image 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.