How to Follow Everyone Back on Twitter Without Ruining Your Experience

by Skellie from Skelliewag. Follow her @skellie.

How often have you heard the argument that not following back everyone who follows you is ’snobby’ and ‘arrogant’?

(It’s not, and you shouldn’t listen to anyone who tells you so. You have a right to choose who you follow and don’t follow.)

Following everyone back has other benefits, though – and this is coming from someone who used to be a die-hard proponent of only following a smaller group of people who you know and admire.

Following everyone back helps you to create stronger relationships with the people who care about what you do online. Any marketer will tell you that relationships are the key to success. Even if you’re just using Twitter for the fun of it, relationships and getting to know fantastic people are what makes it rewarding.

But what if you don’t want to miss out on tweets from your favorite Twitter users?

In this post, I’m going to show you how to have your cake and eat it too. You can follow everyone while still keeping close tabs on your favorite Twitter users.

Having a strategy in place for doing this is important, because following back hundreds or even thousands of people can drastically change the way you experience Twitter. If you don’t do it in a controlled way, it can spoil your experience.

Instead of reading tweets from a smaller group of people you know, like and respect, you will instead be receiving tweets from virtually anyone and everyone who takes an interest in you. This often includes people who tweet in languages you don’t speak or about topics you’re not interested in. It will certainly include a few spammers.

When following back everyone, you will also not be able to read every tweet on your timeline if you have a lot of followers. Your Twitter client can only display so many at once, so you will start to miss the tweets of your favorite Twitter users.

Despite some of the negatives, the positives of following back everyone who follows you are significant, and I believe they make it worth it. Here are just a few:

  • Your follower count will increase much more quickly. I didn’t believe it would have this effect at first, but when I want from following 200 people to over 2,000 people, my follower count began to go up much faster than ever before. There are a lot of Twitter users who build their follower account one at a time, often by following people who they know will follow them back. Some of your fans will be part of this group. You might argue that someone who only follows for this reason is not actually interested in you, but you now have the chance to transform them into a fan with your valuable tweets. I have to thank Twitter jedi Roger Byrne for convincing me to give this a try.
  • Quality of engagement with your Twitter followers trumps quantity. Twitter is an incredible platform to strengthen relationships with people who are interested in you. If you’re selling something, here’s your chance to create relationships that will lead to sales. If you want your tweets or content to go viral, here’s your chance to create an army of supporters by helping them like you more.
  • People feel more positively towards you when you follow them. Have you ever felt a buzz when someone you admire follows you back on Twitter? That’s how you can make other people feel by following them back.
  • Get a priceless birds-eye view of who you attract online. Anyone building a personal brand online can learn so much by following everyone back. You’ll learn what your fans are interested in, what they’re worried about, what they really want from you.
  • Get to know fascinating people. This is my favorite part. Through following back all my followers, I’ve got to know some very cool people I would not have discovered otherwise. Aside from the fun factor, you’ll often discover people who can give great feedback, answer your questions and provide skills that you need.
  • How do you keep it together?

    Note: This method utilizes TweetDeck because I think it’s the best client for managing a lot of follows. This is because it separates @ replies and DMs from the main timeline, meaning it’s much easier to keep track of them. TweetDeck’s group function is also key to this method.

    Using TweetDeck, click the ‘Group’ button in the menu bar. Give your group a name, then add everyone you are currently following to that group. This is where you preserve your current Twitter experience. I would actually recommend copying and pasting this list of usernames and keeping it in a safe place, so if you ever have a problem with TweetDeck you can still recreate this special collection of users.

    Next, log into your account and follow back everyone who follows you. Your ‘All Friends’ TweetDeck column will now show the updates for all your followers, but if you widen the TweetDeck window, you will also see a column displaying tweets from only the people you actively chose to follow.

    You can add users on the fly to your group by clicking the [+] beneath their tweets (and next to their username) in TweetDeck. If you want to add the user before waiting for a tweet to appear, search their username with the ‘Twitter Search’ button in the TweetDeck menu bar.

    As I hope you can see, this method lets you use Twitter to keep tabs on a select number of sources while also engaging with all of your followers. Most importantly, it will help you create stronger relationships with the people who care about what you do online. Best of all, you can do it while still preserving the Twitter experience you know and love.

Comments

  • April 26, 2009

    Seesmic’s Desktop client is also very good at managing a large number of followers.

    Great post, as I believe it is important to follow those who follow you.

  • April 26, 2009

    Great! post thanks for sharing. = )

  • April 26, 2009

    I love when people talk about “grouping” in Tweetdeck. What they are really saying is let me follow everyone under the sun but ignore everyone except a small group that I interact with daily. Not an authentic way to use Twitter. Quality over quantity people.

