Wondering why people follow me on Twitter?

About 6 months ago I got curi­ous as to why people were fol­low­ing me on Twit­ter. Basic­ally I asked them… and then found out some rather inter­est­ing things, both about why they were fol­low­ing me and also about the evolving etiquette around Twit­ter inter­ac­tions.

This has turned into a two-part post. Ini­tially I was going to address both the pro­cess I used, and the res­ults, but once I writ­ing about the pro­cess, I real­ized the post was  too long to digest at once. So, I’ll get to the num­bers in the next post.

On to the pro­cess.

How do I know when someone’s fol­low­ing me?
If you look under the Notices tab on your Twit­ter Set­tings page you’ll see the check­box beside ‘New Fol­low­er Emails:’. Check it and you’ll be auto­ma­gic­ally emailed every time someone starts fol­low­ing. Simple ‘eh? Without this fea­ture, know­ing when someone star­ted fol­low­ing me would have been much more dif­fi­cult.

Ask­ing the question…it’s all in the ques­tion.

Ini­tially, I thought a simple DM (Twit­ter Dir­ect Mes­sage) along the lines of ‘hey, thanks for fol­low­ing me, how’d you find me?’ would suf­fice. But no, it’s too simple, and didn’t really get much of a response. I think it ten­ded to put people off by it’s brev­ity, and it was gen­er­ic; it looked like the DM could have been gen­er­ated by an Auto-DM script.

Auto-DM is cur­rently con­sidered bad form as many people inter­pret the Twit­ter to be at its best with live inter­ac­tion, and the DM chan­nel to be reserved for inter­ac­tion that may not be of interest to all of  your fol­low­ers.

So, I settled on this pro­cess to review can­did­ates to sur­vey:

  • Click on the link to the new follower’s pro­file in the New Fol­low­er Email.
  • Check out the fol­low­ers details: loc­a­tion (if any), interests, web page, tweet­ing his­tory and con­tent to see if they’re inter­est­ing to me.
  • Look for a ‘mes­sage fol­low­er’ link under the Actions sec­tion of their pro­file. If it’s not there,  they don’t want to be soci­able, so I won’t both­er them by fol­low­ing them back. In my case, when I fol­low you, it’ll say ‘mes­sage bgri­er’ as indic­ated in the image to the right.
  • If the pro­file or a quick review of recent tweets reveals that all this fol­low­er is writ­ing about is a ‘new money­mak­ing sys­tem’ or ‘SEO secrets’, then I’ll use the link on the line below it and block them from receiv­ing my updates. I effect­ively van­ish from their ‘fol­low­ing’ list. I have no time for these type of spam accounts.

Over the peri­od of my inform­al sur­vey, both my ‘tweet’ fre­quency and my fol­low­er counts have increased. I don’t think one is a sig­ni­fic­ant res­ult of the oth­er, as dur­ing this peri­od, Twit­ter has gained a lot more pub­li­city, and spam-fol­low­er activ­ity has increased. The tweet fre­quency may have had a small impact.

Regard­less, it’s inter­est­ing data and is dis­played in cool charts 🙂 As you can see in the Tweet­Stats chart below, I have been increas­ing my online activ­ity.

And my fol­low­er count has also grown, as indic­ated in this Twit­ter­Counter chart.

All right. I’ve seen sig­ni­fic­ant growth of fol­low­ers over the last few months, and of those, a pretty good seg­ment of people have taken a moment or two to explain why they fol­lowed me. Dig­ging into those details will be the sub­ject of my next post, but in the mean­time, let me ask you a ques­tion.

Why do you think people are fol­low­ing YOU on Twit­ter? Post your answeres in the com­ments below.

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18 Replies to “Wondering why people follow me on Twitter?”

  1. Hi Brad, I fol­low you because I like the way you think and our take on some items and issues. You intro­duced me to geocach­ing. Also, even as the Gad­get­guy, it’s impossible to be able to watch, read see and hear everything. You often seem to come up with things I’d nev­er find — and I thank you for it.

    Some people fol­low me because they are inter­ested in what I have to say — oth­er just do it to get their num­bers up.



  2. Hi Greg, thanks for that!

    I agree, qual­ity over quant­ity. I fol­low (and un-fol­low) based on the value of a person’s tweets. If I’m not provid­ing value, I have no prob­lem with being un-fol­lowed 🙂

    – Brad

  3. I believe I fol­lowed you dur­ing the Twit­ter cov­er­age of the last fed­er­al elec­tion. I can’t remem­ber if you fol­lowed me first or not; either way, I think it’s because we both liked each other’s remarks dur­ing that event. After­ward, I checked out your blog and saw that our interests inter­sect, so you seemed like a keep­er.

