This is a post for those who have just joined Twitter. I remember when I first joined Twitter back in 2009 and started following hundreds of other Twitter accounts in the space of a few days.
It can get overwhelming and kind of addictive. A few months pass and you realise that your timeline is full of junk, irrelevant stuff.
You could unfollow or you could do what I do.
I don’t know about others but as my following count has grown I have become more and more selective of who I follow and why.
Please note, this whole ‘follow back policy’ is a load of Danny Shittu so please ignore at all times. Do not follow someone back just because they follow you.
Being selective isn’t a bad thing, it’s a good thing – it keeps your feed consistent, relevant and fun.
Very important. No noise.
Here are the 5 things I look at before following a Twitter account:
1. What’s the Twitter bio say?
The first thing I look at is the profile bio and is it descriptive?
There are some people who prefer just to put a statement or a quote – that’s fine but then it doesn’t tell me what field you work in, what topics you enjoy or like to tweet about.
Never leave a bio empty as it’s that additional bit of info that can make all the difference in getting a good following.
If I check out a profile and it has no bio or a very vague bio then it’s more than likely that I will go onto check #2.
2. Follower and Following Ratio
Those who start out on Twitter will obviously have a small follower count but a rather high following count as they look to increase the follower count over time.
It’s not entirely a bad thing but it can also tell me if you are someone who shouts a lot (link tweeter) rather than someone who engages in conversation. Have a look at the profile of a spam bot – don’t try and look like one of them.
I find if you talk with others, often, they tend to follow you back anyway. It might just take a couple of conversations to do so.
Try and keep your following count below your followers count. Note, there is no rule but it’s just a preference.
If you are following more people than following you then it gives me a sign that the quality of stuff you share doesn’t really get people to follow you.
3. Who is following them?
I like to have a look at the types of people or organisation following a certain account. Are they influential? Popular? Can I see a group of people who follow me who also follow this account?
If I see a group of people following this account (who also follow me) then it tells me that this profile shares common interests and is worthy of a follow.
If I see lots of random organisations or spam bots then this profile may have bought/paid followers or is tweeting about certain topics in order to attract spam bots and boost their follower count. This is a big no no.
Do not go out and buy followers just to make your follower count look large – it’s a giveaway as your tweet count will be very small anyway as a beginner. Ratios.
4. Tweet quantity and quality
By looking at how many tweets an account has sent out it tells me two things. One, they are active and two, they are engaging.
Some accounts may have dropped their tweet volume over time, this not a bad thing.
The higher the number the more likely I am going to view their timeline and check to see the quality of tweets.
I’d like to see a mixture of replies, link shares (sharing content) and just general thoughts about stuff within those thousands of tweets. A nice balance.
If I just see hundreds of RT’s then this is a bad sign as this profile will end up spamming my timeline. If I see just one-way tweets then I’m not really going to get any value from them as they may not reply back to something I reply with.
One thing I also look for is the number of “_____News from _____ is out! paper.li.” tweets. These are automated on a daily basis so if I see lots of them in succession it tells me you haven’t tweeted anything for months.
Which moves me onto the next check……..
5. Any replies, retweets or mentions?
I also check for any replies, retweets or mentions of that particular profile (easier done on a mobile I think). This tells me that there are people who are genuinely having conversations with this profile – a good thing.
If I don’t find any replies, retweets or mentions then it’s another sign to say that this person or account shouts a lot and there’s pretty non-existent engagement going on.
Sometimes I see some profiles who are only mentioned or included in paper.li tweets – again this isn’t very good. It’s good to see genuine mentions, replies and RT’s over time from genuine people.
Keep your timeline relevant, informative, engaging and fun
Hopefully if you are a beginner on Twitter you will find this useful as you look to follow and engage with others and keep your timeline packed with good stuff.
Next time you follow someone check the following:
- Check their bio – is it descriptive? Is there a link to a blog or about me page?
- Follower to Following ratio – Are they following more than follow them?
- Who is following them? – Anyone you recognise or heard of? Do the people who follow you also follow this account?
- How many times have they tweeted? – Lots of tweets or very little? If lots then….
- Check the quality of tweets – Do you see some interesting things shared? Some interesting conversations? Or do you just see lots of retweets or paper.li links?
- Mentions – can you see any mentions, replies or retweets? Lots of replies says that this profile like to get involved in the discussion.
This whole process takes me no longer than about a minute at most. It may take a while for you to work your way around profiles but once you know what to look for and where, it’s a piece of cake.
Like I mentioned previously, I find it a hundred times easier to perform the checks on a mobile than on the web.
Is there anything I’ve missed from the ‘what to check before following someone’ process? Do you follow someone and give them a two week try out?
Good tips! The only one I disagree with is No 2: Follower / Following Ratio. That ratio may be meaningful in general, but ignores a whole segment of “hidden influencers” who are curators. Curators, especially those that work across many disciplines, will follow people who are valuable subject matter experts regardless of getting a follow back. This is critical to knowledge management. These curators, like myself, are followed by one group who looks to them to filter the “experts”. Not all the “experts” are savvy enough to know these curators are working behind the scenes to share and distill their information. Unwittingly, these experts may not follow the curators back because they don’t see immediate relevance.
However, the savvy experts do value the weak ties of the curator in their network. These are the connectors who create serendipity in the network.
This is especially true to your point No. 3: Who is following them? This is a critical metric and where artificially inflated accounts are easily discovered.
Another way to discern this is to look at the Twitter lists the username has been added to and by whom. I look at the List count and relevance and measure it against the followers. Maybe too technical for some, but valuable for those who want a deeper understanding of thought leadership on the digital social web. 🙂
Excellent points well made. Thank you.
I think the number of lists a profile is on is a great check.
Any advice on cutting down who I follow (currently 1700+)? Are there any tools to help?
Thanks for the comment Ravi.
I’ve used this before http://thetwitcleaner.com/ and http://tweepi.com. It tells me who hasn’t tweeted for days, months so I just unfollow as they may no longer be active. It also shows which accounts broadcast more than reply or just tweet repetitive tweets and so on.
I do this regularly to ensure my timeline is always relevant.
JustUnfollow – find the dead ones … and those who have followed and unfollowed you within a few days – SocialBro used to be good, and I have just had a play with FollowerWonk :- )
Perfect, thanks Pritesh
I do the same thing too! The ratio between followers and following can often indicate if the person I’m following is an influencer. Xcite Digital, the marketing company I work for. have been implementing Twitter into our strategy for quite some time so these tips will be very useful.
Glad it was useful Nahida.