  • April 26, 2009

    I would mention that if you use a twitter client like Nambu that supports groups, you can follow everyone but create a group of the member you want to read per subject. Like Tech, Humor, Locavore and so on. Therefore you will not miss any tweets by having to reading in an outdated single thread based metaphor such as twitters web interface.

  • April 26, 2009

    I just did the same thing earlier this week. My only complaint is that if I have TweetDeck notifications on, it beeps every time my group updates. I wish I could have notifications just for @ and DM’s.

  • April 26, 2009

    I defiantly use this feature! Great post :) .

  • April 26, 2009

    Good points to following people back – I agree. What I don’t agree with is the necessity of using Tweetdeck. I installed tweetdeck and found it cumbersome to use and stressful to keep up with. My biggest gripe is that, in nearly every twitter app available, it’s difficult to follow conversations– even your own. After testing several apps, I ended up using Twirl because it notifies me immediately of @replies & dm’s, but when I’m browsing twitter posts by my friends, I’m more inclined use a combo of Firefox/Greasemoney, and a really cool Twitter script called Troy’s Twitter Script (created by Troy Thompson http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/40617) which shows the conversations linked together under the most recent post by a person (as well as other really cool features).

  • April 26, 2009

    I agree with Brian, but I am currently using TweetDeck. I’ve only been using twitter for less than two weeks and was hesitant to follow all that began following me. The reason for that was specifically because I didn’t want to lose track of the close friends I was following. Once I found TweetDeck, I immediately began following people at will. I have TweetDeck separated into a number of categories: Personal Friends, News/Radio, Celebrities, Networking, etc. It completely changed my ability to maximize my twitter experience. As richrecruiter suggested that one may lose track this way, its quite the opposite, in my experience. Now not only am I able to see nearly every tweet, I am mentally prepared to digest it, based on which column I am scanning.

    I’ll admit I am not following thousands…yet…but Tweetdeck has given me a foundation where I could see it being possible AND beneficial.

    Thanks for the post and for your interesting updates via Twitter. =)

  • April 26, 2009

    Great advice. I am already doing this and find it so helpful. I have groups for each of my primary interests/needs, along with the ALL column. For the normal days I have, juggling caregiving, grandkid-sitting and blogging, I skim my smaller group – primarily full of great people who join me in writing about eldercare issues, kids and grandkids, along with a few great blogging sites. When I have the time (which is only once or twice a week), I love to read through the ALL column. When I have a REALLY large space of time, which is rare, I love to read tweets from non-followers about interesting subjects. I find new people to follow and learn so many interesting new things.
    I especially loved the suggestion to start this process by “Using TweetDeck, click the ‘Group’ button in the menu bar. Give your group a name, then add everyone you are currently following to that group. This is where you preserve your current Twitter experience. I would actually recommend copying and pasting this list of usernames and keeping it in a safe place, so if you ever have a problem with TweetDeck you can still recreate this special collection of users.” I wish I’d done this when I first started. I am surrounded by a wonderful group of tweeters I appreciate and respect and find Twitter and the Tweeple to be such a great resource. But I have missed a few people from my early days that I don’t see as much. I will definitely be sharing this article with the new people who ask my advice, along with Twitip and Problogger itself :)

  • April 26, 2009

    Your suggestion to group those you are most interested about in a separate pane in TweetDeck is quite valid and I’ve written about this at length in my own blog. However, I will say that this only works if you are selective. If you add too many people to a group, certainly if a percentage of them update liberally, that column will become as hard to follow as the ‘All Friends’ pane.

    Groups are a great feature, but they only really work if you’re mindful about who goes in there. By adding ‘everybody’ (even if it’s just folk you’re currently following), you’re risking little more than having two feeds you won’t be able to keep up with. I believe in reciprocal following but only when the person is of interest to you personally or of relevance to your network. Not much point following @nba if you hate basketball. There’s definitely something to be said about meeting new people but this tends to arise from cultivating relationships through @reply discussions.

    @richrecruiter It’s not just that; if you follow even a few hundred people it’s very easy to ‘lose’ the tweets of those you really enjoy reading by not separating them in their own group. This is certainly true if they update infrequently, but always have something interesting to say. I agree with you in part, though; it should be about quality over quantity. One of Twitter’s greatest ironies is those with the most followers often have the least to say amongst their many updates.

    Brian’s advice above is excellent and certainly if you have a reasonable computer (TweetDeck’s a bit of a memory hog when you have too many panes and groups open) it absolutely makes sense to break your feed down into manageable chunks. It’s sometimes good practice to have one just for your ‘real life’ friends, too, as it’s easy to lose these people within Twitter. In my opinion this is a far more effective way to manage a large follow count.

    I would advise limiting any group to 100 accounts at an absolute maximum. If you want to go beyond that, set-up another group. Remember that everybody has different goals regarding how they use the network. You absolutely should not lose site of the ‘little people’, but be mindful about the folk that really matter within your niche, too.

