Twitter – To Follow or Not


There is much debate in the Twitter community whether to follow back everyone that is following you or not. I don’t think you need to follow EVERYone back but if you are having public conversations with me (ie. Using the @ sign in front of my name) it’s probably a good idea to follow me. I may want to send you a DM (a private message) and offer to promote your business but when I try to send you a DM and I can’t because you are not following me, I get frustrated. When I go to your page and see you have hundreds of followers and are only following 7 back, I get frustrated. This makes me feel unimportant and maybe not want to promote your business anymore because it makes me feel like maybe you don’t care about me. Twitter is all about feeling acknowledged. I think most people are on Twitter because they want to be heard and acknowledged. If someone sends me an @ (that is not spam) I will automatically follow them back, that person is trying to build a relationship. I want to acknowledge that.

Some argue that they can’t follow everyone because it just gets too crowded in their Twitter stream. I totally get this and that is why I use TweetDeck where I can separate who I am following in to columns. I have one column with everyone that I glance at throughout the day, I have another column with local tweeps and another with cool tweeps, these two columns are the ones I regularly watch and interact with the most. I still glance at the masses and occasionally interact with them but I don’t get overwhelmed. Of course, the @ column is the one I watch the most and always try to respond to. If someone has taken the time to mention me or talk to me directly I definitely want to acknowledge them and write back.

I’ve found some of the “big” Twitter users don’t respond to all their @ messages. I understand it can be challenging but I would hope they at least try to respond. One certain “big” Twitter user has never responded to any of my @ messages even though he talks a lot about building relationships. Other “big” Twitter users such as Mari Smith or Mack Collier respond to @ messages, they get it. I know how I feel when I’m ignored and it’s frustrating so I try my best to keep up with @ messages and follow most of my followers that interact with me. If you have tried to send me a DM and I’m not following you back, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to. Please @ me and tell me to follow you!

7 thoughts on “Twitter – To Follow or Not

  1. Peggy Butler

    Great advice, Sally!

    I think it’s critical that businesses follow people back, especially local people. I don’t know how many times I’ve “plugged” (@ mentioned) a business that I’m following, for example a restaurant, and they never acknowledged the mention or followed me back. To me, this is bad customer service. It’s as bad as not answering an email. I personally don’t hold it against them, because I realize they’re probably new to Twitter and don’t yet understand the etiquette.

    In my opinion, before a business gets started on Twitter or Facebook, they should have a plan and be trained in social media. If they don’t have the time or aren’t savvy enough, they should hire someone like you to at least get them started.

  2. Justin

    My approach to following is to consider each person individually. When someone follows me (and isn’t an obvious spammer), I visit their profile to get an idea of who they are.

    I follow:
    * People I know. Friends, coworkers, colleagues, etc.
    * People I’d like to know.
    * People/companies that I like, even if they won’t follow me back, just because I like them. (Favorite band, favorite clothes company, etc.)
    * People who interact with me – if someone @s me and starts a conversation (or answers a question, or whatever), I’ll follow them.
    * People who seem fun or interesting – if I see a friend tweeting with someone who makes me laugh or makes me think, I’m likely to follow them.

    I don’t follow:
    * Spammers. (Obviously.)
    * Self-proclaimed experts who broadcast but never engage.
    * People who follow me because they’re following everyone who [does whatever]. A lot of people follow me because I write for Linux Journal – I don’t follow ones who are following everyone who is involved with Linux.
    * People who turn me off – people who are excessively negative, hateful, closed minded, etc. I’m just not interested in knowing them.

    Every couple of months, I go through the list of people I follow. If I don’t know why I’m following the person, I look at their profile. If I can’t see any reason to continue, I unfollow. If I do see a reason, I make a note to take more notice. (Since, obviously I’m not if I don’t know who they are.)

    I admit to keeping a list of about 30 people (about a fifth of the number I follow) that I pay close attention to – they’re my Tweeple. (And, of course, you’re one of them. 🙂 ) I don’t completely ignore everyone else, though.

    Put into a single sentence, I don’t follow anyone out of obligation. When I click the follow button, I’m saying publicly that I like and associate with that person. I’m just not going to say that unless it’s true.

  3. Sally Post author

    Thanks for the comments! Peggy I totally agree with you that businesses need a social networking plan before jumping in. I see it happen again and again… some businesses just broadcast like crazy and don’t do any authentic interaction – that drives me crazy.

    Octopusgrabbus and JustinRyan – I agree I follow most people back but if they do something that annoys or offends me I unfollow. If someone is just broadcasting (basically shouting with a bullhorn)and not interacting then it’s bye bye.

  4. Mack Collier

    Hey Sally! I think you also have to consider how the other person is using Twitter. Some people want to follow back everyone, others only follow a few people back because they don’t want to be overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all the tweets.

    I do think it’s a good idea to follow back as many people as you can simply because then they can DM you. And I also agree that you should try to @ to everyone that you can. I know I sometimes miss some if it’s during #blogchat or something similar, but you can’t take for granted if someone pays you attention.

  5. Sally Post author

    Good point Mack. What I struggle with is the people/businesses that have thousands of followers and only follow a few people back but I do understand people use Twitter for different reasons. Thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂

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