Random geekery since 2005.

Husband, father, programmer, speaker, writer, blogger, podcaster, collector, traveler, golfer.

I have been contacted by many folks that are new to Twitter because they want to know why I didn’t follow them back. It’s not personal, I promise. I’ve created a list of recommendations for people new to Twitter to help ensure that they’ll get followed as well. Here goes:

1) Use your REAL name.
In your profile, you have the option to give your real name. Do it. People want to know who you are before they are going to follow you. And besides, how are your friends going to find you if you don’t? If you can, make your alias name your name. Mine is jblankenburg.

2) Fill out ALL of the profile information.
Sometimes even using your real name doesn’t ring a bell for some people. So make sure that your profile information is up to date. Let us know what you do, what you’re interested in, where your blog is, etc. You can’t follow everyone that follows you, that’s just too much noise. So give us a reason to be interested in what you are going to be posting.

3) Start posting before you start following.
There are plenty of people trying to wreak havoc on Twitter. I get a request from “pornstargirl243” and “hotHaley99” (or some permutation) once a day. Their posts are irrelevant gibberish, and they usually just link you to some phishing site anyways. Get a solid set of 10 or more posts, so we know you’re a human.

4) You can post links, but don’t ONLY post links.
Some people only see Twitter as a place to promote things they’ve done elsewhere. Posts like “I just blogged about [something]. Click to read.” are welcome when you’re also participating in the conversation. If your list of posts looks like this one (@TheOBR), you’re missing the mark.

5) Don’t just answer the question “What are you doing?”
What are you doing is the conversation starter. Someone tweets about eating at a great restaurant, or rebuilding their computer. That’s the little snowball at the top of the mountain. Once it gets rolling is where the true value of Twitter is found.

6) Please don’t protect your updates.
Protected updates are like buying an HDTV without subscribing to HD channels. (thanks to @mmhaskar for the analogy) What could you possibly be posting that the world at large shouldn’t be reading? Keep your content to subjects you’re not going to regret in a court of law, and you should be fine. Protecting your updates is annoying, and will almost always result in a “no follow” decision.

7) Be active.
If you haven’t posted in over a month, it’s unlikely there’s much value in following you. Keep up with it.

8) Find a Twitter client that fits you.
There’s just under 500,000 Twitter client applications that have been written, and each one fits a different flavor of person. It will make your participation in the Twitter community much easier (and help you avoid constantly pressing F5 to see what has been said lately). I recommend Twhirl or Alert Thingy.

9) Your thoughts are far more interesting than your actions.
It’s great to know that you’re heading to the breakroom to get some coffee, but it’s far more interesting to know about your obsession with coffee, or the type you’re drinking. And please…we don’t need to know that you’re headed to the restroom. Ever.

10) Think before you post.
Those 140 characters are powerful. You have power at your fingertips. You can make someone’s day. You can also wreck it. And just like email and IM, your words can be misunderstood. So take a breath before you post your message and think about it’s impact. Yeah, there’s a delete button, but that doesn’t mean people didn’t read it first. This is the Internet after all…don’t put anything out there you wouldn’t want EVERYONE to find.

kick it on DotNetKicks.com


12 responses to “Top 10 Things New Twitter Users Need To Know To Get Followers”

  1. Jeff Blankenburg Avatar
    Jeff Blankenburg

    Many of you have legitimate criticisms of this post. It’s my fault for not qualifying what I was thinking about when I wrote it.I have changed the title and the intro paragraph to better explain myself. This is a list of 10 tips for bettering your chances of getting followed back by someone.I hope this clears up some of the confusion. Sorry.

  2. t3mujin Avatar

    “Your thoughts are more important than your actions”That’s the trick! I hate “I’m eating a banana” tweets, even if it’s from my close friends.

  3. Charles Avatar

    Jeff,Interesting article but you’re looking at Twitter in terms of how you use it. The beauty of the service is that there are a lot of different ways to use it.1- It depends on your audience…I use my Live/PSN handle because initially I was just talking to people I met online as everyone else in my professional circles took over a year to figure out Twitter was cool. A lot of people in other communities have established monikers that they more known as online and use them. As long as you put your name in your bio people can see who you are.4- Depends on what you are doing with twitter. We setup a separate twitter account for GamingNexus that is just pulls stuff from our RSS feed and people seem to be using it (and we’ve seen the traffic increase from it). Some people are using twitter as pseudo RSS feed and several other sites are using it. 6- Some people protect their updates because it prevents them from being bombarded with follow requests from spammers. Some protect their data because they want to control their privacy of who sees their tweets. Some people use the service as a semi-confessional and don’t want potential employers or friends seeing their info online. There are also fun cyber-stalking items here as well.

