The “Follow Me Follow You Philosophy” of Twitter

By | June 29, 2010

If anyone has been bitten by the Twitter bug, they know that for the first few months of Twitter mania there is a time when you become obsessed about increasing followers. I remember my Twitter mania days well, which occurred about a year ago. I was Twittering about 8 times a day and gaining about 10 followers a day. I loved monitoring the steep curve in that chart and created my own strategy to increase followers. I linked to articles that I thought were interesting and interspersed my own content almost everyday. I used several Twitter tools to try to increase followers. One tool talked about increasing who you follow will increase who is following you.

I read an interesting article by Aaron Schoenberger on the Brainchild site recently. Schoenberger was curious because he found that the vast majority of accounts have about the same number of followers as people they are following. He wondered if this was a coincidence or a pattern.

After 3 months of research, he concludes that for the typical Twitter user the amount of followers one has is closely related to the number of people they’re following. There is a 15% margin of error (up/down), and most users fall into this zone with the exception of celebrities, large companies, and other Twitter users that are widely known and therefore have more followers than people they are following.  He concludes that Twitter users have a tendency to follow people/companies that are following them, which has almost become a best practice.

But in my opinion that only works for a limited amount of time and then it backfires. I remember adding to my following list only to find that the posts that interested me were getting harder and harder to sift through.

So I stopped the “Follow Me Follow You Philosophy” of gathering followers and now I just stick to creating or finding interesting content. As a result, my ratio of followers (496) is higher than my following (364). But for me the luster of the Twitter is not quite as bright as it used to be and I only post once or twice a day and it’s most often my own content. As a result, I have been relatively stable around 490 followers for the last 6 months.

What about you? Have you discovered a better way to acquire more Twitter followers?

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.

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2 thoughts on “The “Follow Me Follow You Philosophy” of Twitter

  1. Don Carli

    Hi Howie:

    I find that the best way to attract twitter followers is to post interesting and controversial tweets and to RT and reply to interesting tweets on trending topics by people with many followers.

    I do not auto-follow all who follow me, but I do not see value in limiting my Twitter followers to a small group. Also, I often follow people who do not follow me if I find their timeline and profile interesting. I use a variety of third party tools and lists to filter my Twitter feeds and tune the signal to noise ratio on various topics and individuals.

    I tend to follow as many people as the Twitter follow limit will allow, but I regularly cull those who spam, those who do not post regularly, those who post too much nonsense, and those who do not follow me if I RT them or reply to their tweets.

    For me Twitter functions as a focus group/research panel that allows me to develop new insights and explore the surface gloss on topics of interest. Facebook is where I tend to explore the nuances of topics that interest me with friends and colleagues, LinkedIn is where I develop business, and my MediaPost Blog is where I share my in-depth research and seek long-from comment from a wider audience than my circle of FB friends. Skye and AIM are reserved for family and those I work with.



  2. Ryan McAbee

    Like Don mentioned, there are many methods to gain a larger Twitter following while still weeding through the noise to get to the good stuff. The better question would be do the number of people you follow and the number of people who follow you matter at all?

    Obviously there is a minimum number you need to follow to have any meaningful value from conversation or shared information. Likewise, there is a minimum number of followers you will need if you do not want to simply be a lurker, or someone who just listens. The numbers really come back to the quantity versus quality debate that is unique to each persons goals.

    A business might want a high number of people following their tweets so they can build a community to influence, whereas individuals are usually not as concerned.

    It is probably best to first figure out whether you want to listen, broadcast, research, or conversate. After that the numbers of following vs. followers will be easier to sort out.

    Happy Tweeting,
    – Ryan (@mbossed)

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