However, this is not hard and fast rule. While I could certainly gain (and retain) a lot more followers if I blindly and automatically followed any account that followed me, I am not going to do that. As a general rule of thumb, I do not follow scripts and bots. I also will not follow people who are clearly using Twitter as little more than a spamming tool. If you have followed me recently and I didn’t follow back, one of the reasons listed below could explain why.
Your Updates Are Protected
I have Twitter set up so that I receive a notification email each time I get a new follower. This way, I have an opportunity to follow this person back. If I click through to view your Twitter page and see that your updates are protected, I will not follow you back. You are not being forthcoming enough with what you do on Twitter, who are you, and why I should follow you back. The exception to this would be if I already know you outside of Twitter or if you properly introduce yourself in some way before I receive the notification email message.
You Only Link to Yourself
Yes, I completely understand that many companies and individuals want to use Twitter as a promotional tool. Speaking for myself, I send out a tweet each time I have a new post on Beyond the Rhetoric. That’s fine. However, if your Twitter feed is filled with nothing but links back to your own website (or filled with nothing but affiliate links), I will not follow you back. Using Twitter solely as a hardcore promotional tool is poor Twitter etiquette. You can do some promoting, but you need to be a real, interactive person as well. Which leads me to…
You Have No @ Mentions in Your Stream
Twitter is a social networking tool. One of the biggest reasons why you would use Twitter in the first place is so that you can interact with other Twitter users. It is through Twitter that I had a heated debate about the current state of education, learn new things, and participate in interesting conversations. That’s where the @ replies/mentions come into play. You should be interacting with your followers and with the Twitter community.
I understand that Twitter has a slightly egocentric slant to it, because it asks what you are doing. That does not mean, however, that it should only be about you. It’s about me too. And him. And her. And everyone else.
Your Following-Follower Ratio is Way Off
This goes back to people who use Twitter as a spamming tool. As I explained in my glossary of Twitter terminology, the following-follower ratio is an important indicator of social proof. If you are following thousands of accounts and are only being followed back by five, there’s a good chance that you’re a spammer, a hacker, or a bot. I don’t follow any of those.
You Have No Updates
You don’t have to be the most fascinating person in the world for me to follow you back on Twitter. You just have to be real, social, and reasonably communicative. If I see that a brand new account is following me on Twitter, I want to see that this person has at least made the attempt to send out his or her first tweet.
Introduce yourself, discuss who you are, and talk about your initial experience with Twitter. With no updates, I don’t know who you are. You have to understand that I am rarely motivated enough to click on your bio URL to view your website. Your Twitter feed is everything.
Do you want me to follow you on Twitter? Follow me first, then introduce yourself. Just make sure that you don’t fall into any of the five situations described above.