I #Follow, #F4F* and #FollowBack. They are powerful tactics for Twitter users to grow their network. Twitter is such a great place to tell people about things you are doing. It is not just a place for writers, but for people across all walks of life. You are as likely to encounter someone posting their latest cat video or apple pie recipe, as any other topic. Yet that person can be your next follower and the next avid reader of your site, if you play your cards right.
There are certainly some good practices to learn about Twitter for the blog writer. #Follow and following back are among the best.
*To let you know #F4F is a term meaning follow for followback of follow for follow. It is good Twitter etiquette to adopt and I encourage all readers to do so.
Who to #Follow?
If you are a writer, who regularly creates blog pages, you will need to use Twitter. It is a great publicity tool. With Facebook or LinkedIn most people only follow others that they know. With good reason, they are networking with their friends and colleagues. I found following those I know was never enough.
This is why I became an open-networker. That means I am open to connecting with anyone. If you use Twitter you, too, should be open to connecting with anyone. That said I do have limits, as should you. Here are the types of people you should follow:
- First and foremost people who are likely to read your blog. (Target audience).
- Those, whose opinions you admire.
- People who speak your language(s).
- Search for people.
- People with Twitter activity.
- People with a bio and picture.
- Unfollow people who don’t follow back.
What every writer wants is followers. I have more than 16,000 followers and that number grows every day.
#Follow to get Followers
It may seem perverse that you have to follow people in order to get followers, but it does work.
If you start a new Twitter account today, the system will offer to find the first hundred people for you to #follow. Generally the people it will have you follow will leaders, and famous people from your country. Following such people will give you things to see in your time-line, but those selected almost certainly never follow-back so they don’t help you grow your network. Other than providing an initial stream of tweets it is unlikely they can help your goal.
You will need to find your own followers. The first rule to gaining followers is that you must follow people to get followers. Of course other people will find you and follow you. It is good etiquette that you should generally follow them back.
Opinions you Admire
Most people admire a famous author, like Seth Godin, who has left powerful thoughts which guide people’s lives. Some of these authors are active on Twitter. but they are not the only ones you should follow. Other, ordinary people, talk about those same subjects and give good advice as well. Many will be in your industry. Many will have written about their experiences and shared them with the world. Even if you don’t know them you should follow them.
You don’t have to agree with a person to follow them, but it helps.
Generally, you should avoid following, those people whose opinions you dislike. If people post tweets about subjects you do not support then you should think about whether you should continue to follow them. This is increasingly true the more hurtful their opinions.
I only speak English, so I only follow people who post tweets in English. The reason is simple. Language is one the few limits to who I follow. Seeing a stream of tweets I can’t understand slows me down. I know I can translate it, mostly news I already knew about, regurgitated, hence not worth my time.
If you speak French, English, Dutch and Mandarin, then of course Tweets in those languages have some interest.
It is said, that Twitter’s search engine is more popular than Google. I use it most times I use Twitter.
Using Twitter search you can find topics that are of interest to you. Sometimes the results are better that available from Google. For example if your hobby is fishing then you may search with the hashtag #fishing. You may use alternatives, like #angling, or the words without the hash. Each speciality has words that people use. Searches allow you to find other people having similar interests. Following those with important things to say is the logical next step.
If you find a tweet you like then ‘Like’ or ‘Retweet’ it, this is a way to gain approval from the originator. If it has links on the tweet, then click on it and read their stuff. It is always good for bloggers to know other bloggers. Perhaps they may link you to a professional journal you did not know existed.
I search for new people to follow daily. Remembering the name of someone I worked with will cause me to search for them. I search for topics that interest me as well. This allows me to follow active people.
Follow People who are Active
#Follow only active people. How can you tell they are active?
Active people create Tweets most days at least, (remember most people take some days off). Use search to find people discussing a particular topic. Ignore the “Most Popular” tab, these are often promoted tweets. The “Latest” tab will show the most recent tweets on the subject of your search. Sometimes this will highlight spammers, e.g. where all the tweets on the page are by the same person. Most of the time you will find people with interesting things to say. These are the people you need to consider following.
Tip: Retweeting posts you like can also get you followers. Not only is the originator likely to follow-back, but others in their circle are likely to follow as well.
The “People” tab will show the most recent people who have tweeted on this subject.
It may seem a small thing, but one of the most important rules on Twitter is not to follow people who don’t have either a bio or a picture displayed with posts. It may seem a small thing, but it is important. I will turn it around — it is a small thing, so create you biography and include a picture that is personal.
The Bio shows you care, it shows people some of the key subjects that matter to you. Use hashtags for your main interests, that way you will appear in search results. It is 160 characters that can matter so much to your followers, it allows them to gauge if you are the type of person they should follow. Two hashtags worth searching for are #follow and #followback
A special note about pictures. The Twitter default is the worst picture you could use. Some religions oppose the use of personal pictures, for a variety of reasons. I didn’t say the image must be you, but the image should represent you. One person I know, once used a mountain goat as their image. They saw it as a rugged durable animal, qualities they wished to portray in their profile. The picture is another way of presenting yourself. Your closest connections will often know you from your image.
No #Follow Back
The plague of the Internet are those who don’t follow back. These are people who don’t seem to understand the etiquette involved in the act of following. There are four types that don’t follow back:
- Celebrates (Stars, Sports stars, Politicians etc.).
- Social Media superstars, like Guy Kawasaki, they are well known and get a massive following
- Large corporations
- Those who cynically use their networks.
For the first three categories it is understandable why they don’t follow random strangers. Many stars have stalkers through social media, naturally they would not follow those people back. They enjoy having followers but don’t know who will become a stalker in the future.
