The theme for this post could be the song Follow You Follow Me by the band Genesis. It’s a pretty good connection and I’m secretly pleased with myself for finding it. But it is quite appropriate for introducing the idea of follow back Twitter accounts too!
Twitter can be a frustrating beast when you’re trying to grow your followers. I’m relatively new to Twitter as a personal Twitterer. Although I’ve worked on accounts that have large numbers of followers, I’ve never started an account from scratch and then dedicated myself to it like I have with my SideGains account: @gains_side.
You’ll tick along getting a 1 or 2 new followers each day. Perhaps one day you get a “big” spike of 5 new followers (gasp)! The next day you drop 20!
If you’re frustrated trying to grow your Twitter following, you’ve probably researched ways to figure out how to grow. You might have come across all sorts of strategies “guaranteed” to take you to the moon and back!
Have they worked for you?
Today I’m focussing on a strategy to which many people subscribe. It’s an approach, which might have a massive appeal because it seems so straightforward. I’m talking about follow back Twitter accounts.
I want to explain to you in detail what I understand about follow back strategies. You can then decide whether or not you should use them.
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What are Follow Back Accounts?
I know it’s pretty self-explanatory and I don’t want to patronize you. However, for the purposes of completeness I have to give a brief outline… so apologies for this in advance!
As you might know, a follow back Twitter account is one that will follow you on the proviso that you follow them first. Think… I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours!
A follow back account likely doesn’t have any real motivation to follow you unless you follow them. If mutual following is the only criteria, presumably follow back account holders don’t especially care about the type of things you’ll be tweeting about.
Remember they only guarantee a follow back to you and not engagement.
Why Should I Worry About Twitter Engagement?
It can feel great to have someone following you when they have an enormous amount of followers. You might feel very flattered. But none of a follow back’s fanbase will ever see what you’re tweeting about, unless your follow back friend shares your tweets often and comments on them just as much.
If you’re getting nothing from a Twitter follower than a follow and zero engagement, it’s a pretty shallow deal. In my view it’s a deal that’s not going to benefit you.
It’s certainly not going to help you get more followers but it will probably result in filling up your feed with “follow for follow” tweets.
Who needs that?
How to Identify Twitter Follow Back Accounts?
There are few things that indicate a Twitter follow back account.
- They tell you so! A quick scan of their bio might explicitly say “we follow back” or “follow for follow”.
- Before you follow back anyone on Twitter, check out their tweets and how much engagement they’re getting. Someone with 20k followers might look impressive on paper. But if no-one engages with their tweets this suggests a very shallow follower relationship. Of course it could be their tweets are not great. Having said this, with that many followers you might expect at least some of them to comment or retweet.
- Alternatively, they might have a lot of engagement, but only in terms of follow for follow tweets.
- Does their Twitter profile look genuine or has no effort been spent on it? Do they have a profile image and a bio? If someone with a blank profile follows you, and you can’t see any benefit for them from it, it could be they’re just looking for a follow back and not much else.
- You follow someone and they immediately follow you back. Of course it could be that the Twitter account owner is incredibly efficient. Then again it might be that something automated is taking place. Lots of follow for follow accounts are run by bots, meaning that a real person is not handling this activity.
What About New Followers that Aren’t Follow Back Accounts? Should I Follow Them?
My feeling is that you shouldn’t blindly follow anyone on Twitter unless you want to see what they’re tweeting in your feed. You certainly shouldn’t follow them just because they follow you.
I feel that anyone who follows you, tweeting about topics aligned with what you do or that are interesting to you, IS worth following.
So let’s say you are a baker and someone with an interest in food follows you. You’ll possibly have someone with whom you have something in common. Their tweets will appear in your feed and there’s a likelihood you’ll engage with them and vice-versa.
If you receive follow someone who tweets in a language different from your native tongue, I’m not sure there’ll be much engagement between either of you. How could there be if you don’t speak the same language?
Setting Up Follower Lists
As your follower base grows, the activities of those whose tweets you really enjoy begin to get lost in your feed.
One way to handle this is to create Twitter lists. These help you to focus on only those voices you want to hear. Each list you create will enable you to filter out the tweets from other people, so you can just see what your list members are saying.
Think of lists as special filtered feeds. They can be a little bit of work to set up, but they’re worth it to maintain the special relationships and engagements you’ve cultivated over time.
- Some follow back Twitter accounts use bots
- Never develop a relationship with follow back Twitter accounts by following them.
- Don’t follow someone just because they follow you. Check out their profile and activity and decide if you have something in common or you think the say interesting or useful things.
- It’s more important to have engagement in Twitter than thousands of followers. Of course thousands of engaged followers is gold dust!
- As your Twitter following grows, you might find it useful to create Twitter lists and add your favorite accounts to them. This will help you to zero in on their Tweets in a kind of custom feed. If you don’t you may struggle to see them in your main feed.
That’s all for now!
I’m not a fan of follow back accounts but maybe you have a different experience. If so, drop me a comment below and enlighten me!