Tips to Get Me to Follow You on Twitter

Over the last few days I've added relatively quite a few more followers to my Twitter timeline. Some of that is, hopefully, because people actually find me interesting. And I hope I don't fail them. Some of the followers come naturally as I follow more people and they reciprocate, or their followers come across my tweets. Other followers try to game Twitter by adding massive numbers of friends only to spam them and, as I've been pleased to see, are deactivated by Twitter.

I've mentioned in IM Weekly Roundup services like TweetLater, which allow you automatically follow those who follow you. Depending on your goals in using Twitter, that may or may not be a good idea. There's no right or wrong in simply choosing to do so or not, although that opinion isn't held by all:

"Arrogant" @csendres tweet

At first glance, this opinion appears to me to be arrogant, not humble. The attitude is, "What I have to say is important, so you must listen."

I have no doubt that what csendres has to say is important to him. But to think that he can choose someone (by following them) who will also find important what he has to say...well, that's the height of arrogance. No, csendres, you can't decide for me that what you say is important. Nor can you demand that I find it important. You can unfollow me, but that's just whiny:

"Unfollow" @brianadrian tweet

If you think about it, every time you follow someone you're giving them permission to send you a 140-character message any time they like. As many as they want. On any subject at all. Any reasonable person would want to set limits on who they will listen to.

Note that I said "listen to." Even if you follow everyone that follows you, do you read every single tweet that comes across your friends' timeline? There will come a time when it is impossible to read every tweet; in some manner you will begin to filter the messages that you read. At what point should Twitter users like those above assume that some or all of their tweets aren't being seen? When you follow 200 tweeps? 500? 2,000? 10,000? And will they unfollow you when they realize that might be the case?

Some users, like Tim Ferris, go to the other extreme and don't follow anyone. With over 12,000 followers (at this moment), he doesn't want Twitter to become another inbox for him.

So who's right? I like the way Mike Filsaime puts it:

"No Right or Wrong" @mikefilsaime tweet

Here's how I choose whom to follow, whether or not they follow me:

Do you connect with people?

It's helpful to, as your Twitter settings page says, "Enter your real name, so people you know can recognize you." If you don't enter a real name, Twitter will show your user name. A user name like "fredkk0317" looks like a spammer (although it turns out I did know the user).

Help me out, as well as all your potential followers, by using your name.

Then upload a picture of yourself! I'll agree with Brian and Pat in this: it's a social site, and putting a name with a face helps you develop connections with others. Don't put a picture of your dog (or someone else's) and don't just leave the default o_O image.

Your name and your picture are imperative for you to complete before you start following anyone.

Are you interesting?

You have three chances here. First, fill out your One Line Bio. You have the opportunity to to tell me who you are in only 160 characters, so make it good. Use this to pique my interest.

Second, put a website address in your More Info URL. This should be a personal website, a personal blog, or another social media site like Facebook. Don't send me to a site where you're going to sell me something straight off. You're developing a relationship, remember?

Next, I want to see that you're posting tweets on at least a semi-regular basis. If you're not, it's going to be very difficult for me or anyone else to know anything about you. Yes, if you're new you won't have much there, but it only takes a few days of posting (before following anyone) to give others a glimpse into your interests.

Are you interesting to me?

I'm going to use the content of your tweets and at your More Info URL to determine if your interests match my interests. If they don't, I'm not going to follow in most cases. Don't take offense! You're a great person and there are plenty of other people who share your interests. In a world of six billion people, if this relative nobody doesn't follow you—for whatever reason—your life will go on unchanged.

But if you're interesting and attempt to connect with others, you'll have followers... both on Twitter and offline.