How To Be A Better Follower

by Bradford Shimp of All Biz Answers – follow him @bradfordshimp

dfr5mrzb_4vnz7zkfr_bimage credit: Joel Olives

We all hear so much about how to get more followers on Twitter and how to use it to make money. Those things are well and good, but Twitter is a two way conversation. It is just as much about following as it is about getting followers.

Choose Who You Follow For the Right Reasons

Being a good follower starts with why you choose to follow someone on Twitter. I recently watched a video that presented a strategy of following random people to see who would follow you back. The sole purpose of this strategy was to get more followers.

I personally would rather follow one person who actively engages with me and who provides interesting and useful content than one thousand who will follow me back but who will not engage or be interesting. Take a minute to think about value. What is the value of one new follower who follows you back? It is one. Now, what is the value of following a person who provides a constant stream of interesting content? The amount of enjoyment and education you get out of following that person is immeasurable. Why would you trade that for just one follow? In other words, it shouldn’t matter if a person follows you back or not. The only thing that should matter to you is whether the person you are following provides you with great content.

Pass Along Quality Tweets

Once you find someone to follow who provides good content, don’t keep them to yourself. If you read a tweet that resonates with you, be sure to pass it on. In Twitterworld, this is generally called a retweet. You simply copy and paste the message into your tweet box, add RT and the @username of the person who originally sent the tweet, and send it on to your followers. You may also want to rewrite the tweet, but be sure to give the originator all the credit.

When you pass along good tweets, you are accomplishing several things. You are helping the originator get her tweet out to a much larger audience. At the same time, you are validating the tweet, saying that you agree with it and that is is worth reading. You also are increasing the tweet’s life span. If it gets retweeted by you, you have doubled the chance that someone will see it, because it has now gone on the Twitter stream twice. Finally, you are promoting the author of the tweet to your followers, and they may choose to follow as well.

Let Them Know You Are There

Everyone likes a little feedback. One of the best things you can do as a follower is to send out some affirmation from time to time. If you enjoy someone’s tweets, let them know about it. You can do this directly by sending a reply or a direct message. Or you can talk about how great the person is in a tweet. Be sure to use their username with an @ symbol in front of it so that they will be sure to see it. If you want to be sure all of your followers see your tweet about the person, do not lead with it. Twitter treats this as a reply and in some cases your followers who are not already following that person will not see it. Just add their @username later in your tweet.
Even the most prolific and well known twitterers can burn out from time to time. Nothing validates someone as much as a heartfelt shout out or thank you. Be that follower, and you will earn a lot of gratitude.

Follow More Closely

The more you use Twitter, you will likely follow more and more people. Without a plan, it will be hard for you to follow anyone closely. If you are just skimming over random tweets, you are not being a very good follower. You can vastly improve this by using any number of tools available to  help you keep track of the twitterers that you are following.

I personally use TweetDeck, a free tool that you can download to your desktop. It gives you the option to set up groups and place twitterers in these groups. This is essential if you are following a large number of people and you want to follow some of them more closely. You can’t follow every tweet of every person, but you can read a fair number of tweets from your favorite people if you use the right tools. There a many other choices besides TweetDeck, including TweetGrid and Seesmic. If you prefer not using any tools, you can also manually read the tweet streams of your favorite people to see what they have been saying. You do this by going to twitter.com and adding /username of the person whose stream you want to read, ie. twitter.com/username.
If someone is providing interesting and useful tweets, it makes sense for you to follow them more closely. A good follower doesn’t want to miss out on anything that is being shared.

The important thing is to not lose sight of why you use Twitter in the first place. Its about finding and building quality relationships. Those relationships can lead to many places, including friendships, business opportunities, and even income. But it all starts with a conversation.
Today, spend some of your Twitter time being a better follower. Promote some good tweets. Send some encouragement. Follow someone because you like what they have to say. Being a good follower is just as important as broadcasting your own quality content.

Comments

  • May 23, 2009

    These days a lot of people on twitter are following people just to inflate their followers count.

    Though this is not entirely wrong, at least we should choose who to follow and be a good follower by promoting/sharing their tweets.

    Since it’s friday today, promote your followers by tweeting them in your #followfriday tweets.

    Nice post Bradford .

  • May 23, 2009

    Bradford,

    Thanks for a great post!

    Based on your post, looks like I’m on the right track. This week, I’ve been putting some extra effort into letting the people I follow know that I’m listening. Every morning and evening, although I have a hectic schedule (doesn’t everyone?), I carve out between 15 and 30 minutes to simply read and respond to several of the core people with whom I correspond and as many other people as I can get to in that time frame. I’ll RT some of their interesting posts, further their conversations and comment on their tweets.

