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Twitter Dilemma

Posted: June 1st, 2011, 10:37 pm
by HumorWriter0910
Here's a Twitter dilemma I'd like to pose to all of you:

Is it ever cool just to follow a ton of people (like thousands) and hope that a modest percentage follow you back, thereby gaining you a healthy following in relative short order?

My opinion always (which here means "since November") has been that this is pretty lame. If I look at someone's profile and see that she/he is following 5,000 people while having only 500 followers of her/his own, I'm automatically skeptical of what I'll find there.

Now, to their credit, people who do this did inspire a tweet for my @KnowWhosAwesome feed (as in a sarcastic "You know who's awesome?"). The response in this case was: "Twitter sluts. Sure, following everyone you can is the easiest way to get love back. But do you even know my name? Huh? Do you?"

But am I being unfair? If so, I'd like to know, because I'm really focused on building the following for this feed, and I can only wear the t-shirt I had made to promote it so many times before my wife tells me it needs to hit the washer.

What do you all think? Can you be a little "loose" and still end up in a healthy Tweeting relationship?

Re: Twitter Dilemma

Posted: June 2nd, 2011, 12:00 am
by Mark17
I've actually worried about this. I probably follow three or four times as many people than I have followers. But it's not a matter of wanting the followers back, it's every day I see ten more people that I want to follow. It's so easy. You just press a button. Then someone goes to your page and sees your following hundreds more than follow you and it makes you look bad. No one wants to be a promiscuous follower, but there are so many attractive accounts out there. I want to follow a thousand twitterers. But people will judge.... Oh the societal pressures of the internet age.

Re: Twitter Dilemma

Posted: June 2nd, 2011, 8:35 pm
by maybegenius
It's actually not a very good idea. Following many (thousands) of people in a short amount of time is an excellent way to be flagged as a spammer or bot, and to have your account deleted. Here are their Following Rules, which everyone who's looking for followers should read. A lot of Twitter users will check out their new followers, and most people who see people with hugely disproportionate following-vs-follower numbers (they're following waaaaaay more people than are following them) will generally not follow back, because they know you're just looking for follow-backs. They might also block you. If you receive enough blocks, your account will be flagged. You'll be dinged extra if you're also routinely UNfollowing a lot of people.

There are a number of methods for increasing follower count. It's not recommended to use automated methods (a program that's set up to follow/unfollow users for you so you don't have to do it by hand), but if used carefully and appropriately, they can be useful. Appropriate use for automated follower programs: TARGET specific followers by interest/location/etc., don't just spam follow everyone you can find, and keep your follow/unfollow numbers low (100-200 or so per day, if that).

People look for users who either have a lot more follower numbers than following numbers (which makes them feel like you must be awesome if so many people are following you without follow-backs), or people with similar following/follower numbers, because it means you follow back AND people find YOU interesting enough to follow back.

There are some tactics you can use to make your account more appealing so people are more likely to take the time to check you out and don't automatically write you off as a spammer. If possible, upload a custom background (but not a cheap-looking one). Make sure you have an avatar (you should NEVER use the Twitter-provided egg avatar). A picture of your face is the best choice, because people will view you as a person and not a faceless internet account. You don't have to list your exact location, but you should put something, like "Colorado" or "United Kingdom." Fill out your profile, and make it interesting and give people a little taste of who you are. DON'T be salesy or refer to yourself in hyperbole, like saying you're a "guru" or a "writing professional" or something. Instant turnoff. If you have a website, include it. After all that, make sure you're tweeting at least several times a week (preferably 3-5 times a day). Don't go overboard. Most people don't like 100 tweets from one person clogging up their feed every day. Try for a good mix of interesting, sharing, entertaining, and conversational.

All these things will make people more likely to follow you back. It's not easy, and it takes work, but this will increase the odds of your numbers. It's also really, really important to not use Twitter to only talk about yourself. You really MUST engage with other Twitter users, unless you are SO clever/funny/unique/famous that you can get away with people just eating up your genius tweets.

Okay, now that I've written you an essay, I'll just say that none of this means you SHOULDN'T follow people, because you absolutely should. It WILL increase your follower numbers, but only by a "return" of about 3-10%, depending on how attractive your account is to others. You'll actually end up with more followers from linking your Twitter everywhere (blog, website, forum signature), posting engaging content, and participating in conversations.

If you're REALLY desperate, there ARE services that allow you to "buy" followers, but I don't really recommend it. It'll make your numbers look good, thus maybe piquing more interest in your account when people look at it, but it's not likely any of those bought followers are going to care about you.

/takes off Internet Marketing hat

Sorry for the super-long post!

Re: Twitter Dilemma

Posted: June 3rd, 2011, 9:25 am
by HumorWriter0910
This is great; thanks for all your thoughts. One challenge I have with the @KnowWhosAwesome feed is that I can't really break character, so to speak, to tweet at someone. The way I work around this to thank people for Follow Friday mentions, etc. is through direct messaging.

Re: Twitter Dilemma

Posted: June 3rd, 2011, 1:13 pm
by Sommer Leigh
I think it comes down to, "What do you want out of Twitter?" Some people want to sell something and that's all they tweet about, so having several thousand people that they follow in hopes that some of htem will follow back is all they are looking for.

Me personally, I want to have conversations and keep up on specific people because I like them, I think they are interesting, they have a lot of unique things to say, they are my friends, or they make me laugh a whole lot. But to have this level of interaction, I don't want hundreds or thousands of followers. How would I ever be able to keep up with them all? I like my 50-60 followers that I talk to on a regular basis.

Although I think following thousands of people in hopes that a quarter of them will follow you back is pretty sketchy and I never follow them back.