Why Autofollow on Twitter?
Ever wondered why do people use automated services to follow people back on Twitter?
I’ve heard lots of different reasons given, almost none of which make sense to me:
- They feel some kind of obligation to reciprocate when someone follows (do you subscribe to all of your blog subscribers’ blogs?)
- They want others to be able to DM them (if you’re a business then fine; otherwise can’t they just say they want to DM you, and ask for the follow?)
- They want to get to know more people (this has some validity, although once you’re past a certain number it’s hard to really get to know everyone)
One of the underlying ones, though, which I suspect few people admit, is that they think that by following everyone back they will maintain more followers.
Until recently, the people who auto-followed were easy to spot – they were the ones complaining about receiving large volumes of auto-DMs (messages automatically sent when people follow some accounts).
I’ve written before about my approach to “following people back” on Twitter. To summarize – rather than automatically following back, I look at a variety of factors:
- Occurrence @ replies to me;
- Use of a real name in the user name or bio;
- Relevance of bio to my interests;
- Relevance of website to my interests;
- Relevance of recent posts.
Note: To be clear, as I’ve said before, I absolutely appreciate every single person who chooses to follow me on Twitter and I’d be delighted to have conversations with each of them – just send me an @ message to say hi and let’s chat!
Two weeks ago I decided to start an experiment – I decided to find out whether auto-following people did have an effect on follower numbers. So, I signed-up for Tweetlater and set up my account to automatically follow-back people who followed me.
Auto-following back had no effect on the number of people following me.
The math: Over the last three months, according to Tweetcounter my average number of new followers per day was 26. Over the last two weeks, the average number was 27.7 – a marginal difference, even despite a big jump of over 100 on one day.
I’m not going to start telling other people how to go about choosing who they follow. As far as I’m concerned that’s a personal thing and, while I’ll frown on people trying to game the system to generate a big following, as long as you don’t hurt other people I think it’s largely up to you.
With that said, if you’re auto-following people back in the hope of driving-up your numbers then think again.
It doesn’t work.
I’m curious – do you use an auto-following service on Twitter? If so, why?
(For the record, I’ve now turned auto-following off on my account. While I try to check-out my new followers as much as I can, if you would like to connect, send me an @ message to say hi!)