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Follow Back on Twitter, It's Important!
What Do You Want From Twitter?
Twitter is a simple concept, but the rules of etiquette can be complicated.
How you use Twitter depends on what you want from it. Twitter is great for keeping up to date with what's going on in the world using trending hashtags. It's great for exchanging tidbits with friends. It's also great for keeping your customers informed.
But just how useful is Twitter for businesses?
We would argue that it is very important. Unlike Facebook, Twitter gives businesses an opportunity to make the first move- a kind of legitimate cold call to let the world know, one by one, that you exist.
Following people is one things, but what happens when people follow you? What should you do?
Again, this depends what you, as a business, want from use of the social media. However, there are some codes of conduct that we would suggest that your business follows, regardless what your motives for using Twitter are.
This article examines various reasons why following back on Twitter is important for the successful growth of your brand or business.
Build Those Connections
Good connections are never a one way street.
If someone has followed you, that is a fair indication that there was something that interested them about you. It might have been your name, your Tweets or your graphics maybe. Whatever it was, you now exist to them, and it has generally been a positive experience so far if they have decided to go ahead and click that 'Follow' button.
You cannot rely on that person to spend too much time looking at you, however. The big issue with Twitter is that the quality of this type of engagement is not all that great- a follow is a fairly fleeting transaction for many Twitter users.
You can enforce your brand by following these people back- this will mean that the person gets a notification with your name on it, making them all the more likely to then check you out- after all, it's only human nature to want to know who is watching you. A follow back shows your audience that you care, to a point, and that little bit of engagement not only puts a human being behind the Twitter account, but it may also make the potential customer feel appreciated.
Make Yourself As Accessible As Possible
Whilst you can allow messages from anyone, this is not a default setting and not all businesses wish to do this. Following someone back offers you a kind of filter system regarding who you want to receive messages from.
But on the whole, it can be frustrating for a customer who wants to enquire about your services to have to clog up their own Twitter timeline just to get in touch with you. Twitter's Direct Message system has no character limit, allowing your potential customers to detail the nature of their enquiry.
There is also an element of privacy to consider. Twitter Direct Messaging provides users with a method to communicate privately, making enquiries about gifts far easier for your customers. Not everyone wants to make their enquiries public, and whilst the public engagement can be good for you, it could also be bad if your customer has negative comments to make.
Ideally, you want to be in a position to take any complaints away from the public forum as soon as possible if you need to, and if you're not following your customers, you can only expect that any negative comments they have to make through Twitter will be broadcast publicly, as by not following them, you are leaving them with no option.
Learn More About Your Audience
Following your audience back means that their content appears on your newsfeed. Many Social Media managers view this content as surplus to requirements, only following industry relevant accounts to allow them to keep an eye on important information or competitor activity.
You can never know too much about your audience. Keeping this content flowing on your newsfeed provides diligent Social Media managers with a chance to identify their customer's problems, needs and interests, and most importantly, a chance to address these things promptly.
Knowing this information not only gives you the opportunity to engage with your audience and offer your services or product, but it also allows you a chance to adjust your content to best fit their needs without even needing to engage with them directly. This kind of passive marketing can be a powerful technique, putting the decision to initiate contact in their hands in response to your content, which miraculously addresses their needs perfectly.
You can organise the information that shows in your feed by using Twitter's list functionality, or to be more discreet, there are numerous social media management tools that can allow you to organise your followers and their content so you don't miss anything important, regardless how big your 'Following' list grows.
See Better Organic Growth
Organic growth on Twitter is seen when you get unprompted follows from people.
A good way to do this is through networking. By increasing the number of users in your 'Following' list, you are, in turn, putting yourself on every single one of these account's 'Followers' list.
Basic psychology suggests that if someone is looking for connections and growth on Twitter, they will be more likely to check out another user's 'Followers' list, with the basic assumption being 'If they have followed this person, they are more likely to follow me.' By being on these lists, it shows action and engagement, which generally speaking, is what a lot of Twitter users are chasing.
Simple maths dictates that you are more likely to see organic growth if you are following more people, as the more 'Followers' lists you are on, the higher your exposure. So when someone follows you, it is a wasted opportunity to not follow back, as your Following:Followers ratio is not impacted negatively by this activity.
Numbers are Important
As briefly mentioned in the previous section, your Following:Followers ratio can be negatively or positively impacted by your 'following activities'.
Your ratio is positive when you have more followers than people you are following. This is a badge of honour that advertises good organic growth, showing that your content is likely to be interesting enough to mean that you have not needed to follow people to get follows yourself.
Your ratio is negative, however, when you have less followers than the amount of people you are following. To many Twitter users, if this ratio is too large, for example, Following-1000 Followers-100, it rings major alarm bells, indicating that your content is spammy, or inappropriate enough to make 900 users not follow you back.
By following your audience back, you are not affecting your ratio positively, however, this does not mean that you are not displaying growth. A 1:1 increase is still an increase, and whilst your ratio does not see any immediate positive result from this, an account with 1000:1000 looks more established than 20:20, for example, making those organic followers more likely to follow you.
Whilst a positive ratio is desirable, too much of a positive ratio could also put users off following you. You see many well established accounts with a very strong positive ratio, for example, Following-100 Followers-100000. The many users on Twitter looking to grow their accounts will usually not even bother to follow these types of accounts, as their ratio makes it very clear that they are unlikely to follow them back.
It may also put casual Twitter users off following them for one simple reason- It looks rude.
Not following back displays a distinct lack of interest in your audience, a message that says 'I don't need to follow you back.' Linking back to an early paragraph in this article, a follow back may help make your audience feel appreciated, but it also works the other way.
A lack of a follow back could be taken as a snub by your audience, and as a business, why would you want to risk that? That being said, many of the more sensitive Twitter users won't even subject themselves to this kind of passive rejection, unless they're really interested in your brand or business. At which point, your job is pretty much already done for you. This is what we call the 'Fanboy Effect'. These people will follow you regardless what your following activity and ratio is like.
You Are More Likely To Lose Followers
So many Twitter 'gurus' put forward the idea that you must keep your ratios in check by unfollowing people who don't follow you. Doing this in excess is 'churning' behaviour and generally frowned upon by Twitter, but is still to this day a grey area for users.
There are numerous account management tools that help people manage their followers by categorising users into those who you are following and are not following you back. These tools are easily accessible and millions of people use them. If you do not follow those users back, there is a good chance that they will unfollow you eventually.
Gurus Tell You To Unfollow Those Who Aren't Following You
So Should You Follow Everyone Back?
The easy answer for this is NO!
Who you follow is publicly accessible data by default and therefore a reflection on your brand. There are some very dubious accounts out there, and some may be inappropriate for your business to be seen following.
It is important for the credibility of your brand that you put your followers through a 'vetting' process before deciding whether to follow them back. If you do not follow them back, but they have done nothing to deserve being blocked, they serve as contributing to a positive ratio, allowing them to still serve a useful function for your Twitter account.