In yesterday's post, I looked at some ways that I have used to get more followers on Twitter.  Now I wanted to spin it around and look at some of the criteria I have for who I decide to follow on Twitter.

Let's say I've just clicked on an email notification from Twitter that someone has followed me.  I click on the link and here's what I am looking for when I check out their profile:

1 - Their ratio of followers to people they are following.  If I see it's about 1:1, that's good, but if I see that they are following 14,000 people and only have 237 following them back, that's a HUGE red flag.

2 - I check their bio.  I'm hoping to get some sense of who they are and what they do. 

3 - I check their avatar.  Yes, a real pic of a real person matters.

4 - I check their most recent tweets.  Specifically, I look for how many replies they have left.  This gives me an idea of how they are using Twitter.  If I see no replies on their profile, that tells me they are probably just on Twitter to broadcast (promote their own content with no/little desire to interact with other members).  I prefer to follow people that are interested in conversing on Twitter.

5 - I check their location.  I am currently trying to follow more people from Alabama and the South, so if their profile says this is where they are located, that's a plus.

Now what about people that I decide to follow that didn't follow me first?  How do I find these people?

The quickest way for me to follow you is if I see someone that I am following talking to you.  If you are engaging my friends in conversation, that's a wonderful way to get my attention, and it's like an 'endorsement'.  Also, if you reply to me, that gets my attention, and makes it far more likely that I will want to follow you.

The bottom line is that I want to follow people that are on Twitter to interact with other people.  That's how *I* use Twitter, you might have another system for picking the people you follow, and there's nothing wrong with that, in fact it's one of the beauties of social media, that there are so many different ways that we can all use these tools, based on our own needs.

What do you look for when deciding who you follow on Twitter?

December 2, 2008

Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.

His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post,, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.

You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.

Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.


I follow people who might provide me with useful information. I do not follow those who only and always talk about themselves, or their personal lives- unless of course I am friends with them and care that their kid just started walking . (or whatever) I look for people who are conversing, but more importantly who are sharing good/useful info. ie. links to a great blog post.

Great post with excellent ideas! You can find some great sites that also help you find great people to follow on Twitter. Check Out for some excellent resources! Again - great job - looking forward to your next post!

I recently debated with @Marc_Meyer on a recent blog post of his about similar tactics as yours, and Marc said he always clicks the URL link in the person's bio. I rarely do, until later.

Do you?

I'm pretty much of the same opinion as you, Mack. I'll most definitely look to see if they're conversing or just broadcasting. I guess I tend to sway more bias towards PR and social media types, but apart from that, I will follow anyone that looks as if they can provide worth to the community. :)

My following/follower numbers are pretty low but that's okay with me. I'm much more into learning, conversing and listening - truly authentic communications and relationships. I do more listening than anything else. Besides, how can anyone follow hundreds - much less thousands - of Tweeple (is that a word??) and establish truly engaging relationship?

I'm following folks who are in my field (like you Mack and Jennifer Laycock), are colleagues or friends, and people who happened along who turn out to be pretty cool. I always check out who's following me and have blocked a few odd characters. And that's okay - why socialize with folks you wouldn't do in the real world?

Thanks for the comments, everyone. Ari I rarely check the bio link, as I've usually made up my mind yay or nay by the time I get there. In fact, I am more likely to check it if I do follow the person, I like what they have to say on Twitter, and that prompts me to check out their site.

I'm new to twitter, and I watched for quite some time before I decided to participate. I followed a few people, and started talking to them. Whenever someone asks a question where I can help, I reply. I never reply or follow those who are "advertising" or "promoting." I'd like to know what kind of person they are. I guess they're telling us by their behavior. I'm forgiving of lacking a picture. But I definately prefer a picture. I'm still learning, still connecting. I like Twitter so far. I didn't think I would.

I am not a heavy user of Twitter, but I do use it and I follow anyone who follows me, as well as anyone I think may add value. For me, following a bunch of people is no big deal as I think Twitter is pretty much a hit and miss application. I for one cannot be glued to my Twitter account to see everything going on, nor do I go back and review the days tweets. If I see it - great, if not, who cares.

As to who I drop? Anyone pushing too many e-books/biz-ops - the occasional is okay. But anyone trying to use Twitter as a guru style broadcast list kind of tweeks me.

I have been looking for better ways to use Twitter, and this post (and your last post on how to find followers on Twitter) have really given me insight! I want to get more involved in interacting with people on Twitter, and not just promoting myself. I have wanted to do this for a while. Where can I find conversations on Twitter? Are they on the home page? I have a vision problem, so sometimes it is hard for me to find such things.

Thanks so much for the information!

Funny - I just ran the same story at my blog a few days ago. I've also complied a list of top 10 tweeple you should be following. Also have a look at Mr. Tweet for automated 'who to follow' suggestions.