  • April 26, 2009

    In concept I like the idea of following everyone that follows me. But in practice I am still not convinced that it is going to do anything but stretch limited resources beyond their breaking point.

  • April 26, 2009

    Great idea, Skellie. I had no idea about the group thing on TweetDeck. I was so worried that if I followed too many people, that I would stop getting the updates I care about….thanks :)

  • April 26, 2009

    Why follow people in the first place if your just going to ignore them?
    This “I follow everyone who follows me” mentality is absurd. I got like 50 wanna be twitter stars following me at the moment who have used automated stuff to follow people and then unfollow those that don’t follow back. Having a 1:1 ratio is becoming suspicious I think. Espescially now that we have the automated follow software and twitter bots.

    Personally I make use of Twitter Search to track subjects and people that I don’t see a reason to follow on a day-to-day basis.

  • April 26, 2009

    @Sheamus point taken. If I want to make sure I don’t miss someone’s tweet’s I’ll setup an RSS feed so I see every one of their tweets.

    I suppose I’m just not thrilled with the “tweetdeckerization” of Twitter movement in general. Why follow someone in the first place if you’re going to siphon them out to the “all” group in Tweedeck. In general, people that do that seem to be mainly concerned with increasing the number of followers they have.

    In my opinion, people have been led to falsely believe that the more following/followers you have the more influential you are, and are gunning to increase those numbers at any cost.

  • April 26, 2009

    Well, this post has just explained what I already do :\ I was hoping it would explain a way to keep track of all of your favorite followers’ tweets even if you’re away from your computer for a while (like to sleep!), but it doesn’t work that way with TweetDeck, unfortunately.

    I selectively follow back, but I’m not extremely picky. I look at people’s profiles and follow back the ones who look interesting. If I think I’m just going to skip over someone’s tweets, I don’t follow them!

  • April 26, 2009

    I concur. The good news is that quite a strong movement against this is building, and many of the most truly influential names on Twitter are leading the way. That said, everybody could and should be able to find a few hundred interesting people to follow, and TweetDeck helps enormously in the management of that tally.

  • April 26, 2009

    Here is a method I find that works with any twitter client including the default client. I see very few people use the add to ‘Favorites’ function of twitter. It’s to be used as a way to bookmark (adding a gold star) a favorite tweet. I think that is pointless. I would copy and paste it to a note book if it truly is that important. So what I use the ‘Favorites’ for is an ‘Address Book’ of sorts. I just add a star to friend I want to put in my address book. Then when I want to see what they are tweeting I go to the Favorites and click on their name. I then can see every tweet they have made while filtering out all my other twitter friends. I find this works much better than when I only used to follow 40 or 60 fellow tweeters.

    I ask everyone to give this method a try and let me know if it works for you. :-)

    Captain Jack
    ___/)___*_______ Sailing to my North Star

  • April 26, 2009

    Unfortunately i can’t use Twitt deck because i don’t have computer and i use only a phone. It’s very hard to follow your friend’s tweets this way… I’m afraid to follow too many people because of this annoying situation!

  • April 26, 2009

    Leaving aside that it does seem disingenuous to Follow people only to filter out their Tweets, it appears to be the case that about half my modest number of Followers have Followed me in hopes I’d Follow them back, thereby advertising their real estate businesses or their web-marketing consultancies. While it seems harsh to Block them, I’m also under no illusion they read what I Tweet. In fact I suspect a lot of them use Tweetdeck or such to filter me.

    These people never Reply to or otherwise engage with me. They post little that interests me, when they post anything but plugs for their own business. How am I “building relationships” by Following them? For that matter, how does one build relationships by pretending to Follow people and filtering out their Tweets?

  • April 26, 2009

    I think it is absurd to follow everyone who follows you…only to completely ignore them. Whether it is by never checking your account and only posting or using some type of software like Tweetdeck. I do not auto-follow anyone. If you are following me I will follow you if you offer any feedback to anything I have said or asked. That means you and I are mutually engaged in an online social experience. It is called posture in the marketplace.

    Every time something wonderful is developed spammers have a way of muddying the waters for the rest of us.

    I do love Tweetdeck but not for the reasons stated above. I think it does an excellent job of aggregating Twitter, Facebook and 12seconds. Plus, I use it to sort business people so I can stay on task during work hours. My all column is for when I have “me” time and can catch up with every one of my Tweeps.

    If I am following you…know that you are heard.

    Blessings,
    Wendy

  • April 26, 2009

    I usually agree with most of Darren’s post, but this is one of the few I don’t. I love Twitter, and have realized great benefits. But following more people that I’m not necessarily going to pay attention to just to gain more followers is absurd to me. I would much rather have 700 followers who really want to read what I have to say than 2,500 followers where 70% of them are only following me because they’d hope I’d follow them. Also, when I see people who are following thousands of people on Twitter, I always wonder why. You can’t possibly be reading everyone’s Tweets and it just seems like a waste, especially if you’re going to filter them.

