One of the best ways (#2 to being helpful) to generating new followers on Twitter is to strategically follow others. The general convention on Twitter is to reciprocate a follow (70% of the time or so). Often, you generate a relationship over time if your points of view resonate.
Who to follow, though? As I’ve said before, only an organic following is worth having — people that actually care about your tweets and might click/RT or read them. I avoid the Twitter Train apps that pick up scammers, self-marketers and robots. The trick is to follow someone that you believe will be glad to follow you. Think of it as the power of suggestion.
Here are six follow-strategies:
1. Upload your address book to the Twitter tool every six months. You may need to sync your Outlook with gmail or Yahoo mail to do this. When you first signed up, you might have done this already. Since then, however, many of your friends have climbed on Twitter, so you should do it again.
2. Follow anyone who mentions you (your @). I use Tweetdeck for this, with the far left hand column tracking mentions. You’d be surprised who RTs you or mentions you, yet hasn’t started following you yet.
3. Setup keywords (again, using Tweetdeck). For example, I monitor mentions of my books, my name or my company. These are dedicated columns on my Tweetdeck dashboard. Any hit on a keyword gets a follow and the follow back ratio is much higher (80-90%). Also, it shoes proactive engagement on your part to respond to a product/company mention with a follow.
4. Follow Friday: I follow my friends’ advice on who to follow. Often, I end up adding quality Twerps to my social stream.
5. Event Tracking: Many trade shows and conventions have an event hashtag (eg #ucialign) that all Twerps put at the end of their updates to organize the conversation. As a professional speaker, I follow NSA, MPI and PCMAs annual or large regional events. I also setup keywords (eg “meeting professionals international convention” for Twerps that tweet about events, but don’t use the hashtag. I follow all my potential partners or customers (I read the profile and stay somewhat selective). It helps to post useful information at the hashtag because it shows you want to be part of the conversation — usually, you’ll see your follow back ratio much higher if you put in the time to be helpful.
If you have helpful ideas on how to strategically follow for quality follow-backs, please post them in the comments. For previous postings on Twitter, check out my social media channel.