Why I Didn't Follow You Back (A Lesson in Twitter Etiquette)

2012-Jun-2 -> from the twitter-is-my-friend department Tags: opinion twitter 

The vast majority of my marketing platform hinges on Twitter. I spend a fair amount of time tweeting and building up a quality list of followers. So it stands to reason that I would want this list to be as big as possible.

But here's the thing: I don't automatically follow back. This runs counter to most people's advice that you should follow back everyone that follows you, because it's polite, right?

I don't feel that way, and here's why...

Quality is the key

"I spend a fair amount of time tweeting and building up a quality list of followers."

I highlighted the important part of that statement to emphasize my point. I want quality followers. This means different things to different people. To me, it means someone who matches one or more of these three things:

  1. Somebody directly in my target audience.

  2. Somebody who is already my friend on another platform.

  3. Somebody who is actively engaging me.

This is not to say that all the lovely people who follow me aren't quality people, but if you don't match one of those three criteria, you aren't adding value to my platform.

I'm first and foremost a sales person. I need active, engaged followers to help me spread the word about my product, which happens to be my book. Many of my followers do help me spread the word, and I truly appreciate everything they do for me.

Who I Follow

In general, I will follow anyone who matches one of the above criteria. I'm looking to add value to my experience. I'm looking to sell books, and get the word out about my work. People who match those criteria are the most likely to help me accomplish that goal.

What good is having 200,000 followers if none of them care about what you tweet?

Who I Don't Follow

In general, if you follow me expecting a follow-back, you must do something to engage me. Heck, say "hi", check out my website, find something interesting about me and tweet about it. In my opinion, expecting somebody to follow you back just because you followed them is pretentious.

If you do nothing but spam, or if your follower to following ratio is all out of whack, there is a good chance that I will not follow back.

The Numbers Matter

There is a special ratio in twitter between following and followers. Once you hit 2000 followers, Twitter will not let you follow more than 10% more than your follower count. Thus, if you have 2000 followers, you can not follow more than 2200 people. They limit it in this way for a very good reason.

If you are following drastically more people than are following you (I'm talking in the thousands), then chances are good you're building up a large number of followers for the purposes of spamming them. Twitter limits the impact of this kind of campaign by enforcing the 10% rule.

I research every single person that I follow on twitter. At the time of writing this, I follow 1119 people. I looked at every profile, checked out websites, and read tweets from every one of these people. Sometimes I even check out their books, if they're authors, and very occasionally I buy them. I want people to be of value to me, and I want to be of value to other people. Why follow somebody who doesn't fill either requirement?

There Is Hope!

If you really want me to follow you, try introducing yourself to me. Show me that you care about the people you follow by sparing me at least 140 characters (less my twitter name of course) to let me know what kind of value you can add. You never know, maybe we could be friends, or maybe I could do something that could add value to your twitter experience.

I love talking to new and interesting people and making new friends. Heck, I've already made some great friends on Twitter, and am looking forward to making many more!

Here are a number of things that you can do that will almost certainly get you an instant followback:

  • Be interesting. I like interesting people. I like people who talk to me and tweet about interesting things. If I find you interesting, I'll check out your profile, your website, your books, and might even buy something from you.

  • Buy my book. Yeah, I know, this is a stretch. But if I know you've bought my book and are planning on reading it, reviewing it, or helping me promote it, this will thrill me. I have a few twitter followers who do just that, and I truly appreciate what these people do.

  • Help promote my book or my blog. Doing this will get my attention in a big way. I love it when people tweet about my book or blog, or retweet what I post about them.

  • Be part of my target audience. My target audience being people like me. Not authors, but gamers. People who play RPGs and card games, and people who play other types of fantasy games.

Social networking is about being social. It's not about selling stuff or who can gain the most followers. I do my best to give my followers a quality experience, and I hope that after reading this, you will too.


Thanks for reading!

I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.

Don't forget to join in on the conversation in the comments section below.

1 Comment:


By Aubrey Hansen on Mon 4 Jun 2012 11:04:56 am [ Reply ] Great requirements! I tend to be more liberal with whom I follow back, but I do not follow people who swear/discuss adult subjects, and I do not follow most people whose streams consist entirely of links. I want to talk to real people, so if you seem like a decent person, I'll follow you.

Regardless, I'm honored to be on your followers list and enjoy your tweets very much. :)

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