    If not following all my followers means I’m limiting my # of followers, then I’m fine with that. I personally am only interested in following people who tweet about things that interest me. Yes, it looks cool to have a lot of followers, but if you tweet quality things, you’ll get that number up eventually. My follower count has increased by 600 in three months and I’m OK with that pace.

    But I do agree that TweetDeck is a good way to filter the tweets because I do follow a few of my friends and don’t necessarily want to mix their tweets with the people I follow for Internet Marketing.

  • April 26, 2009

    I’d like to point out that if everyone on twitter followed everyone who followed them, and as a result every tweeter on twitter was following large numbers of people – then having many followers would equate to very little and not offer much of an advantage.

    Let’s say everyone in the new twitter culture followed in the 1000’s. Now when someone tries to promote themself by tweeting a link it’s just going to drown out amongst all the zillions of other tweets.

    So, I find this ironic. Following everyone who follows you will only work if a select few use this methodology. The rest of those tweeting have to act as pawns in the game. And by following everyone who follows you, you’re not showing that you care about them and their tweets. Instead, you’re underscoring how important it is to you to be able to promote yourself in the widest range possible. It is self-serving.

    That is of course just my humble opinion. And I like reading all views on this subject. And I’m not saying I’m against the tactic of following everyone who follows you. I may in fact try it out one of these days. I’m just pointing out some issues I find with it.

  • April 26, 2009

    Tweeterific, Darren! Thanks

  • April 26, 2009

    Here’s an excerpt on this topic posted today on my blog: I don’t follow back 100%. If a follower tweets to provide value and interact on a personal level (even if not directly to me), that’s ok. Others who don’t reveal a real name, company, or organization, never @ or RT, only tweet hard sell and self promotion, or offend my sense of morality won’t be followed.

  • April 26, 2009

    Great tips. One thing I couldnt find was how to take a person out of your ‘all friends group’, but still follow them.

  • April 26, 2009

    Well it’s only polite.

  • April 26, 2009

    Now I think that the whole concept of following anyone is pointless. I’m discovering that twitter does not fulfill my needs to communicate with the world. Face book has way to many toys and it gets cluttered up. Nobody has heard of Friend Feed. If I want to ask a question or ask for help and I only have 20 people following me that’s only a very small pond of resources that might be able to reply back with an answer. I think twitter is operating in only 2 dimensions when it should be working in 3 dimensions. I’m thinking if there were categories that might work better. Example would be like a category for close friends and family, fans, business contacts, clubs, etc. What I’m saying it needs to expand on filtering. This is the only way to manage all the tweets coming in. Tweet decks first flaw is that it’s Adobe Air based app that does not play well with other systems. Tweet grid works with other systems and I heard they now have an iPhone app. It looks promising. I have yet to see the near perfect social networking app.

  • April 26, 2009

    In fairness, some Followers I don’t Follow back – even a few I know and like – because for whatever reason their Tweets don’t interest me, or because they tempt me too much to argue. Which is an indulgence I’m trying to wean myself from. Attention is a valuable and limited resource.

  • April 26, 2009

    I’m with @richrecruiter, @VictorMilan, @WendyMerritt & @bambooforest in regards to the idea of following everyone that follows you.

    When someone follows me that is following only a few, I am happy about that, because it means that they’re actually interested in my tweets. I don’t want to be disingenuous in following them and everyone else back, when I’ll most likely never read much of anything they tweet. I just don’t understand how vanquishing someone to the “All” category in TweetDeck helps you grow relationships with anyone. Whether or not I’m following them back, if they “@” me, I respond back. These discussions have developed into more of a relationship and if this happens a lot with someone, I tend to start following them too.

    Also, I’m with @belldeblue, I like to be able to follow my Twitter feed with my phone and once you get above a certain level of people you are following, this becomes impossible.

  • April 26, 2009

    Ok there is one thing that many of you are overlooking here. If you’re following someone and they are not following, they you can not exchange DM’s. I had a women last night follow me to send a private DM and then unfollow me so I was not able to respond back. I could not respond publicly for the sensitivity of the subject. This kind of practice upsets me more than anything. If someone sends you a DM you should have the right to send a DM back. I’ve coined this activity as ‘DM Door Slamming’. I find it very offensive.

  • April 26, 2009

    I love Tweetdeck for this purpose (and a few others). I don’t agree with those who think it is disingenuous to follow a lot of people and then regulate them to All Friends on Tweetdeck. Maybe this would be the case if you ignored those people, but I always watch the latest Tweets in this column and sometimes find people to engage with and add to my favorites column. If I wasn’t following them in the first place, this could not happen.