Companies should know better. Sadly, many brand managers think about traditional branding techniques and do not see the value of interaction.
Cynical Network Users
The fourth class is of most concern. These are, cynical network users. It is their intent to have you follow them, but they don’t wish to follow anyone. They have little regard for others. Their tactic is not about engaging their network, simply using it as a publicity tool. They are cynical network users because they don;t care about you or your thoughts. They simply wish to use you. Their only reason to follow you in the first place is to have you follow them. To these people their only interest is getting you to read their information. There is no such thing as reciprocation for them.
If you know anything about networking then you, like me, will not approve of cynical network users, those who are interested in one thing. Their own self-interest.
We are all motivated to some extent by self-interest, but this functions on an entirely different level.
Follow then Unfollow
At one time Twitter had limits to the number of people you could follow. Because of this some users developed a tactic to get around it. They would follow a set number, say 100, then a week or two later they would stop following those people, then follow another 100 people. Of the 100 they followed 35 might follow back. The tactic was re-used, over and over again to build a massive list of followers to broadcast to.
Twitter has changed the rules, but many of these people still follow the same tactic today as a way of building their own following.
When you follow others on Twitter the number of followers should be similar to the number being followed, as shown in the image to the left. Irrespective of how many followers you have, you are likely to follow a few more than follow you. The reason is simple, you are always looking for people to follow. Generally though the count is even.
If a user’s followers/following profile looks like the picture on the right then you should not follow them.
The second example is clearly a user that is not interested in what other people have to say. They are only interested in telling the world things. As explained later, even if I followed this person I would soon stop following.
Manage who you Follow
Every few days you should be on the lookout for people who stop following you. These are the broadcasters in your network. There is one simple reason to cut this type of dead wood from your network, and you can look at this from questioning how they can help you.
There is only one way they can help you is by providing information you need. Otherwise they are dead wood, that you don’t need to carry around. Do you need them in your network?
There are several tools and apps available and you should use them every few days to remove those who stopped following you. Unfollowspy.com is perhaps the best tools available. Go to the website, then sign in with Twitter. Under Twitter Features you will see a function called “Not Followback”, as shown in the picture. I go to this page every day or two and remove 50 of the people who have stopped following me.
Tip: Don’t try to remove too many people as you may get your account suspended. 45 to 50 seems an optimum number of people to stop following in one day.
I guarantee that you have seen this (or something similar) on a person’s Twitter Bio:
“Want to know how experts get 12,000 followers in 1 week? This website can help you achieve it.”
It may also say “Buy 5,000 visitors for $29”. These ads are not to be believed.
Truth is you cannot buy any followers that are worthwhile having. There are two things to note from this picture, first this person has used Twitter for two years and second they only have 32 followers. Clearly the system doesn’t work.
Young trendy popstars, like Zara Larsson, or Shawn Mendes may get thousands of followers every day. Especially when they release their latest hit, but most of the rest of the world do not. It is a fact. Growing you following requires management.
On Twitter I am @pgiblett and joined Twitter in September 2008, and you can discover that from my profile. I have a good sized following, but always wish it to grow. Every day I target growth. Yet, Growth requires:
- Every day activity.
- Search for a subject that interests you, then follow people who have recently posted.
- Follow back people who #follow you.
- Occasionally, post quotes of famous people or RT ones posted by others in your network.
- Spend time retweeting other people’s work.
- Unfollow people who unfollow you
- Stop following those who never follow back.
Watch for the Plateau
In 2015 I had grown my following, to just under 10,000. but despite everything that I did my following never grew. I did then, as I do now, follow new people daily. But the number of followers I had never increased.
Analysing those I was following and those that followed me helped me understand. Then, as now, I automated many of my tweets. But there were two crucial things happening. Firstly my tweeting activity seemed completely automated. I admit it I was going through one of those times in my life when I was focusing on self survival. It simply never occurred to me that I needed to help others to help myself.
In analysing my following I realised there were a massive number of people that I followed who never followed me, and vice versa, a massive number that I didn’t follow back. I had reached my plateau and could not grow without changing things. Cutting out dead-wood was necessary. Day by day I removed those who didn’t follow back. (Please understand that you should not unfollow more than 100 people a day, as your account will be suspended).
An Active Network
I stopped following nearly 5,000 people in about 5 months. Then I started following new people, but at the same time used tools to reciprocate “unfollow” activity. The number who don’t follow-back today is about 1.5 to 2.0%, whereas at the time it was a massive 48%.
Try an experiment. Search a topic that interests you. Find a tweet from someone you don’t follow. Retweet it. Use a quoted retweet if you wish to add a comment. Then follow them. Within a short time they will follow you back and you will attract other followers as a result. This results from an active network.
If people don’t follow you back, then stop following them, but remember it may take a couple of days to respond. People have lives to live. My routine with Unfollowspy takes care of this as I will naturally stop following them after a few weeks.
Other Tips for Twitter
A few other tips to end this exploration of Twitter and the #follow rules :
- No Tweets, no follow.
- If a user offers ways to buy users, don’t believe them, don’t follow them.
- I do not follow people who post naked (or provocative) pictures (or I unfollow them).
- If they post repulsive pictures, like warts or pimples, (or retweet them) I won’t follow.
Other Associated Articles
If you like this post then make a donation to the upkeep of GobbledeGoox as a way to thank Peter Giblett. #Follow Peter on Twitter. This has been an interesting journey, think how you can do this more. Something to contribute? Please leave a comment. The images here were either created or owned by Peter Giblett or have been sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay.
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