In the last installment, I covered the basics of reading a Twitter timeline. Things like making sure you see two-way communication. The importance of taglines. Translating pages before you follow accounts that are tweeting in a language you aren’t conversant in.
Today, I’ll tell you how I use the Following/Follow ratio to make decisions about whether to follow or not. Keep in mind that I am not an expert – I don’t really know what I am doing, I am just sharing what’s worked for me.
You follow people, and people follow you. If you look at your timeline, you’ll see numbers that tell you how many people you are following, and how many followers you have. These numbers have a relationship. You should look at them as a ratio. Here are the following/follower ratios I see most often, and the conclusions I draw from them.
- A near-even ratio, with followers in the hundreds or more: Someone who follows for followbacks, which means there’s a good chance they’ll follow me if I follow first. I take the bet, and I usually gain a follower.
- Following way more than they follow (Say, Following 800, with 150 followers). Possibly a spam account, more likely someone who uses twitter casually with a few friends and follows people they just like to keep up with. The timeline usually tells. In either case, I don’t follow unless we share an interest.
- Following an extremely large number and only a few followers (following 350-2000, with only a few dozen followers). Possibly someone just getting started and went crazy with follows. The higher the “Following” in proportion to the “Followers,” and the longer the account’s been tweeting, the more likely it’s a spam account. Check the timeline, err on the side of caution.
- Following a small number (a few dozen to a few hundred), with a large number of followers. Unless it’s an account that should generate a lot of organic growth (like a celebrity or a big company), probably someone following people until they follow back and then unfollowing on a schedule. Maybe an automated account. I usually block these accounts, especially if I follow back and they unfollow me a week later.
- I don’t rule out an account because it has a lot more followers than it’s following. I tweet with a couple of bloggers who have managed to gain respectable Twitter followings, but who follow a small number of people. They favorite my tweets. I send them shoutouts. It’s cool, and I’m honored to be in such good company. But as a general rule, the greater the difference, the more skeptical I am, and I don’t follow accounts with big follower/following differentials unless I’ve interacted with them on other social media or unless they follow me first.
These are things you can do to increase the chances that the people you follow will follow you back
- Follow from lists, but not indiscriminately. Follow people who share your interests, or have the right ratios. Give them 10 days. Some people only Tweet on the weekends.
- Pay attention to Follow Fridays, and send Follow Friday Tweets of your own.
- If one of your followers includes you in a Follow Friday, or a shoutout, or just a plain old #Follow tweet with accounts you’ve never seen before, look at the accounts you’ve been placed in company with. Especially if the person who sent the Tweet has a larger following than you. When this happens, most likely, someone’s trying to introduce you to their network. Follow the ones you like and see what happens. I regularly gain 30-50 followers on Fridays, just by following people I’m included in Follow Fridays with.
- If you have a close friend or relative who you tweet with often, especially if they seem to know what they’re doing, follow their followers.
- Create lists and put people you interact regularly with on them. I may do a post about lists at some point. Lists make life easier. Learn to use them.
That’s all the advice I have for today, and it’s plenty. If you’ve read every word of this series so far and understand it, you’re good to go. Just don’t follow/unfollow too many people in a day, don’t spam, and be nice. You’ll be fine.
I’ll wrap this up on Thursday with a post on managing unfollowers. And you know, as much as I love Twitter, I’ll eventually write another Twitter series. 🙂
You can find links to the first 4 installments of this series on our Twitter for Beginners Page.