    My situation was a little unique when I started using Twitter. I didn’t have any friends who were already using it. Through the last few months I have started some great friendships and networked with a bunch of great people on Twitter. Tweetdeck and following a lot of people have helped make this possible.

    One thing I always do on Tweetdeck is add people who interact with me to my favorites column so I can get to know them a little better. Without Tweetdeck, it would be very hard to do this with new people on a regular basis.

  • April 26, 2009
    PedanticKarl
    @PedanticKarl

    Hello Skellie,
    Nice article, not sure I agree in the way that I use Twitter.
    Check spelling error at first bullet, first sentence;
    “… when I want from following 200 people …”
    s/b went

  • April 26, 2009

    Everybody seems to be using the term ‘filtering’ in regards to TweetDeck. Of course that does sound offensive, to follow someone with the likelihood of ignoring them. I do not use TweetDeck to filter out any tweets. I use TweetDeck to organize the tweets of people I am following. Every person I follow ends up in an appropriate category, so no one ends up only in the ALL column. With each followed person well categorized, I am able to quickly scan and digest incoming tweets, according to the probable content.

    Since I generally do not miss any tweets, I do not call this filtering. I call it organization.

  • April 26, 2009

    I follow most people back that follow me, and I love my Tweetdeck groups. I get to everyone who I really want to know what they are saying and keep an eye on all of the other people I am still interested in. I do not only pay attention to my groups, so I think the argument that why bother following everyone is nil. I look at my groups as my friends and the other people as aquaintences. Just because you are not my “friend” doesn’t mean I don’t want to catch up with you from time to time. I find I need to restart my Tweetdeck once a day or I start to get the mac spinning beach ball.

  • April 26, 2009

    @ richrecruiter & Andreas Nurbo & Captain Jack, bambooforest, etc.

    I *don’t* ignore my ‘All Friends’ stream, in fact, I look at it a lot more often than my ‘Listen Closely’ group because it updates more often. I regularly have great conversations with people who are in my ‘All Friends’ list only. This method is not about ignoring anyone – you don’t follow people just to make them think you’re listening. You follow and then you actually listen and engage with them.

    You have every right not to follow everyone back if it’s not for you, but I have to set straight the assumption being made that you should follow people and ignore them, or that you should only engage with your filtered tweets. It’s just not true and against the spirit of this article.

  • April 26, 2009

    Twitter life became so easy once I learned how to sort peeps using TweetDeck. Now I’m using Twitter much more efficiently simply by scanning the columns.

  • April 26, 2009

    I just wrote a post that talks about all this mass following stuff and value vs. numbers. If you talk to me or create some sort of personal interaction I’m likely to check you out and follow you back. But if you just followed me hoping that I’d follow you back only so you could promote something I have absolutely no interest in, you won’t make any progress with me. At least put in a little effort to make me think you’re actually interested in me or what I have to say. I’m not terribly picky about who I follow but again, you need to interact with me in some way or we have no “social” experience.

    I can somewhat agree with “you have the opportunity to turn them into a fan” but the opportunity is small if their whole point is only to spam you or to sell you something you have no interest in. I agree with what others are saying, they’re likely tuning me out in some form or another because all they care about is getting a cold sale out of me.

  • April 26, 2009

    Hi great Darren,
    thanks for posting this interesting article, though two key points must be touched upon, since no-one has gotten to them yet:

    1) Tweetdeck DOES NOT yet allow you to save your Groups and their members. So if you change computer, switch to your desktop or reformat, you lose forever your selected group.
    I wish I’d know of a tool that would allow me to save LOCALLY my selected groups of friends.

    2) Maki has written a piece that is, in my humble opinion, a great equalizer to what is being stated here. Having a great number of followers, may not be your best strategy at all, if you start thinking a bit differently than the mass. Check it out: http://www.doshdosh.com/twitter-marketing-mass-follow-users/

    Thanks for sharing Darren!

  • April 26, 2009

    I agree with Captain Jack’s sentiments.

    Regarding follow backs, I still believe it’s a courtesy to follow-back someone who first followed you, but it’s still a prerogative, Oprah isn’t following back anybody :)

  • April 26, 2009

    I have been using Tweetdeck to keep a ‘follow closely’ list ever since I crossed 100 followers and realized I was missing important tweets. I also have several search columns for keywords that are relavant to me. This keeps me abreast of industry news and constantly introduces me to interesting people to follow.

  • April 26, 2009

    I have been using tweetizen.com because I can get to it from any computer and I don’t have to download any software. It has grouping and seems to be adding features.

