinn has to say, and Bill Brady writes golden tweets. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will see what the candidates' Facebook pages really say about them; and trust us, you will be surprised!