When you follow people on Twitter, you are doing more than just getting their tweets, you’re also sending them a note letting them know that you are interested in what they have to say. Ideally, a good percentage of them, after looking at your profile should feel the same way and return the follow.
Personally, I follow about 80% of the people who follow me. I view Twitter as a tool for conversations and, within reason, if someone is interested in hearing what I have to say, I want to listen to them as well.
However, as with most people, there are certain users I ignore or “snub” depending on your perspective. Though I’m grateful they took an interest in me, I’m not motivated to follow back. So for two weeks I kept track of the users I don’t follow and found the five most common reasons for me I don’t click the button.
Hopefully, this list will help you avoid some of the more common pitfalls when putting your Twitter account out there for the world to see.
5. No Icon
To most, this one should be pretty obvious. The first thing you should change on your Twitter account, if you are serious about it, is your icon. It doesn’t matter if it is your logo, your photo, a cartoon avatar or something else altogether, it should be anything other than the default Twitter “face”.
Even if you are a human being and a very active Twitter user, having the default icon looks unprofessional and makes others, including myself suspicious of your account. It only takes a few moments to add a new avatar and, since it is the first thing most people look at when they see your profile, it could be the most important change you make.
4. No Updates
Everyone has to start somewhere. So if you just started your account and I’m in the first batch of people you follow, that is a huge honor and I treat it as such.
However, leaving your Twitter account blank is poor form. You should at least have one or two tweets up before people start showing up. Also, if you haven’t tweeted in many days or months, not only does the follow seem suspicious, but it makes people much less likely to follow back as it indicates the account is abandoned.
If you wish to stop posting to your Twitter account or don’t want add any tweets of your own, that’s fine, just don’t expect many others to follow it, not that it would matter if they did.
3. The Numbers
Are you following 1000 people but only have 50 followers and 3 updates? If so, you’re probably a spammer or you at least look like one.
Numbers aren’t everything on Twitter but they do tell a tale about what your objective on the site is. If you are following more than a are following you, you’ree aggressively seeking out new people. There is nothing wrong with that until the proportions get completely out of whack. That tells people you are indiscriminately following others for attention and that makes them feel as if they’ve been spammed.
For me, there is no magic formula, but your numbers have to make sense for a human being, not a robot. Numbers are not the sole factor for most people, but if they don’t add up, don’t expect a lot of return follows.
2. Every Tweet is a Link
Everyone loves a few good links, but every Twitter stream needs a bit of variety. Making every single tweet a link to your latest post or, even worse, a promotion of some sort, is not. Or rather, is very annoying, especially when those Twitter users follow large numbers of people.
There are many Twitter accounts that I subscribe to that are nothing but link collections. However, I usually add them from their respective sites, not based upon them following me. If you use your Twitter account as a mini-RSS feed, that’s fine, just don’t expect people to follow back if they are not interested in the topic.
Personally, for most of those kinds of lists, I much prefer to get them in my RSS reader than my Twitter.
1. No @replies
Finally, as I said in the beginning, Twitter is about conversation. However, if you never @reply anyone for any reason, then, for you, Twitter is just a broadcast medium. It shows others that you aren’t reading your incoming tweets and, if you are, that you are not replying.
Though there is nothing wrong with broadcasting over Twitter, as with the link collections, it is important that the person be interested in the content by itself, not the conversation. Where one might be interested in talking with a realtor from Phoenix on Twitter, significantly fewer are going to be interested in a Twitter account about nothing but new housing listings in the region.
If you want to be followed broadly and use Twitter for conversation, it is important to let people know that you are listening and replying, something a healthy amount of @replies does very well.
Everyone who comes to Twitter is doing so with different goals in mind. To some, Twitter is just a broadcast medium, another way to get links and other content to the masses. To others, it is an RSS reader, a way to get news almost instantly. For those, being followed back may not be as important as it is for others.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how to use Twitter, with perhaps the sole exception of obvious spammers.
However, for those who are interested in the dialog and need a balance in those who follow them back to make it happen, it is important to put your best foot forward on Twitter, make it clear that you are human and that you have an interest in hearing what others say, that you are active and that you care about your account.
If you do those things, most people, including myself, will be happy to follow you and talk with you. If you don’t, you may be left wondering why nobody is following you back.