  • April 27, 2009

    No matter how many times I try Tweetdeck, I just can’t get into it. I find it a cluttered, counterintuitive interface compared to the Web experience as augmented by the PowerTwitter add-on. There is another strategy I use for managing followers. I have some followers whom I follow back as a courtesy or to expand my universe of contacts. I enjoy seeing their occasional notes but don’t need to see everything they post. There’s a much smaller group whose tweets I never want to miss. For the latter group, I simply subscribe to the RSS feed of their tweets in Google Reader. That way, the tweets from that select group show up intermingled with posts from blogs I read and other sources of news I monitor regularly.

  • April 27, 2009

    I have to agree that TweetDeck is great for keeping track of the tweets. I have created a variety of groups and go through them every day.

    I wish there was a way to have multiple accounts on TweetDeck.

    Happy Tweeting.

  • April 27, 2009

    tweetdeck is great for that reason. I rarely look at the all tweets column now. Its all about the groups and searches. Also I have heard a lot about friendfeed being even better for sorting all of this clutter out. I haven’t got into it to much but from what I hear its the way to go if you spend the time to figure it out.

  • April 27, 2009

    The group feature of TweetDeck is a great tool but I would have a hard time following those following hundreds of people yet they have few, or even zero, updates, no picture or info.

    I’m also having a hard time understanding why follow everyone wouldn’t water down my account. If my niche is wrestling for example, what do I gain by following those involved in Gay Rights or the Environment. I’m not saying they can’t be friends, I’m speaking purely in a marketing standpoint. I guess my old school way of thinking is getting in the way. I’ve always considered a target market the only effective market.

    One more question. Can we really develop online relationships with thousands of people that we have nothing in common with? I’m certainly not a Twitter expert, I’m still learning.

  • April 27, 2009

    This advice certainly flies in the face of current research. If we follow indiscriminately, simply adding friends because they want to follow us, we obviate the core purpose of social networking. I doubt many of us have 30,000 close friends or conduct calls with 30,000 listeners. Oprah may have a half-million Twitter friends, but she talks to less than a dozen of them.

    As a previous commentator pointed out, the very nature of a tutorial on grouping Twitter followers clearly indicates some of your followers won’t be heard. Now when someone comes up with instructions how to listen to 500,000 followers and provide anything more than robotic answers, I’ll be all ears.

  • April 27, 2009

    @ED, I agree with you on many of your points.
    @everyone,
    Really, can we respond to 500,000 people? Only as a broadcast and selectively responding. Interestingly I have almost 3,000 followers and yet I get only about 12 messages a day. When I actively tweet I get 100’s of messages. I wish I could communicate to 500k people. Why? well I learn a lot from the people around me. I can ask a question and get answers rather quickly. Twitter out preforms my website in getting answers to my questions. That said, at times I wish my questions could make it to the people that have the answers. Twitter fails to give you a method of connecting to people that have answers to your questions. Following like interest fails. For example I’m the guy to speak to for sales and marketing questions for I’ve worked in the field for 22 years. But if you look at my profile and photo you see I’m a Captain and you would never guess that I have working in sales and marketing. So this concept of following or not following on twitter is a failed system. It’s like owning a great car but no gas to make it go, but you still can sit in it and listen to the tunes.
    What needs to be created is a system that matches up people. Kind of like an online dating service. You would fill out your profile (might take awhile) and the computer matches you up with thousands of people. You follow them automatically. Then when I want to talk to someone about how to land a Lear Jet that person will get a tweet that someone asked a question or statement about Lear Jets. You can also put in your profile of things you are not interested in like MLM, Politics, etc. You still could make a list of people you have very little in common but enjoy tweeting or needs to keep in contact to each other. Sort of like following family members. You know the in-laws. You have to keep in contact but really don’t care what they have to say. Well I guess email might be best suited for that. ;-)
    Secondly I think this public display of how many followers a person has needs to be removed. This information should only be available to the individual. This would slow down the game of ‘Look how many people are following me! I’m a celebrity!” What should be made public is there twitter influence. Celebrities make it to the top of the list for the number of followers not for the quality of their influence. Since they make it to the top of most lists they generate even more followers. People that have the most to contribute to the masses should be on the top of these lists. http://twitalyzer.com is one of my favorite influence trackers. It does a good job (though not perfect) of displaying people that contribute much to twitter. I’ve seen people with around 10,000 followers score hire than ones that have 200,000 followers.

    So I ask you all what are your thoughts on my ideas and comments?

    Captain Jack
    ____/)_____*_____

  • April 27, 2009

    This is a great idea. I have not used Tweetdeck yet but am going to!! I kind of let Twitter go for awhile and discovered something… I cannot manage 1-20 networking sites. Staying focused on one or 2 would be better. I have saved your post to reread!! Thanks!
    By the way, my twitter id will be changing to SDpro62

  • April 27, 2009

    Perfect quality post! Skelliewag’s great writer.

