What makes people follow you on Twitter?

by Heather Cowper on 22, January 2011

If you’re using Twitter as part of your strategy for blog world domination, you may be interested in what makes people want to follow you on Twitter. Here are my thoughts on what I personally look for and why. This article was first published at Heatheronhertravels.com

I don’t have a huge following on Twitter. I’m only just starting to devote some energy to building up a following, as most of my time is spent producing articles and videos for my blog (that’s my excuse anyway). Nevertheless a steady trickle of notifications come into my e-mail box, telling me that so and so is following me on Twitter.

Should I follow back?

Twitter logoWhen someone follows me, I don’t automatically follow them back. Let me share with you the thought process I go through when I decide whether to follow or not to follow you back. I do this not because I have any Twitter success to share, but because if I’m going through this thought process, then probably other potential Twitter followers are too. And if you want to build up your followers, you need to know what will make someone want to follow you. This is what I look at;

Are they tweeting in my Niche?

First I look at my new Twitter follower’s page. Instantly I work out what their niche is – probably either Travel or Internet Marketing in my case. If the Tweets are not on my area of interest I probably won’t follow.

Do the tweets add value?

Twitter logoThen I look at the quality of the Tweets – are they adding lots of value? Do they pique my interest? Does this person have some personality and a sense of humour? I might click on a few links to see if their interests co-incide with mine. Tweets along the lines of ‘Just got up and having a cup of coffee’ are a big turn off – I have enough mundane stuff going on in my life already.

Is there a nice friendly photo?

I like to follow people, not websites. I like to see a photo that shows a bit of personality, a friendly face, a nice smile (note to self, change photo to one with more smile) . I’m a bit suspicious of airbrushed perfection, but that’s the Brit in me, I suppose. If you live in LA and have perfect teeth you’ll love that sort of thing.

Is there meat behind the tweet?

Twitter logoThen I look at their website address. If there isn’t one, chances are I won’t follow – there’s just not enough meat behind the tweet. If the web address is a sales page I DEFINITELY won’t follow. Folks – you need to understand the concept of the free line. If you don’t have a lot of great stuff on the free side of the free line there are plenty of other places I can go instead. I don’t give my e-mail address to just anyone, so they can bombard me with sales letters you know! If there’s an interesting blog or website in my niche then chances are I’ll follow.

Do I know this person?

If the person is someone I already know through my blogging, who has e-mailed me, commented on my blog, I’ll almost certainly follow. Otherwise it would be like a friend asking you to their party and turning them down because you were staying in to wash your hair – lame excuse.

What’s the ratio of Following vs Followers?

Next I look at the person’s ratio of followers to following. Here’s how I look at it;

Twitter followersLow following, high followers – this person is a thought leader. They’re probably already successful in their niche with a lot of people trying to get their attention. They feel confident enough in their leadership that they don’t need to follow just everyone. If they want to follow me, that’s flattering because they obviously feel I have something worthwhile to say (or am I kidding myself?). I’ll definitely follow.

Twitter followersLow following, low followers – this person is just starting out with Twitter, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t got some interesting content on their blog or elsewhere. So I’ll use the other criteria, to decide whether they’re worth following.

Twitter followersHigh following, High followers – Especially if we’re talking over the 10K mark, this person is using Twitter as an active marketing strategy. They’re probably an internet marketeer, who recommends that you follow lots of new people in order to increase your own followers who you can then sell something to. I’m not particularly impressed by people with a huge following and I don’t have much to sell myself, so I don’t currently use this strategy. But if they are also leaders in their niche, have a great blog and other content I will follow. There’s a lot of mileage in tweeting or retweeting these people, as your tweet will be seen by all their followers.

High following, low followers – this is an unusual profile because most people have roughly equal numbers of followers and following. Either they’re spamming people or people don’t rate what they’ve got to say or their content is dubious – yes I’ve had a few of those Porn followers too ( Instant Block!). Anyway chances are I won’t be following.

The verdict

So I guess the theme is, that if you are witty, entertaining, beautiful, have something useful to say and have a great blog then you’ll attract heaps of twitter followers. Obvious really isn’t it?

So what makes you follow someone? Why would you follow me? (that’s a rhetorical question)

P.S Of course I’d love you to follow me, but only if you think I’m worth it. I’m @Heathercowper

By TwitterButtons.com

This article is published at My Blogging Journey, but originally appeared on my Travel Blog at Heather on her travels where you can find travel tales, videos and podcasts from Europe and around the World.

You’ll also find lots of great travel stories, videos and podcasts at our travel blog at Heather on her travels .

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Minna February 10, 2011 at 16:29

Thank you for the interesting post. I think I use about the same logic when I choose to whom to follow.
Minna recently posted..Where to go in February


Mike North's Toupe March 22, 2011 at 01:58

Sorry but I couldn’t help but burst into laughter when I read the line “Low Following High Followers – this person is a thought leader.”

Really? “Thought leader?” IMO, more often not, “low following high followers” usually equates to “idiot who likes to play the ‘follow then unfollow’ game just to boost their follower count because they think it makes them look important.” If someone follows me and I see that they have (for example) 5,000+ followers but are only following 23 people, I won’t follow them back because I know they’ll unfollow the second I follow them. Yep, it’s cynical but sometimes you gotta play the game in Twitter, otherwise people will walk all over you.


admin March 28, 2011 at 21:55

@Mike Thanks for the comment, I must admit that you put a different spin on than I would have considered. I guess I hadn’t imagined that people would use Twitter so cynically. The way I look at it is that I prefer to be selective about who I follow and consider each one carefully on their merits, but I wouldn’t dream of unfollowing afterwards


Carole Tee April 4, 2012 at 19:26

Great post. I just made my first tweet and got my first follower (I’m feeling popular right now) so I needed some advice. Thanks!

Carole Tee


admin April 5, 2012 at 04:59

@Carole So glad you found the article useful – happy tweeting


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