Why are you following me?

Twitter birds of a feather?I’ve been gratified and a little puzzled by some of the people who follow me on Twitter (or any other social network for that matter). I mean, sure I hope you follow me, and a lot more people too, but sometimes a girl’s just gotta wonder what makes people choose to follow one person and not the other.

I did a little rough surveying of my Twitter friends and it seems there are really only a few ways people make the decision to follow or not follow on Twitter. Here are some of the insights I gained from these discussions. I hope it will help you decide who to follow as well as understand some of they dynamics involved. Oh, and hey, if you do happen to follow me, I’d love it if you tell me why in the comments. It’s not an ego stroke kind of thing. I really want to know!

Auto Followers
Many seem to think it’s rude not to follow back everyone who follows you. Now I can see this back in the old days when there weren’t so many people and we all took it personally if we followed you and you didn’t reciprocate. Those days are over chum. These days if you automatically follow everyone who follows you you’re likely to find yourself following spammers and Multi-level marketing scams will clog up your tweet stream.

Celebrity Follow
It’s fun to feel in touch with your favorite celebrity isn’t it? I follow Steve Martin and John Cleese. Both of them crack me up and so they add value to my day. Do I really think we’re friends? Well, the other day Steve and I were talking about Banjo Pickin’…uh..no. Not really. But still I enjoy reading what they write. Did they follow me back? Well, no, but that’s OK, I still get value and share their stuff.

Follow co-workers and friends
Need to hang out around the virtual water cooler a bit? Twitter is a great way to keep up with what your friends and co-workers are up to. Sometimes it’s an excellent way to get to know that person in the cube by the coffee machine too. That said, when somebody tells me they “just don’t get Twitter” I can easily guess this is exactly who they’re following and nobody else. You probably already know most of what they talk about right? Borrring. Get out and find some new friends too.

Follow people you want to learn from
This one’s my favorite, and something I tell my clients over and over. Follow people who are smarter than you are. Who can you learn from in your field? Who can you learn from in other fields? What about your competitors? Who’s curating all the news in your particular space and posting it to their Twitter stream? Get to know them.

Follow your friends’ friends
This may seem a little stalkerish but trust me, it’s not intended that way. If you really respect another Twitter user for their great insights you might want to look and see who they’re following. Who do THEY listen to? Where do they get their information? let that person guide you to some of the Twitter users they respect and save you the time of having to follow them yourself. I find some of my best resources this way.

I saw you in a TweetChat
If you participate in Tweetchats on a regular basis, or even just go look at the recorded #Hashtag later you might find some very interesting people. TweetChats are Twitter conversations that are focused around a particular topic and anyone who is interested can chime in. Lots of times the person being interviewed is a big deal on that particular topic, but the most interesting people are often the ones commenting from the sidelines. Here’s a list of Tweetchats to check out. http://www.gnosisarts.com/home/Tweetchat_Wiki

Marketing marketing marketing!
I know, there are people who say MLM’s are a legitimate business model with a bad rap. I’m not one of those. The whole idea of this form of marketing is repulsive and goes against everything that community stands for. You might as well stand in front of me and slap me with a salmon until I beg for mercy. Reciprocity, generosity, sharing and genuine discussion is what you should be looking for. If somebody promises you a million followers in 30 days? Run away. Oh, and while you’re running? Block them and report them for spam.

Search and ye shall find
The search engine on Twitter just got a little better and if you use advanced search you can really drill down to what matters. Do some searches on things you are interested in and see who’s talikng about it. Who are they talking to? Are either of them making sense? Join the conversation and then decide if you want to follow. They’ll probably follow you back too.

The serendipity of Twitter
You never know how everybody finds you, but if somebody reaches out and engages you and you enjoy the conversation follow them. Some of the most interesting people I know on Twitter came from an out of the blue connection. Look to see who’s following you and find out what’s interesting about them. Be picky about the quality of their content and don’t fixate too much on “but I don’t know this person!”. Get to know new people, it’s half the fun.

  • I’d like to say that I started following you a couple years ago when I started blogging and you haven’t given me a reason to stop reading yet 😀 although I can’t remember exactly when…

  • I haven’t gotten into Twitter yet. 

  • Well thanks Jim!

  • Well thanks Jim!

  • Well thanks Jim!

  • Well thanks Jim!

  • Anonymous

    On Facebook, you can follow the people you went to high school with. On Twitter, you can follow the people you WISH you went to high school with.

  • Maha Noor

    Interesting article indeed! 
    Thank you 🙂


  • Hi Janet! I found you from someone I follow on Twitter. Just 2 weeks into Twitter, but I’m finally catching on. I almost always wonder about my followers. Thanks for the detailed look at a confusing part of the whole.

  • Larrysleatherwork

    Hi, I found you checking out another person who hand you  on there and followed you. 🙂

  • Hi Janet, I started out playing the follow for follow game but am now weeding out spammers and checking links people put up and getting a nice source of information that I find interesting. I’m following you because of posts like this one which I find helpful and interesting. I like to follow people who I can actually “socialize” with and or lead me to interesting web pages. Thanks for taking the time to provide interesting content on your links. I hope you find some of mine intersting too! I’m in real estate but I don’t just spam listings out to everyone because I think that’s not really the point of social media. The point for me is to socialize, learn and share. 

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting article, and you are right, you never know why people follow you. And the thing is, I’ve no idea why I started following you but it was probably that you posted an article that I liked or that you followed me and I chose to follow you back. I do like to follow back, but only those that I deem relevant or interesting (my business is also social media and web design/SEO but in the UK), not just because… I’m glad I did follow you though as this is a great article.

    I follow 800 people and I can’t read every tweet from everyone but I have a list of those I really do want to hear from regularly and I glance at my forever moving list of all I’m following using Hootsuite as I often spot little gems like this. 

    And so, consider yourself put on my ‘special list’

    I look forward to reading your next blog

    Net Potential Consulting

  • I really do not know why some celebrity as: tom cruise, john mclaughin are following me! I’m pleased of course and I would like something more than their interest (may be) toward: my content, marketing,.. To tell the truth  I wonder why even if I offer free professional web site design nobody want to take the chance!

  • Thanks… Insightful

  • Wow, the “special list”, how cool is that? Thanks @Ianpicken , I’ll try to live up to it. ( :

  • Angelica

    I am picky about who follows me, but not in an unkind “I’m better than you” sort of way. Some people follow you to harass you in some way and other follows are spammers. Whenever I get random Twitter follows from businesses just because I favored their Tweet along with 8 million other Twitter users I get suspicious.