    Doing so has helped me to spark some new conversations and, as a result, gain some new followers. Since joining Twitter, I have tried to keep from getting sucked-in to the race to gain tons of followers. After all, numbers don’t matter. The relationships with followers are where it’s at.

    Thanks again for this post. It gave me some new perspective and practices to emulate.

    Alan

  • May 23, 2009

    “I personally would rather follow one person who actively engages with me and who provides interesting and useful content than one thousand who will follow me back but who will not engage or be interesting.”

    I couldn’t agree with this more. I would rather grow slowly with Twitter than grow poorly. Who and how you follow is essential. Way to lay it out.

  • May 23, 2009

    A well timed article for me as I just started in Twitter yesterday. Twitter interests me, or rather what people do with it. I watched and within a very short time of doing my first tweet I had some people start to follow me. Having really no clue at that point about how exactly Twitter works, I was a little bamboozled. I mean, what’s in it for them? But a new contact is a new contact – we’re all human beings after all. So I followed back everyone unless they looked weird – appeared only to be trying to sell to me, or didn’t tweet at all.

    I can always just unfollow later. Right? Thanks for the tips on being a good follower.

  • May 23, 2009

    Thanks you for writing a post on Twitter etiquette. I agree with you completely.

    I have always been very careful about who I follow, and I’m never insulted if someone that I don’t know personally doesn’t follow me back. It’s great to have a ton of followers, but if they are not reading what you have to say, the numbers are useless.

    The one thing that I would like to have is a way to DM someone who isn’t following me. There have been times that I try to click on a link from a tweet and find that it’s broken. Instead of letting the whole world know that it’s dead, it would be nice to give a little feedback to people that you follow.

  • May 23, 2009

    Twitter is so new that there are many ways to use it. I think there is no right or wrong way to use it – law of attraction sorts it all out, anyway. :-)

  • May 23, 2009

    I really think people stress too much on getting followers rather than looking after the followers that they already have. We routinely go through our new followers and check out their twitter profiles – 9 times out of 10 they have no blog or are just spamming an affiliate link. But occasionally we find someone with a really good blog relevant to our topic. If we see a good blog post we try to add to the conversation by adding a relevant blog comment. The big bloggers better watch out, the little guys have more power now because of twitter.

    Twitter is awesome it is the first social media property that has enabled us to discover our passions and find people to ‘tribe with’ who have the same passions.

    Twitter will change the world!

  • May 23, 2009

    SAY U HAVE 3,465 updates,
    witch I do & it contunes to clime
    is this a good thing or
    will it lag u or what??
    so far I am 226 Following
    & ppl who r 76 Followers me
    what can I do about my updates
    humm my topics r normaly on
    criss angel/vampires/ghost Hunters
    & what ever elts comes up I do fine
    Twitter a cool place & I am tryingto let the word out
    but not evey one is up to the chanlge & dont have enough
    tiem bc itis time consuming witch itis lol
    other then that Twitter is ok ;-)

  • May 23, 2009

    Thanks for the wonderful comments.

    I think it is so important to consider value on Twitter. Big numbers of followers may be good for the ego, but if you don’t have engaging relationships with them they don’t mean a whole lot.

    There is so much value in being a giver. All you need to do is think about what type of people you want to follow you. You can then be that kind of follower for others. Giving encouragement, feedback, and such can lead to wonderful relationships.

    Just as in life where we should listen more than we talk, we should do the same on Twitter.

    @Alisonkerr – Welcome to the Twitter family. There is so much to get out of relationships built here. When I started on Twitter, I did not personally know anyone who was using it. Now I am developing great new friendships and business relationships!

    @EzyBlogger – I agree with you completely. When you take part in #followfriday, try to tell a little about the person and why you think they are worth following.

    @RenaR – Indeed, it would be nice to be able to discreetly tell someone who doesn’t follow you if they have a bad link. However, I think that Twitter probably blocks DM so as to keep Spam there at a minimum. If anyone could DM anyone else, there would be a whole horde of spammers taking advantage of that.

  • May 23, 2009

    Great advice! I find you to be a valuable resource! I think this particular article brings home two important points.

    Firstly, we always must think about how we can be of service to others! In this case, GIVING great content that we have created and SHARING great content that has been created by others. This is the embodiment of a true community!

