Monday, April 13, 2009

10 Tips for Choosing Followers on Twitter

If You Follow, Will They Come? Maybe...

I recently completed a Twitter search project for a client, who wanted me to get her a great group to follow. The thinking was that in turn, those seeing that you are following them will then follow you. This does not always work, but I found that about one-third of those I chose to follow, followed back. In choosing those to follow, I developed several key criteria that will prove useful in new searches and other research. I also learned a few other things: Tweedeck is a great program, but a real memory guzzler. I ended up not using it because it was using up my megabytes faster then you could say "Twitter!"; Applications like "Mr. Tweet," were not so great. They are supposed to be auto programs for finding you relevant followers on a search, but I found the search outcomes repeatedly not relevant, so I discontinued it. Tweelater was a helpful program, I like being able to set up advance tweets, and auto responses to new followers. Some people hate getting these, but I don't mind them.

10 Tips

1. Twitter profiles should have a photo or professional looking image or graphic.

A company logo is OK, but not as compelling as a photo. Many people seem to use their childhood photos, cartoons, or "joke" images. I did not find this appealing during the search, as it made me feel like I wasn't getting a sense of the real person, which is very important online.

2. Their profile must include a link to their website.
If there is no web site link, you really don't know who you are following and have no basis to make a decision to follow or not.

3. They should have interesting tweets.
I found during the search it was worth taking the time to scroll through the tweets, even for just 1-2 screens, as this provides insight into their communication style and what interests them, even with the 140 character limit. Someone may seem interesting, but if their tweets aren't valuable, they probably aren't worth following. A sign that they are tweeting with others is also important.

4. Must have bio.
You can easily decide someone's relevance even with a glimpse of their bio (it is usually cut off due to the screen.) Their bio also indicates how serious they are about their business. If someone seems of interest, but their bio includes nothing about their field, chances are they don't see themselves as serious in this area.

5. Has a blog that you enjoy.
If you already subscribe to someone's blog and like it, chances are you will want to follow them on Twitter as well, particularly if their blog is automatically feeding into Twitter. I have found that the best Twitterers, though, don't rely just on their blog feeds, but also make interesting tweets in between as well.

6. Retweeters are Good.

Check for those who retreet fairly often. That's a good sign that they are paying attention to and reposting what others are saying online, and may do the same for you. It also shows that they are interested in people other than themselves and will not be self-promoting on a constant basis.

7. Beware of Self-Promoters.
If it looks like someone's tweets are consistently all about them and their products, they are probably not going to be a great resource and I would stay away. This is also a sign that they do not "get" what social media is all about.

8. Peer Recommended.
If someone I know and trust suggest I follow someone, it's a good sign that I probably should. This serves as a mini-screening, so to speak.

9. High Number of Followers.

I found in my experience that those with a high number of followers were indeed worth following, although this may not always be the case, as I have heard anecdotes of people getting followers through questionable methods. When in doubt, check the bio, web link, and tweets, and make sure this person is right for you.

10. Be Choosy, and Aim for Relationships Rather Than Transactions

It doesn't pay to have followers who are going to get lost in the Twitter frenzy and not pay attention to you. Better to have a smaller group of potential stakeholders who are genuinely interested in being future customers, exchanging information, and providing important contacts.

Hope you find these tips useful, and please comment if you have any of your own!

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