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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