I don’t have a hard and fast strategy for following people on Twitter, but I’ve never been a proponent of following everyone who follows you. Having seen others spell out rules behind their Twitter strategies though, it prompted me to see if I could explain my strategy for who I follow.  Here’s what emerged from the exercise – with some rationale behind who I do and don’t follow on Twitter.

Who to Follow on Twitter

  • I’m one of your most recent follows. Says to me you’re probably not following people wholesale.
  • You have very few people you follow and you’ve been nice enough to include me among them (I’m always surprised at the ones where they’re following 20 big names – Oprah, Obama, Kawasaki, etc. – and me. How does that happen?).
  • Your last few tweets are intriguing.
  • You tweet about innovation, creativity, and strategy.
  • You’re following other familiar faces, especially in the innovation and creativity communities.
  • Somebody in my conversations list says you’re really an interesting person to follow.
  • You aren’t a know-it-all superstar celebrity or a social media rock star, so I might have something to offer which you might notice and find beneficial.

Why Not to Follow on Twitter

  • You’ve been around for some time and have more people you’re following than tweets. That says you’re more interested in audience building than sharing ideas.
  • The number of lists you’re on is very small relative to the number of followers you have (i.e., 1% ). Chances are there’s not much of interest you’re contributing.
  • You have tens of thousands of followers and you’re following a few thousand more people with a comparatively low number of tweets. You’re just looking for more numbers, and I’m a crappy number.
  • You don’t have a bio or location listed, you’re Twitter name is intentionally obscure, there’s no website listed, and you haven’t tweeted enough to provide any sense of who you are.
  • “MLM,” “affiliate marketing,” “network marketing,” “Trump,” or anything that sounds like a “get rich quick” scheme is included in your bio.
  • I followed you first, and you DM’d me with something that seemed like a non-auto DM question, but when I tried to answer, learned you’re not following me.

That may not be every reason, but that covers the rationale I’m conscious of using.

How about you? Who do you or don’t you follow on Twitter? Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you define a strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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13 Responses to “Twitter Following Strategies – 7 People to Follow, 6 Not To”

  1. Mike, I pretty much concur with one you say here. But one I would add is that I love to get global perspectives and learn from other cultures. I like to learn from people in other fields as well. Recently subscribed to a musician who is an out of the box thinker and innovator when it comes to creating music. It’s part of the delight of Twitter!

    • Mike Brown says:

      Great point Robyn! While I mention strategy/innovation/creativity a couple of times in the post, it’s only because those topics tend to make people stand out. I do try to follow people across fields and globally (i.e. @Sparkica and @Swatibhattacha) because a great creative team definitely requires diversity!

  2. Dave J. says:

    I find that when those who start following me (who already have 10,000 followers), I feel offended. It is obvious that I am just a number. And rude to think I care about what they have to say.

    I also don’t follow those with too many ‘personal’ tweets, irrelevant trending links, and those who just sound like a clanging bell.

    • Mike Brown says:

      Dave –

      It reminds me of the Bob Seger song, “Feel Like a Number.” There may be a Twitter-based video idea somewhere in there.

      I definitely agree on the clanging bells, particularly people who RT tweets of people who RT’d or FF’d them. That’s all about self-absorption. Interestingly though, the “personal” tweets are kind of interesting to me in terms of seeing what people will share on Twitter. Maybe that’s the researcher in me. There’s someone I follow who carried out a break-up with a significant other on Twitter. It was quite remarkable to see the back and forth between the two of them.


  3. I teach the Twitter for Marketers class for AMA. These are definitely some best practices that I cover in that class. But, (and this is a big but), in the end it depends on your objective for using Twitter and your preferences. What works for me may not be appropriate and work for you.

    • Mike Brown says:

      Appreciate the point Bernie that each person has to find their own approaches to who to follow. So what are some things you do differently?

  4. Mike Brown says:

    Just encountered another “don’t follow situation” – you just followed me (and a bunch of others), but you haven’t tweeted in a month. Appreciate you following me. Don’t expect me to reciprocate.


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