    Secondly, Twitter is a marketing tool. We must be strategic about what we are doing and why we are doing it!

  • May 23, 2009

    Great post!

    I should go for the slow grow. I hate it to follow a bunch of people just for the chance they’ll follow you back!

  • May 23, 2009

    Peter, I here ya! I think that is a horrible reason to follow someone. Far better to follow because you find someone interesting.

  • May 23, 2009

    I think the slow grow method is the more secure one on the long term as that way you know the people following you have approached you and will continue to follow you as oppose to the other way round

  • May 23, 2009
    cbemerine
    @cbemerine

    Great post, everyone should note that the changes on the @ and RT policies will make it a little more difficult without a their party addon tool for people to know that you are responding to them. Especially as their count goes over 100 users. I have no doubt that someone has sent me an @ type of message and RT something I have posted, but I do not know it YET. Please be patient, as people get use to twitter and the additional tools, they will start seeing your messages to them and respond. Just give them time. I know I need time, how about you?

  • May 23, 2009

    Hi Peter,

    This is great and valuable content. It is going to help me to be a better tweeter.

    Thanks and I look forward to reading more of your content.

    Pauline

  • May 24, 2009

    Great information. I am so new to Twitter and even to Facebook, and at times I feel lost as to what I am doing here. This really helped me to understand more of what it is all about.

    Thanks,
    Ev

  • May 24, 2009

    I am amazed how many people get literally thousands of followers without a single tweet. Not one.

    Personally, I use SocialToo to auto-follow those who follow me. I then go back into my followers and un-follow people who don’t contribute to the conversation, or who are simply trying to spam.

    One last filter I use is configuring my Twitter tools to separate out the tweets from those I particularly like into my “Really Follow” group. That way, I can keep an eye on the stream for new conversations, but focus on the ones I really enjoy.

  • May 24, 2009
    Alice Trask
    @AliceTrask

    I thought it would be fun to follow celebrities that I admire. I really appreciate the ones that give us access to their lives that would normally be impossible. What I’ve discovered, however, is many of them want to be followed, but refuse to reply to a direct question or statement. I find this extremely rude and embarassing. I realize that most celebrities have thousands of followers and probably can’t keep up with all the questions, but many times, just a couple words are all that are needed. Doesn’t take long.
    So, if you’re a celebrity and you constantly advertise for more followers(Ashton et al), try to show your appreciation for the ones that do follow and speak to them personally when they ask you something. Or else send them a private message and let them know you’re not interested in communicating with that person. Don’t just let someone keep Tweeting you with questions or comments and totally ignore them. That is horrible etiquette.

  • May 24, 2009

    Interesting advice. I’ve been in Twitter for a couple of months or so and follow 30 people, with the same number of followers. I don’t understand anyone who follows 100s or even 1000s of people, unless they have 24 hours a day to sit and read all the postings. It’s always nice to find new people following you, but when those followers seem to be commercial enterprises, or political groups, I block them at once. I’m only interested in people.

  • May 24, 2009

    Unfollow those who continue to provide absolutely no information without the need to click on a link.

  • May 28, 2009

    thnk you for this post, was great and its somthing to put on practice.

  • June 6, 2009
    Sally Frank

    You may think you have 100, 500, 1000 or 10,000 followers, but in reality one only has about 20 hardcore followers.
    Don’t believe it – take this test.
    Put links on your Tweets and see how many people click on them. ( Sign up for a URL shortening account at http://www.bit.ly and you can get very good statistics on how many people click on your Twitter links, plus when and from where. It is a real eye opener.)
    Twitter is becoming an Instant Messaging service between people with similar interests.

  • June 11, 2009

    Sally – HootSuite uses ow.ly – I find it much better than bit.ly and it shows me how many users are clicking on the links that I provide. I think it’s a nicer interface and it allows you to time the posting of your tweets.

  • June 11, 2009

    Sally,

    I agree with you concerning core audience. My advice is to keep doing the things you want others to do for you. In other words, pay attention to people, and they will pay attention to you.

    A group of hardcore followers is a great thing to have.

    Rena, I agree with you about Hootsuite.

  • October 23, 2009

    I think it’s so funny how many of the high count follower/followees unfollow if you don’t follow them back. I guess it’s like extending a hand for a handshake and feeling like it’s left hanging, but I can still attend to a @ conversation without following. It’s easier than committing to a barrage of RTs thanking people for RTs.

    Peace.

  • November 21, 2009

    This is so helpful. Like everything, it’s a two way street. Thank you.

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