3 Methods to Approach Twitter Following

Photo cred: Fi and He

To follow or to not follow… to follow a lot or to follow a little… to follow back or to follow first… these are the tough questions we face on Twitter.

I’ve spoken about what makes others follow to help you figure out a legitimate method to gain followers. Now I’d like to help you decide how YOU should follow by narrowing it down to three very broad methods.

There’s no wrong answer…it depends on your goals. Why are you on Twitter?

Here are three LEGITIMATE methods to approach twitter following. You decide which one works best for you…

1. Selective Following

Selective followers don’t follow very many people.  They focus on their “ratio”, or following a less number of people than the number that follows them.  Usually, they only follow the people that they think can help them reach their goals, or that they interact with very regularly.  They probably follow around 500 people tops (rough estimate).

  • High level of first impression credibility. “If that many people want to follow that person, he/she must be awesome!”
  • Low spam. Spammers can’t direct message them.  Most spammers look for auto-followers.
  • Easier to monitor stream and interact. Following and interacting with 500 people is a lot easier than keeping up with 10,000 people.

Examples: Jacob Morgan, Eric Berto, Brett Petersel

Note: There has been a recent trend in people unfollowing a lot of people, so they may look like a selective follower now when in reality, they haven’t been to this point.

2. Social Following

These tweeps follow most people back, but won’t auto-follow.  They’ll probably follow you if you join in their conversations at least a little bit.  They don’t want to cut anyone out of their network, but they won’t just go following anyone.  You have to be relevant.

  • Still low spam. Although they may be tricked here and there.
  • Access to new networks. Their free following mentality will prevent them from keeping their “fishbowl”, or their immediate network too small…or they’ll gain access to other “fishbowls”.
  • Utilizes groups. Once they follow more than 500 people, it becomes very hard to keep track of everyone.  Apps like Seesmic Desktop will allow them to create groups so they can keep track of the people the don’t want to lose in the stream.

Examples: Stuart Foster, Dave Fleet, Beth Harte

3. Opportunistic Following

These guys or gals will follow everyone back, and then some. They’re on twitter to create as big of a network as possible.  They may still be interested in creating relationships, but they want to make sure every message they put out reaches as many eyes as possible.

  • Uses auto-follow. They use a tool like socialtoo or tweetlater to automatically follow back anyone who follows them (and might automatically unfollow those who unfollow them). One downside is this makes them extremely susceptible to spam.
  • Relies on groups, replies and DMs for interaction. If you’re not in one of their groups, don’t expect them to read your normal public tweets.  They follow so many people that they don’t even look at their regular stream.
  • High response rate. The large number of followers they’ve gained creates a larger audience for their message to reach.  They’ll get a lot of replies and retweets.

Example: Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan (although he recently stopped auto follow), Calvin Lee

Note: simply following a lot of people won’t create a valuable network. You still need to provide value so that non spammers follow you too

If you’re curious, to this point, I’ve been a selective follower, but have recently decided to become a social follower, as I feel like my potential network is being limited by not following as many people.  It’s all about figuring out what works best for you.  I’ll let you know how it works for me.

How do you follow?