  • April 27, 2009

    This is something I’m really torn on. I KNOW people getting their feelings hurt when I don’t follow them back, and honestly that kill me (and hurts my personal brand to be honest!)

    BUT at the same time I’m not willing to fill my tweet stream with junk to appease a few people, and miss out on the experience of keeping up with people. There’s a massive problem with this solution, which is that tweetdeck doesn’t have a very long timeline at all. I know there’s a setting that says it can store 500 tweets but for me anyway there is never more than a few hours back showing up for the groups I have set up.

    The thing is I probably do have mutual interests in most of the people that follow me and would enjoy following them back. The problem is that so many people now use twitter as a numbers game, only following to increase their own numbers. And even if I could somehow filter everyone who was genuinely interested in forming a relationship with me I’d still be left with waaaay more people than I could handle, thereby spoiling the whole experience of twitter.

  • April 27, 2009

    @Captain Jack: Yes, some sort of Twitter channels where you could subscribe for marketing (or movies, or whatever) would improve on the current mishmash.

    @Laura: Twitter has become a numbers game. Followers do not equate to influence. Unlike blogs, where more subscribers directly equate to higher advertising fees, Twitter has two main purposes: for idle chatter or building/increasing influence. Not even the best texters can follow more than 10 simultaneous conversations and studies repeatedly show blind following dilutes your influence. Better is to intelligently follow those Twitter users that have an interest in your product or who has more influence than you, thus increasing your own ability to influence. But better yet would be to offer content, offer tweets that provide answers or build trust, thus *attracting* followers.

  • April 27, 2009

    Really good tips for me.Follow back is a good way to build a strong ralationship

  • April 27, 2009

    You make some interesting points, particularly about TweetDeck – the groups and search features are amazingly useful.

    But if we assume that “People feel more positively towards you when you follow them”, we are also assuming that nobody expects you to follow everyone back. If this philosophy caught on, everyone would develop a sense of entitlement, and the whole experience would be cheapened. Worse still, people at the edges might become lazy, and participate less because it is easy to get followers when all you have to do is follow someone else.

  • April 27, 2009

    The Seesmic desktop app gives you quick and very controlled use of groups – but the nice thing is that you can set notifications differently for all tweets/friend tweets/search results etc…

    So you can make groups just as easily as with Tweetdeck, but also have some control over how many growl popups appear on your screen daily.

    AB

  • April 27, 2009

    I think that everyone suggesting that you will be “completely ignoring” those not added to a group are missing the point.

    I don’t monitor everyone’s tweets 24/7, but dip in and out as I’m available. However, it’s still good to have access to the tweets of people I’m really interested in (close friends, business partners etc) and hence they can be placed in a group which can be checked separately. Yes, I could also do this via RSS or visiting their Twitter pages directly, but it’s less convenient for the way I work.

    I don’t ignore the other people I follow by doing this – I just don’t hang on their every bit of conversation.

    Consider a flawed but approximate real (physical) world example. I might have a close friend that I want to catch up with all their news every time I see / phone them, even though I’m not with them 24/7. I might also have a more superficial (but not totally insignificant / irrelevant) relationship with the guy who runs the corner shop. I don’t necessarily want to know *everything* about him, but neither do I completely ignore him. I see and communicate with him less than my close friend, but I haven’t been disingenuous by communicating with him.

    Not a perfect RL example, but you get the idea I’m sure.

  • April 27, 2009

    Those who follow all back are like e-mail list builders of old which is one way to relate to Twitter marketing. Sadly, it relies on an outside clients like Tweetdeck. Still, the ultimate goal is your voice going out (broadcast) and not *reading* other tweets. Most average consumers will not adopt the mass follow style because they relate to DM’s as e-mail and many find too much DM as spam. I find my method of *not* following all back (but following many esp. those who I can actually meet in real life) to be best for me as a marketer on Twitter. But, wow, what’s the definition of marketing on Twitter these days… yikes!

  • April 28, 2009

    This method using Tweetdeck is great if you never plan on following people on other devices. For example, lets say I like keeping track of twit people on the iPhone, using an app – not device updates. With 2000+ followers and no way to filter the important users, I’m out of luck.

    Unless someone knows of a trick for this scenario I haven’t found yet.

  • April 28, 2009

    Skellie, I agree. In fact I’m going to go re-follow you now. The last time I did (and tried to engage in conversation with you) I didn’t get anything back and got the impression that you weren’t interested in connecting. I guess I didn’t want to just be a minion ;)

    So glad you changed your mind cos you really are one cool chick!

    The ONLY times I don’t follow people back are when I see they aren’t engaging with other twitterers (ie, not making conversation – just posting link after link to their blog/product etc) or don’t have a picture/bio up.

    The rest of the time, it’s great and you never know who you meet!

