If you have listened to me talk about Twitter, you know that I focus on the people I follow, not the people who follow me. There are many reasons why I focus on this. But the biggest advantage I see for staying focused on whom I follow is because it keeps me focused on my own behavior. My Twitter goals, my chosen community, and my interaction within my community are what matters most to me.
I feel fortunate that I’ve found a formula for using Twitter that allows me to be successful. My community continues to grow, I continue to meet new people with similar interests, and I’m learning more about the people within my community.
There are many new people on Twitter who are trying to figure out how to harness Twitter for personal and business use. Some of them have been using Twitter for a while and find it frustrating because they are struggling with the community building aspects. Perhaps you are one of them.
Recently, Meryl Evans wrote a great piece on Web Worker Daily that went through real reasons people give for not following others. I thought it was a great article, and it triggered my own thinking a bit more.
My Twitter Red Flags
If you are frustrated with your Twitter community and its slow growth, maybe you are not sending out the message you mean to send out. I can only talk about my opinions and the things I look for when I’m considering following you. I share these with the hope of giving you some insight on why people may not follow you at the rate you would like.
Each of these are things you can fix, some of them easier than others. I don’t guarantee that fixing these things will have a dramatic impact, but I do believe not fixing them could be slowing down the growth of your Twitter community.
1. No Avatar (Or A Bad Avatar)
If you are still using the default [o_O ] image and you have been on Twitter more than 24 hours, you need to fix this! The best avatar is a picture of your face. It doesn’t have to be a professional headshot, and you don’t have to look like an underwear model. People are automatically drawn to faces. They want to have a mental picture of the people they engage.
I give more advice about avatars in my Twitter New User Checklist.
2. Incomplete Profile
Give me information. Tell me who you are. I don’t mind a snarky tone, as long as there is information. Drop clues about what you do, what you like, where your passions run. I’m looking for interesting people who talk about things I care about. If you don’t tell me you love antiquing or rollerblading or travel, how am I supposed to know what we have in common?
3. Goofy Numbers
I do check your following and follower numbers, your community numbers, as well as your update count. I’m looking more for patterns than specifics.
For example, if you have a small number of updates (under 100) and you follow a lot more people than follow you, that seems okay to me. That feels like someone who is working to build a community. But if you have a lot of updates (more than 1000) and the number you follow is way out of proportion to the people who follow you, I’m skeptical.
If your community numbers are small (under 100) and you have just a few updates, I might not follow you. I’ve decided that you are new and you haven’t quite found your voice. I’m going to look for another reason why I should follow you, something that shows me potential. Having solid tweets, full of interesting content, helps. So does posting a full profile.
Oh, and if you have a lot of followers (more than 100) and you have zero updates, I’m running away. Fast.
4. Broadcast vs. Reply Ratio
I check a page or two of your archives to see if you are having conversations with people, or if you are just talking into the wind. I like to see at least 25% replies in your archive. I don’t actually count, I just take an impression. Signs of conversations are good. Unless all of your replies are directed to known celebrity accounts. Then, I am history.
5 Intolerant Viewpoints
This one is a little harder to describe. I don’t look for people who think just like me. I’m not looking for evidence that you are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, or any other dichotomy in our society. What I’m looking for is an open mind. Someone who engages in honest conversation and isn’t on a mission to convert the world to your viewpoint. Anger, hatred, inflexible view points are all turn-offs for me. If you believe the exact opposite of what I believe and you have honest, sincere conversations around topics where you listen as much as you talk, I’m cool with that. And I’ll follow you.
6. Nothing Stronger Than An R Rating
I’m an adult and I’ve seen a lot of things in my life. There is very little that offends me. But when I’m choosing the content that I’m going to see throughout every business day, I’m going to be a little picky. If every tweet contains profanity, I think you are not very creative with your language choices. If your avatar is definitely NC-17, you don’t meet my Twitter goals. At the same time, if you talk about something real without being graphic, you score points with me.
7 You Tweets Are All Trying To Sell Me Something
I have several free ebooks I peddle, and I tweet about my blog posts almost every day. But I never sell anything, and I promote other people’s work more often than my own. That’s what I expect of you. I’m cool with you mentioning your services and products from time to time. But do you promote the great work of others? Are you as generous in promoting others?
This is one of the biggest realities of social media. You can’t just show up and talk about yourself. If you are used to doing that through your emails and websites and blog posts, you will have a rough time getting real traction on any social media.
Perhaps You Just Need More Visibility
Building a Twitter community is work. It takes time, not just in the beginning, but every week. Set up some searches that help you find people talking about your passion topics, things that will help you meet your Twitter goals. Check them out. Follow them. Engage them in conversation.
If you are writing great tweets and having good conversation and your community isn’t growing, perhaps its just because you haven’t been reaching out to include new people in your community. Let more people into your world, let them see the great stuff you are doing, and let nature take its course.
Your turn: What do you look for when you evaluate someone new on Twitter? What raises red flags for you? Share your opinions in the comments.