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How I Follow Back on Twitter


come in, we follow back

I like to follow back Twitter users who follow me. While some follow back everyone, I utilize a “quick scan” method to decide.

In all, it takes 5-10 seconds per user. So in a sense, it’s like the phenomenon Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book “Blink.” Here’s what I’m processing during those few seconds.

1) Scan the bio

The Twitter bio is the first thing I scan. Claiming to get me new followers or Facebook Likes at low or no cost? Sorry, but you’re ruled out. Next, I look for the following:

  1. You’re doing something interesting (launching a new business, writing a new book, etc.).
  2. We have shared interests (content marketing, social media, sports, etc.).
  3. You use humor. A creative one-liner tends to hook me.
  4. You have an interesting profile photo or background image.

2) Quick check of tweet count, followers, following

I prefer real people who gained a following organically (i.e. by sharing useful information). Some profiles make me suspicious. When a user has 50 tweets, follows 100,000 people and has 109,000 followers, I wonder.

I still may follow that user, but the rest of my scan happens with “suspicion filter activated.” Side note with a twist of vanity: if a user has lots of followers, follows few, but decides to follow me, that makes me feel useful.

3) Quick check of Favorites and Lists

comparing Twitter profiles

Some brands (and some people) use Twitter as a megaphone: they’re here to share their content in a one-way manner. They don’t RT, favorite tweets, reply to tweets or curate Twitter Lists. I like to follow people who use Twitter in a two-way fashion. People who will banter back and forth with me.

4) Scan recent tweets

This one carries far higher weight than all the others. I scan the most recent 10+ tweets to see if they interest me. I want to see some original content and commentary, so users who RT 100% of the time are a turn-off (sorry).

I ask myself, “If I saw this user’s tweets in my stream, would I click on some of these links?” If I get a few “yes” answers, I’ll tend to follow back.

How About You?

What is your Twitter “follow style?” Are you:

  1. Exclusive: you follow back very few users
  2. Joy to All: you follow back everyone
  3. None of the Above: you have a unique style to following back

Share your style in the Comments section below.

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