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Why I'm Following You on Twitter (Or Not)

By John McTigueJan 26, 2011

why-i-would-follow-you-on-twitterI'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not I'm an "influencer". Frankly, I don't really care. My goal is to be helpful, not popular. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that I am an influencer, and it's in your best interest to follow me on Twitter. Why?

  1. You can learn from me about my specialty (inbound marketing) and you can find other sources of good content and other influencers by following me
  2. If I follow you back, and better yet, I tweet or retweet your content, you have a better chance of being seen by more of your potential audience and ultimately become more of an influencer in your own right

Now, let's take things one at a time. Once you have found me and you are following me, what goes into my decision to follow you, or not? No, I don't autofollow everyone. If you do this, I would strongly advise you to stop. It serves no purpose other than a "numbers game", and that's not a good way to become an "influencer". I don't spend hours reviewing each new follower, but I do look for certain qualifications at a glance.

  • Is your avatar a picture of you? Unless you are a company or product, it should be. If you look like a pretty normal person with whom I might easily have a conversation, you pass the first "smell test". I like headshots, preferably smiling and not too formal.
  • Are you active and genuine? How many tweets do you send? When was the last one, and what do you tweet about? I look for a mix of personal engagement and content referrals (links). If all you do is tweet about your own stuff for sale or one topic, I'm moving on.
  • Are you a snob? Do you follow others back, or do you take pride in being miserly about that? Unless you're a well-known influencer with great content, I'm not following the misers back.
  • Are you active on lists? How many lists do you follow and how many follow you? This is a big clue about whether or not you understand the dynamics of Twitter. If you want to be found and you want to engage a lot, you should follow lists and tweet great content consistently that will prompt people to add you to theirs.
  • Are you a robot? If a majority of your tweets are from Hootsuite or SocialOomph (formerly Tweetlater), I'm suspicious that you rely on automation too much, and you may be a spammer.
  • Do you send me an "autoDM", an automated direct message thanking me for following you and offering me something I didn't ask for? This makes me wish I hadn't followed you, and I might well reverse the decision. Don't do autoDM's folks. It shows you're a rank amateur at best.

Phase 2 - Getting on My Lists

Now that I'm following you, you've made it into my "funnel". How do you make it onto one of my favorite lists, so I will see your tweets, click on your links, read them and retweet? This is easy. Be yourself and be helpful. Same rules apply as in being followed. Consistently tweet and retweet great content and add your own ideas. Answer other people's questions and ask intelligent ones yourself. Don't schedule your tweets unless you absolutely have to. Don't blast 20 tweets at once. Don't be too self promotional. Engage with me, and yes, it doesn't hurt to retweet my stuff to get my attention. Not too much though. I will know if you're just "sucking up".

These are my rules, and I think they're not too different from other active participants on Twitter. I look forward to meeting many more of you and I wish you the best on your journey to whatever goals you have for Twitter and social media.

What are your best practices for Twitter and social media?


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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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