    Will Twit­ter give rise to a new expres­sion, “It was fol­low at first tweet!”? 😀

    1. Hey Ben, yes, I recall with fond­ness the emer­gence of our ‘Twit­ter rela­tion­ship’. 🙂

      Thanks for enhan­cing this com­ment stream

      – Brad

  4. Hi Mar­garet, thanks for leav­ing that link!

    That was a great art­icle, very inter­est­ing how a very nar­row demo­graph­ic is not inter­ested in a new tech­no­logy that seems to be tak­ing off. It’ll be inter­est­ing to watch that fur­ther, espe­cially when you have research stud­ies (PEW’s Twit­ter Memo) stat­ing that:

    Twit­ter and sim­il­ar ser­vices have been most avidly embraced by young adults.5 Nearly one in five (19%) online adults ages 18 to 24 have ever used Twit­ter and its ilk, as have 20% of online adults 25 to 34. Use of these ser­vices drops off stead­ily after age 35 with 10% of 35 to 44 year olds and 5% of 45 to 54 year olds using Twit­ter. The decline is even more stark among older inter­net users; 4% of 55–64 year olds and 2% of those 65 and older use Twit­ter.

    Inter­est­ing times to be watch­ing the demo­graph­ics of the audi­ence!

    Thanks again for the com­ment, it got me think­ing…

    – Brad

  5. I just star­ted on twit­ter last night. I’ve already got 5 fol­low­ers who I do not know from any­where. I found this page by googling “How do people find me on twit­ter?” lol…They do not seem to be advert­ising any­thing I already blocked the one that was…How the heck did they find me?

    1. Hi Bill, thanks for the com­ment.
      Some people run ‘bots that mon­it­or twit­ter and are set to auto­fol­low any­one that ‘tweets’ about a par­tic­u­lar top­ic that the ‘bot watches. Annoy­ing. I call them Spam fol­lows as they rarely add value and do clog Twit­ter up.

  6. Thank you for the art­icle. I still don’t know why strangers are fol­low­ing me 1 day after I signed up and star­ted twit­ter.
    I only have 2 tweets! I find this whole twit­ter thing is a bit odd.
    I have had so many cli­ents ask me about it, I thought I bet­ter start using it, just so I could explain it to them.


    1. Hi Linda, thanks for stop­ping by!

      Sounds like you’re get­ting ‘bots fol­low­ing you too. These are simply auto­mated scripts that fol­low ‘any­one’ who tweets about a par­tic­u­lar top­ic.

      You may want to check out Twmail­er (http://twimailer.com/). It’s a nifty ser­vice that provides you with much more inform­a­tion about the people who fol­low you, as they fol­low you.

      Anoth­er cool grease­mon­key script is Troy’s Twit­ter Script (http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/40617). It over­lays Twitter’s pages with much more use­ful inform­a­tion.

      Hang in there, Twit­ter really is a use­ful tool, but it takes a bit to under­stand it’s value.

  7. Bill Gent wrote: “I just star­ted on twit­ter last night. I’ve already got 5 fol­low­ers who I do not know from any­where. I found this page by googling “How do people find me on twit­ter?” lol…They do not seem to be advert­ising any­thing I already blocked the one that was…How the heck did they find me?”

    Bill Gent, the same thing happened to me. I just signed up for Twit­ter and already have sev­er­al fol­low­ers whom I’ve nev­er met, don’t know who they are, and they don’t appear to be spam­mers, either. I don’t get it, LOL.

    Will some­body please tell me why strangers are fol­low­ing me on Twit­ter?

    1. That seems to be a com­mon com­plaint with Twit­ter cur­rently. One way to bet­ter man­age who fol­lows you is to use ‘pro­tect’ your tweets. Go to the Accounts tab under the Set­tings menu and check the box that says Pro­tect my tweets.

      Once you’ve done that, you’ll receive an email everytime someone wants to fol­low you. You can allow or decline their ‘fol­low’.

  8. I am going to try out those tools you sug­ges­ted.
    Since I pos­ted I got­ten even more fol­low­ers and it seems to be increas­ing.
    I believe there is value in twit­ter, but I also think it has to be thought­fully used to get busi­ness bene­fit out of it.
    I am not using “Social Media” like a col­lege kid would use it.
    I am not even into that. Plus I have been speak­ing to groups about online safety for over 7 years now, and I am appalled at the lack of com­mon sense people use, (all ages now!) about post­ing per­son­al inform­a­tion.

  9. Hi Linda,

    Good point re: usage. Twit­ter is really about what ‘you’ want it to be about. There are start­ing to be enough tools out there to make the pro­cess easi­er, but it really depends on what you want to use it for.

    In my case, I’m a bit of a tech­no­logy enthu­si­ast and (if I may be so bold) enjoy shar­ing that with oth­ers. People that fol­low me either appre­ci­ate it, or not (and haven’t unfol­lowed yet :). Regard­less, when I ‘tweet’ I mostly con­sider my audi­ence.

    That’s my style…it may not be yours, or oth­ers.

    re: per­son­al information…no kid­ding! There’s a lot of data out there…and not every­one really under­stands safety. That recent ‘porn­star name’ scam on Twit­ter was a recent example.

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