First there was a debate about LIONS (LinkedIn Open Networkers) on LinkedIn, and now there’s dialogue about collecting followers on Twitter.

Guy Kawasaki generated a huge conversation with his post last week on the topic. His advice ranged from tweeting top social media folks (“all you want to do is appear like you have a relationship with them to enhance your credibility”) to repeating your tweets throughout the course of the day. Less controversial were Kawasaki’s tips on establishing yourself as a subject matter expert and using the right Twitter tools.

My issue with Kawasaki’s post is that its focus is largely on the vanity of collecting followers and not the quality of the conversation. And he’s by no means alone in voicing this perspective. I’ve seen a number of people tweet or retweet that they’re close to a milestone number, and will you please follow them too?

Why should I? Are you interesting?

If you have 5,000 or 25,000 followers, how many are you listening to — let alone engaging with?

I know some people with multiple followers who are superheros in their ability to engage their online communities. Or they’re providing so much useful information to their followers that it makes sense to follow their tweets even if it’s primarily a one-way communications channel. But they’re the exceptions.

I don’t know at what number you max out and start filtering tweets so you’re really only engaging those followers in your inner community. And while I can list a number of ways that having lots of followers can be of value, I just think we each need to make sure that value flows both ways.

Photo by Eden Pictures (Flickr).