Twitter Follow-Back Fail

I’ve just crossed 2,500 followers on Twitter; double the number of people who read this site. I follow roughly 680.

That means I follow roughly a quarter of the people that follow me.

I’m no A-lister (I’m many thousands of followers and a large ego short of that). I’m a communications professional, not a professional blogger. I don’t have the bandwidth to follow thousands of people while doing my job.

If you follow me I appreciate it, but don’t expect me to automatically follow you back.

So how do I decide who to follow back? Here are my five suggestions on how to go about it.

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Far and away the most common thing that causes me to follow someone is them sending me a message or engaging with me in a conversation. I’m looking for interaction and conversation when I use Twitter, so demonstrating that you’re interested in conversations about the same things that interest me raises the odds that I’ll follow exponentially.

Real name

I filter my follower-notification emails into a folder. Occasionally I’ll scan through those emails. If I see a topic or company name, unless it’s a brand I’m particularly interested in I’m unlikely to even click through to the Twitter profile to see if it’s interesting. However, this isn’t enough to guarantee a follow on its own.

Relevant bio

If I click through to someone’s profile, I immediately look at their bio information. I look for people who live near me; people who work in similar jobs and people with similar interests. If there’s no bio, it lowers the chances I’ll follow. If I find the bio compelling, I’ll either follow there and then or keep looking.

Website

If the bio is compelling, the next thing I look at is the person’s website. I’m more likely to follow people who write about things that interest me.

Messages posted

The last thing I’ll look at is the kind of things they’re posting. You might think this would be higher-up the list, but it’s a bit more of a crap-shoot – people won’t always post on-topic. Twitter is all about conversations, and sometimes they veer off-topic. So, a person’s updates are the last thing I look at. I look at how people are posting (if updates are all fed through RSS feeds it’s a no-go), whether they broadcast or converse (the former is a no-follow) and general topics.

There you have it – my five things to look at when you’re deciding whether to follow someone back.

This is a very personal thing – different people look for different things. Some people follow everyone back; others filter. How do you approach it?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.