  • April 28, 2009

    I don’ think I can agree with you. You are right, you will get a massive following, and meet some great people. That is something I enjoy about twitter. But you are just ego boosting. You are just building a massive group of people you don’t listen to or take no interest in, and the more you add the more unlikely it will be you will find someone you really like.

    Personally I would rather only people follow me because they are interested in me (not that I am interesting in any way), rather that just add me because they want a follow in return. Though I do read through my followers tweets, and if they are interesting to me I will follow them back. Then I will follow people I find interesting, not expecting them to take interest in me.

    But a great post :)

  • April 29, 2009

    It would be cool to filter out all Tweets that match certain strings like all the tweets from someones GPS and other things I don’t care about. I’m only following 7 people (friends in real life) and out of several pages flooded with GPS locations and what game they are playing, there is only a very very few personal tweets they have made.

  • May 1, 2009

    First of all, I like the post very much Skellie!
    Depending on your business and the reasons why you are using twitter it can be crucial to get as many followers as possible. So in our case, as we are a start-up company and like to spread the word prior to our launch. In the end we need to ask ourselves what does it mean “quality follower”? Anyone can spread the word for you if the person is intersted in what you’re doing, saying or selling! :) Therefore, the more followers the better. Here is a link to an interesting article written by Guy Kawasaki http://tinyurl.com/5vvd5u

    Happy Tweets

  • May 5, 2009

    @skellie I appreciated your post @problogger blog. http://tinyurl.com/ctomxs Got a few great nuances to help with Tweetdeck.

  • May 6, 2009

    Its more like giving us a reason to fallow all this people thta fallow us, for instacen juts imagine a user that have like 2.000 fallowers that will be a complete mes if he decide to fallow all doze peoples and for course you will never be at time to read all doze post that they did no matter which program they use for that.

    Its hard to fallow only 200 know, so just imagine fallowing more than that.

    Than you for the post.

  • May 26, 2009

    I wont follow someone if I know that it is just a spammer.

  • July 22, 2009

    Great article for new users on twitter. Thanks for sharing.

    I have added posting on twitter to the job description of three office assistants at Ellen Clothing Manufacturer and I will let them know about the positives of following everyone back.

  • November 17, 2009

    Following everyone reduces the quality of your followers. People who follow everyone don’t actually read all their followings, they are just trying to get their message out. If you only follow the few you want, the people who don’t really care what you have to say will stop following you and you will increase your followers quality.

    On another note, engaging with your followers is important.

  • December 16, 2009

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • December 20, 2009

    Well I Will Always Follow Back, Not Just Out Of Kindness. I Really Do Love Tweeting And It Is What It’s All About!

    I Honastly Love Finding Out About The World!
    So Follow Me Now, As I’ll Follow You Back!

    http://twitter.com/PrayMaddyMcCann

    (Every Follower I Get Raises Awareness For Madeleine McCann!)

  • July 8, 2010

    What a good post, it shows how easy it can be to gain followers. The biggest problem i see with alot of people is they add whoever and then it isnt fun anymore.

  • July 9, 2010

    People, please understand something. How are you going to find the best people to follow back? You have just follow as many as you can and hope they read what you have said and they follow you back. It’s a numbers game. I find lists of people to follow. I follow everyone on this list. From that, I have found quality “Friends” that have been a great value “and even changed my life”. I get new ones every single week. The best part is I can ask a question and get a few answers. Perfect!

    Yes, many of my followers are just marketers. Oh well! They at least make my following numbers more attractive. They try to use me and I use them. It’s working for me.

    I do un-follow people who don’t follow back. Here’s why, if you don’t care to follow me back then I’m just a fan of you. I have friends not fans. Friends follow each other back. The other benefit is we can DM each other for private messages. I hate not being able to DM someone. Of course there are exceptions to my rule. News feeds don’t need to follow me back.

    So what kind of followers do I have. Well I have people that work directly under the president of the United States as well as Millionaires, Firefighters, Police, Coast Guard, Navy, Army, Marines, Merchant Marines (commercial people), Bankers, Designers, Rap Artists, Farmers, Travel Agents, Movie Stars, TV Stars, Plumbers, TV new anchors, Web App coders, Escorts, Comedians, Pilots, Merchants, oh and I can go on and on. Jee, now that I think about it, OMG! I tweet to a lot of people. I really never realized this until just now! This is just unbelievable!

    So look at my twitter account and read my posts for at least a week. See the conversations I have. It’s summer time as I write this so I’m rather busy will little time to tweet. But I do respond to just about everyone who tweets me with a question or comment. My account is proof positive that my technique works. I’m nobody super famous. I’m just a boat driver and instructor.

    Captain Jack

  • July 17, 2010

    Great post man.I retweeted it

  • December 20, 2010

    I am not sure I have figured out this whole twitter thing yet.

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