Twitter: The Art of Following

by Ron on May 12, 2009


Guest post by Christine Pilch

I was way behind on my Twitter follow-backs, and I took an hour last night to work on them. I am careful about who I follow back. I only reciprocally follow someone who I believe will bring value to my twit stream, someone that I think I am likely to engage with, learn from, and enjoy their company. I suppose I would be much higher up in the Twitter rankings if I mass-followed everybody, but that strategy doesn’t work for me.

So, when someone follows me, I go to their page and read their bio. I am drawn to someone who looks interesting. They don’t have to share all the same interests as me, but they have to offer something that will entertain me, teach me, make me laugh, inspire me, or make me think.

I also look at their number of followers and following. If those two numbers are way out of proportion, like 5000 followers and following 50, I am suspicious. That person is likely more interested in broadcasting than sharing. And for me, the whole point of Twitter is to build relationships, resources, and network.

I also review where they are. I like to know where someone’s home-base is. Obscure locations, like, “The World,” make me wonder why that person is trying to hide. Since proximity is a popular reason to form Twitter relationships, I always wonder why they don’t want to appeal to their neighbors. (I always follow people from Western MA.)

Next, I read their tweets, a page or two of them. I look for a balance of unique thoughts and observations, RTs, and shared links. I won’t follow someone who blatantly tries to push their product or service, who grandstands, is negative, rude, uses profanity, or doesn’t engage with others.

If I find all of the above, I follow back.

Oh, and one final thing…sometimes I make the wrong follow choice, and I have no problem unfollowing at a later date. I also often follow people who engage with me despite my not following them. In this case, when I look at their profile again, something has usually changed. Maybe before they were new to Twitter and didn’t really have the hang of things, so I am willing to follow and share at that time.

That’s the bottom line for me. I want to learn and share, and that’s what my Twitter experience is all about. But I would like to stress that follow strategy is personal, and what works for me may not work for others. There is no right and wrong follow strategy.

Christine Pilch is a partner with Grow My Company and a social media marketing strategist training clients to utilize LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media tools to grow their businesses.

Photo by LookingGlass on Flickr

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