  4. John "jm9900" Martin Avatar
    John “jm9900” Martin

    >> Use your REAL name.Easier said then done. Much of the twitter namespace is already claimed.

  5. Martin L. Shoemaker Avatar
    Martin L. Shoemaker

    11. If you see great tweet, especially with a link to a great post, retweet it. It lets more people see it, gives the author a larger audience, and is a great way of showing your appreciation. That’s what I did with your tweet.

  6. Mike Borozdin Avatar
    Mike Borozdin

    Hello,Those things are definitely useful. But for what? I mean what you are using Twitter for? Is it really useful for you? What benfits do you get from using it?

  7. MistyKhan Avatar

    Jeff,Like your post – new Twitter users often look for guidance and I think you've got some excellent pointers here. #2 & #3 are especially good – it can be a little creepy when someone starts following you that provides no information about themselves.#4 is a pet peeve – I rarely follow someone who just posts links or who never posts @replies because that tells me they are not really conversing#8 I use OutTwit and used to use GTalk, but apparently GTalk and Twitter aren't cooperating these days so I may go back to Twirl#10 So true about anything you post on the internet – I worry about some of the things I see posted on Twitter and Facebook coming back to haunt their posters.

  8. RTipton Avatar

    Great list.1/2 – I agree with using your real name. It is likely that I will not follow someone with a handle and name like RedComet888. I feel your nickname can be anything you want, but your name or at least something about you should also be present.4 – It should definitely be a mix of posts. Those with links and those without. define Unless it is an information twitter account (ie Weather, Nasa, etc)6 – I am kinda mixed on this one. I believe the only reason to protect your updates should be because of spammers or stalkers. I rarely try to follow anyone that has protected their updates. If you protect your updates because you only want two people to follow you – you have missed the point of Twitter.7 – I rarely attempt to follow anyone who has not updated in over 1-2 months.8 – I have found Bitter and Twhirl the best. Twhirl has A LOT of features, but Bitter takes up A LOT less memory.10 – I completely agree with watching what and how you say things online.Regards,Rhonda Tipton

  9. BreakDecks Avatar

    I can agree with a lot of what you say, but I do have a hefty response as well:Rule 1: I understand that using you real name when posting important information online (ie. LinkedIn) is critical, but I cannot see it being to important on Twitter. I use the Handle @BreakDecks, but if you search for my real name, “Alex Vranas”, you will find me, also, you can see that info by searching for “BreakDecks”. The reason that I use the name BreakDecks is because that has been my online identity for many years. It’s easy to figure out that I am breakdecks, a simple Google search shows that I have a pretty massive online footprint. Still, it’s not my problem if another twitter user knows too little about twitter to figure out my real identity. I personally prefer using the handle “avranas” in professional applications, and “BreakDecks” in social applications.Rule 2: This is really only important if you want people to know your real-world identity. Many people use the internet as a means of anonymity. I have no problem with that.Rule 3 and 7: Twitter is not immune from Lurkers, I don’t mind being followed by someone with little to no posts. If it’s assumed they are reading my posts, I am ok with that. That’s like telling someone that you cannot read a blog if you don’t have a blog of your own. I suppose it really depends on what you use Twitter for. If you use twitter to spread your ideas to others, then I can see the importance of staying active, but if you use twitter to see what other people are thinking, than you really don’t have to post a single thing. For example, I follow you on twitter, but you do not follow me. I find what you say interesting, but I cannot assume you would gain that much from following a 19-year-old Linux Geek.Rule 4: Depends on who it is. If it is a Corporation or Organization, I can understand posting mostly links. Think of it as using Twitter as a replacement for RSS (which makes sense if you use the text message alerts).Rule 5 and 9: Why not? That’s what Twitter asks. If you don’t find someone who posts simply the answer to that question, then don’t follow them.Rule 6: I agree 100%. I don’t really know why that option even exists.Rule 8: That depends on how into Twitter you are.Rule 10: That rule applies anywhere online. I suppose with 140 characters, it is pretty important to be careful with wording.

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