Are Twitter followers a community?

Chris Brogan and lots of commenters discuss Andrew Baron‘s decision to auction his Twitter account. What he’s actually auctioning are the nearly 1,500 followers the account has built up. Andrew, who owns Rocketboom, has another Twitter account and is rarely using the “@andrewbaron” one.

Chris and his commenters raise some interesting issues. The debate taking place focuses on the notion that Andrew is “selling” or “selling-out” his “community.”

I think it’s a great “micro” lesson in the economics of circulation or subscription-value — or “list value.”.

I don’t think, however, it’s about “community.” Following someone on Twitter is like signing up for an RSS newsfeed. With one-click the subscriber is in or out. No “registering.” No “approving.” No “confirming.” One-click in. One-click out. Anything with that low of an admission price is not a community. I have the same problem with calling Twitter followers “community” that I have with magazine companies calling their subscribers a “community.” To me, community is something the “members” create among themselves. A person or entity may host or foster community — and a community may evolve. But a “list” is not a community.

Is there any value to nearly 1,500 Twitter-users agreeing to follow you account?

There is if they’re the type of people who would follow Andrew Baron.

Will they continue to follow the new account-holder when the “following” is transferred to a new username (if, indeed, it is)?

I’m guessing a majority of the followers won’t know it’s been changed unless it is purchased by an online gambling service who will use it to test out Twitter spam.

Whatever happens, it’s an interesting experiment.

Interestingly, Andrew has picked up a lot of followers since announcing this — including me.

Sidenote: I bet Chris Brogan would do well if he auctioned off his 6,200-follower Twitter account. But in Chris’s case, a community “has” evolved, because he spends so much time and effort introducing one follower to another. With Chris, you get the feeling he actually knows those 6,200 people. In Chris’ case, his followers are not just a list.

Second sidenote: I’m sure there has been some Twitter “username” speculation. I’ve got at least one or two registered for a rainy day.