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!”? 😀

  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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