Sierra, if there's a certain topic that you want to talk about on Twitter, use the Search function to see what's being said about it now:

Mack - Reading your Twitter process made me chuckle just a little. I do almost exactly the same thing, in the same order (except for location - geography is not a make or break aspect for me). The email notifications are a big help to me too. I won't delete them from my inbox until I make the time to check out the user's profile and decide to follow or not to follow.

Hey Kara! Geography is big for me right now because I am in a rural area of the South, where people that are active in social media are few and far between. This is where I really envy larger areas like NYC, Chicago and Austin, that have vibrant social media communities. Hopefully we can help grow that down here as well!

I look for twitter feeds that can provide valuable information to me. For example, I'm a huge baseball fan and follow many twitter streams of MLB teams and local newspapers with streams about a team. I also follow everyone in my main niche of interest - fantasy baseball - so I can be on the cutting edge of conversation regarding the game. That way, nothing gets past me!

This is what makes Social Media so unique and interesting. As users we can choose who we want to engage with and what brands we want to allow to market to us. From the angle of getting followers I often compare it to attending a party. Dont shower and poke fun at people all night and nobody will talk to you as appose to being friendly, interesting and demonstrating that you would like to participate. In social media, its all about putting your best face foward and producing quality content while limiting social spamming. I define social spamming as anytime that you are not adding to the conversation rather adding to the clutter that is social media. I do howerver agree with your criteria, I often am much more likely to follow others who have a good follow to follower ratio. Things like Avatars don't matter as much to me as quality of content number of Tweets and interest level. Interesting article.

Mike Rynchek

When it comes to Twitter, I think many of us use the same techniques you described above. I've never followed a recommended person by Twitter Grader. I prefer to follow those that have interesting or relavent feeds.

I do not check the bio link until something comes up and I get more curious about the person I am following. I get "turned off" by incomplete bios and auto-responder DM's offering me free gifts (and links to websites). They make me think twice and reconsider following.

Avatars are important to me in a small way. I think they bring out the true character of the person, real picture or not. I like feeling as if I've learned something about the person I am following when I see their avatar.

Interesting post! Thanks for sharing your "secrets" Mack!

Very insightful post.

I've very new to Twitter and am not big a fan of social media marketing and networking (I stay way too busy).

I use Twitter b/c I am an SEO and internet marekting writer, so need to be familiar with these apps. So far, it's the best one I've used. I like it b/c it's quick and easy.

I tend to follow those who follow me, and I interact only when I can answer a question, for example. I have a large blog, website and newsletter following, so don't use Twitter to promote, just to let those who are interested in what I'm working on on a daily basis know what I'm up to at any given moment.

Your criteria though for determining who to follow is interesting; something I'll definitely keep in mind.

FYI, I found this post via a post from one of my Twitter followers. :-)

Thank you very much for your post. I just started using twitter recently using and being to enjoying it very much, even though my followers and the people I follow is only a small list at the moment. But hey, as you said, give it time.

Thanks again!

I also check most recent tweets, looking for ratio of replies to not-replies. But I'm the opposite of Mack; if the page is mostly replies, I move on.

Why? I have my settings configured to only show @ replies from people I follow that are directed toward other people that I also follow. This means that if most of your tweets start with @, unless I follow the other person too, I'll never see them. This is the default setting in Twitter. So, unless you change it, this is your setting.

Also, I want to know something about you. If you only reply to other people, I begin to wonder if you have any original thoughts.

I posted my "how to" guide for Twitter, and my follow "policy" on my weblog:

Mack, I use similar criteria to yours. In fact, I wrote about this a while back:

Geography is not really an issue for me, although I do follow a number of people who are local to me.

In addition to looking at how they post (e.g., @ replies vs. lots of links to their blog, etc.) I also consider the volume of their posts. Are they posting once a month? Not very involved. Every two minutes? Uh, perhaps a little TOO involved.

Most of the time, I start following someone because they are following me (and they look interesting) or they are interacting with someone I know (and they say something interesting) or I run across them somewhere else (their blog or in real life) and they are interesting. See the common denominator there? ;o)


I just started using twitter. Thanks for the info great article.


Such decisions easier has always eluded me. I've yet to see it mentioned elsewhere either, Nevertheless, it slapped the mess out of me. Thanks for the info.
Marble Host

Twitter's become my source of all forms of news (very new user as it is @sabeer_zaman): be it tech-related, political, pop culture, etc. I pick who I follow very carefully based on what kind of stuff they twitter: if it's mostly like Facebook status updates, I don't follow... if it's a lot of links about stuff I'm interested, I follow.

I just created a twitter poll about this. Twitter folks, you can go ahead and vote it.

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