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Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Art of Following & Unfollowing (#Twitter Science 101)

Some have commented on my regular habit of taking to task anyone who follows me then unfollows after I follow them back. This angers me more than any other thing on Twitter. Its rude, its disrespectful and its downright stupid. Your cutting your own throats people. Your following is built on shifting sands and disloyalty. And if your profile shows you as a business professional of any kind you've instantly told me that your a fool who does not know what they are talking about. 

It took me years to grasp the intricacies of a good Twitter following. Like most when I first made my account I maxed it out (2,000 followers( following people who would in no way ever follow me back. The Guggenheim Museum with its million plus followers was NEVER going to even notice little old me! 
Again like most, I sort of set my Twitter aside like a half dozen times because I just did not get it. Yet I saw my followers on other social networks were pretty crappy too. So how could I fix this? 

So I started researching it. I read a lot of articles to give me advice. My first insight was when I finally understood what a Twitter ratio was. The ratio for those who do not know it is 100/1. This means for every hundred accounts I followed above my original 2,000 I would get one additional follower I could follow. Once I understood this very basic math it made me revise how I did things.

The first thing I did was eliminate absolutely everyone who had a lopsided ratio of their own. For example, if a person I was following had 4,000 followers of their own but only followed back 12 accounts then they were not for me. If they had 5,000 followers and followed 4,500 back then I knew they made a valuable attempt to follow others. These were the accounts I needed to pay attention to.

Everyone else I stopped following, but I did not lose them. I used Twitter Lists and I made a series of lists for different categories of people. Artists of the World, Photographers, etc. All of these people I stopped following officially, I tossed into one of these lists. This way I could still look in on them but had them sorted in a way that made sense to me instead of a mass of floating information that I would never be able to sort through. 

That was three years ago. I knew right away that to do this properly and build a stable and solid follower base that I would have to be patient. It would not happen overnight because I was not going to needlessly follow people just to get them to follow me back then drop them off my followers list the moment they did so. 

Now I don't have a huge following on Twitter. As of this article I am sitting right around 12,972 followers and I follow back 12,919. Compared to the big players who have millions of followers mine are pretty paltry. But the difference is that my following is solid. I lose very few followers because I did not build my following on shifting sands. 

But after three years I also found that I really did not need to do much maintenance either. I can concentrate now on content of my posts rather than attracting followers. Content in the end is the most important thing about social media, whether it is Twitter or any other network. But my basic rules still apply and I check every few days to see who unfollowed me. Those people are summarily discharged from my account. 

So here are the basic rules of establishing a great Twitter following:

1) Watch everyone's ratio. If they are followed by lots more than they follow back, don't waste your time unless they follow you first. 

2) Watch for scammers who want to sell you Twitter followers. Report them immediately and block the hell out of them.

3) Utilize your Twitter Lists. Keep categories of people that you want to watch closer even if you do not follow them.

4) Use a third party app such as Crowdfire to keep a watch on who unfollows you. Eliminate these people ASAP, but for those you want to keep an eye on toss them into a list.

5) Be specific. Don't try to follow everyone. Pick a few categories to start. As a teaching artist my followers are fully 80% other artists. But I also focus on following other creatives, such as photographers and musicians. Other people will trickle in over time to give your followers more variety.

6) Take a moment every day to go through those who have followed you and follow them back. If they were kind enough to follow you then you owe them the same thing back (unless its a scammer)

7) Take time to compliment followers who like or retweet your posts consistently. They are your best followers and they should know it. 

With just these basic tips you can create a much stronger more vibrant following on Twitter that will serve your purposes be they business or personal.
And if your still stupid enough after this to follow then unfollow people just to get them to follow you then you are dumb ass who deserves to have the cyber shit slapped out of you and your account hacked and blown into internet smithereens. (and no my rules didn't say anything about being diplomatic. Thats for the good followers only!)  


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