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How to Succeed on Twitter? Follow Less People

An inflated follower list without purposeful connections will waste your time and dampen your Twitter efforts. Try a more organic approach.

The More You Follow, The Less You Connect

People social network to make connections with others and organizations. They share common interests, goals, and values.

The more people you follow, the less individuals you can connect with. You end up with a huge feed of “followed” results in a wall cluttered with a bombardment of messages. The chance that you’ll be able to read any single person’s update diminishes every time you follow someone new.

To make sure you get the information you need from people you want to establish an online relationship with, you need to be picky. Whether for personal, entrepreneurial, or entertainment reasons, only follow those people worth your ear (or eyes!). Follow people who provide insight and who create value. Avoid the hacks with tens of thousands of followers and who follow tens of thousands of others. The ones that spew out garbage every 30 seconds. They do not care about you. They care about your money and wasting your time.

Whoops! It looks like you forgot to specify an icon. I\'m getting better at this stuff but your practical info has shown me a few new things to get into action around. Much appreciated.

Gwen McCauley

If you follow thousands yourself, you demonstrate how little you care about your audience. You will never see their updates. As an example, a client of mine posted often to market herself. When I first built my Twitter list, I too followed hordes of people to push my numbers up. Over those first several months I used Twitter, I saw just a single post from my client. One tweet out of many that went up every day. Imagine all the information I never read from valuable people, people whom I missed the chance to make a viable relationship with.

I want to read what my clients say because the more I know about their business, passions, and needs, the better I can help them with their goals.

The More They Follow, The More You’re Ignored

The blind preaches “you follow me, I’ll follow you” and automated services exist to increase numbers by building lists based on reciprocated follows. However, the more people others follow, the less updates of yours they will read, if any. How does that help you? It doesn’t.

If Joe Shmoe follows 34,318 people, 34,318+ possible messages a day scrolls through his feed. If he follows people who build their lists this way, multiply that number by 24, 48, even 100. Most of those guys use their Twitter account as a marketing ticker. Your messages get buried in cyberspace, never read, never connecting. You will not grow your business or make more money. You just waste your time, your cash, and your effort.

The Real Twitter Gold Standard?

Look at the most successful people on Twitter - the celebs, the industry gurus, the information and communication super stars. Millions follow these people, but many of them follow less than 300 others. They value their time and want to spend it on meaningful posts. People follow them not because they reciprocated the follow, but because they earn their followers by value attraction.

Your goal should not be to follow people so THAT many people follow you. Your goal on Twitter should be to follow people you want to listen to and connect with. You want to gain followers who want to listen and connect with you. Your goal should be to earn MORE followers than people you follow, to earn followers because people DESIRE your expertise.

How to Start Fixing Your Twitter List

Wipe it Out and Clean it Up

Awhile ago, a colleague of mine completely cleaned out her client’s Twitter and Facebook lists. She found them full of untargeted connections - people not interested in her client’s business. She rebuilt it from the ground up using a basic Internet promotion principle... stay within your market or niche.

Whoops! It looks like you forgot to specify an icon. Great article Warren! Good practical tips to increase web traffic. Thanks for the info!

Elisabeth Davies

The client’s business focuses on MMA training, so she sought out similar minded people in the industry. She connected with people who would be interested in joint ventures. She friended people enthusiastic about martial arts. After building the list up, she saw her client’s bounce rate from Twitter referrals fall from the 90% range to the 20% range. Woah! The number of referrals also shot up. Quality over quantity counts big time.

Later, her client hired me to market his business on Facebook. By this time, we cut back all the direct promotion and discounts to a minimum. We posted updates and pictures of the people and the culture at the gym. We paid to promote these human-focused updates on Facebook. The result? Within a few months, the client\'s following grew by the hundreds. After about 4 months, we no longer needed to pay for Facebook ads. We targeted the right audience from the start, shared with them valuable posts about the business, and then the followers and gym members spread the word from there. The number of followers kept rising on it\'s own, eventually into the thousands. A huge success for a local niche business.

Inspired by this successful clean-the-slate strategy, I went back to my own Twitter account.

I removed all the people...

  • following more than 10,000
  • who follow the same amount of people that follow them
  • who post every couple minutes, or every hour
  • who keep posting the same marketing tag lines
  • who only post about their products and business

You know these people - spammers. We all hate them and we would all like to get rid of them. On Twitter, you can! Sure, you’ll see your followed numbers go down initially. Most of these people won’t continue to follow you unless you follow them. But you don’t need to follow everyone who follows you. You need to focus on those who bring you value and insight. If you like the info ProBlogger posts every day, follow him. Seek out your interests when looking for people to follow.

What if people in your target audience don’t want to follow you? Your problem really falls into the category of not providing enough benefit. You need to rethink your content.

Create Benefit and Value for Your Followers

Communication goes both ways. You need to listen as much (no, more!) than you tell. People can spot a dedicated marketer when they see one. It turns people away. Focus on building relationships on Twitter. Get to know people and create trust. Give people useful, quality induced information and they will thank you for it. Keep pitching them products and up-selling them, and you deserve to get dropped.

Apply This Philosophy to All Social Networks

Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+... You can use the principles here on any social network.

  • Concentrate on the relationships, not the numbers.
  • Search for people in your field, not just any random person that will befriend you.
  • Participate in groups and discussions related to your interests.
  • Listen instead of preach.
  • Inform instead of sell.

Stick by these rules and quality will beat out quantity. You will see a better response and bigger rewards for your efforts. You will be one step closer to Twitter success. This path requires more thought and engagement than randomly clicking away for new followers, but will be more fun too! Real social interaction brings lasting enjoyment as well as increased business.

As for the Twitter Twits out there with their follower scams, - drop’em and block’em!

Warren Samu
Last edited on
December 15th, 2017

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