7 Rules to Follow if you Want to be Followed

Nov 8, 2011
Vote on Hacker News

I boast a quite curated social network experience. I follow a limited number of people, I organize my facebook friends extensively (and I post to appropriate sections, usually). When I meet people who follow 2,000 people, I ask them how they read their news feed, and they laugh at me, like I’m crazy to not use some 3rd party filtering service to distinguish between real followers and fake followers. I am a firm believer in Dunbar’s Number, and try to keep my relationships limited in that capacity. While it may overflow,
 I am scrupulous about my curating and unfollowing, if I feel that my newsfeed is being polluted (I’m looking at you HackerNewsYC – if your articles weren’t so damn interesting, I’d have unfollowed you LONG ago).

I was explaining to someone the other day my rules about following people on twitter, and I thought I’d share:

  1. I Don’t Follow Eggs – it’s just not going to happen, unless you’re John Lewis, of course. I want to know who I’m looking at – business or person. I’m all for privacy, but if I don’t know who you are, I’m not going to follow you.
  2. I don’t want to @Mention @QTGurl72 – look, we’re all adults. Find a way to put your name into your twitter handle. Unless you’re a business, you can under_score (*cough* @_Mash_Up_), misspeel, or do whatever legible twist you need to – just make it clear who you are. I’m not going to reference you in any capacity if I’m embarrassed to mention @Earthbound or @FairyPrincess – I don’t really follow people that I have no intention of ever mentioning.
  3. It’s not what have you done, it’s who you are – I don’t want to read every skillset you have, I just want to know what you do now. A few @Mentions in your description are OK, maybe even a few #hashtags, but no list of every pseudo-marketing skill you have, diminished by your very inability to properly market yourself to me.
  4. Are you a Company or a Person? – do not have the same twitter handle for your company as you have for your person. It shows how small you are. If your company’s twitter account how a picture of the CEO, and the CEO isn’t ALSO the brand logo for that company, you have a problem.
  5. Twitter Ratio: not so easy to perfect: I am always attracted to people who are followed by more people than they follow – that’s just a simple supply/demand question; however, that doesn’t mean that I don’t follow people with few followers – I like finding me some twitter gems. It’s when I receive a notification (that’s right, I look at EVERY new follower I get) saying someone has followed me, and they’re number of following is about 250 above their followed, that I start to get suspicious as to whether they are doing the old “mass follow, see what holds, mass unfollow” tactic to build followers. I double check quality of content, but I would say that if you find yourself in this grey-zone, be wary of who you follow. If they don’t know you, you might look like someone playing a numbers game.
  6. Keep it to yourself: The Twitter Ratio issue also applies for your tweets to followers ratio. If your over 1,000 tweets and under 100 followers, you might be flooding some newsfeeds a little too much. Dial it down.
  7. When’s the last time you Tweeted? It’s bad enough if you haven’t tweeted the day that I find you – it may be bad luck, but that’s how it goes – but if you haven’t tweeted in the same MONTH that we’re currently in, you’re probably not going to get much attention from me. If you’re not active, you won’t feel bad that I don’t follow you.

Some final thoughts: Your views are ALWAYS your own, your location is NEVER everywhere, it’s OK to have upcoming events in your twitter description, as long as it hasn’t already past, and content rules all.

I know that Twitter is not about building a mass of followers for everybody – that’s good, then you shouldn’t be offended by these rules, because they aren’t inhibiting your aim. But for those who do, it is not too difficult: content is king, identity is crucial, and keep your account classy.

Think you pass the test? Take your best shot.