I must make a disclaimer at the beginning here: I am a reluctant Twitter user. I am not cut out to speak in 140 character snippets, don’t like doing a lot of promoting of my work (ie spamming), and probably don’t otherwise have a lot to say to thousands of strangers. But as an author, I do find it a useful tool, so I’ve tried to make it as painless as possible. I used to use TweetAdder 3.0, which I loved for its ability to search out followers by hashtag. I find that a very useful tool in an automated program, because following people by hashtag on Twitter itself is an extremely time consuming process involving multiple clicks per person. But alas, TweetAdder 3.0 went away, and TweetAdder 4.0 is not only useless, it crashes every time I open it. I had to go back to the drawing board.
What I use now is Just Unfollow, the Pluto level, which is $9.99 a month. It’s not as good as Tweet Adder 3.0 was, but it’s miles better than TA 4.0. Because it’s not adding followers in an automated way (you have to click Follow manually, but you can do a lot very fast, whereas TA3.0 spaced them out but followed automatically… which for some inexplicable reason was considered “spam” by Twitter, while clicking as fast as your finger can go isn’t…), you don’t get thrown in Twitter jail. That’s a good thing.
The bad news is that you can only search for followers by getting a list of the followers of another Twitter user. So if you write Action Adventure like I do, you can follow the followers of James Rollins or other authors with a Twitter account. This is fairly helpful, although it’s obvious to anyone who’s looked at the followers of any well-known person that many are fake accounts, purchased followers, or otherwise useless. Here’s where my system has come in. It’s not super fast, but not as time consuming as using Twitter directly. A compromise, I guess you’d say.
1. Just Unfollow says that it “only” selects followers that are active and “good quality.” Not sure what the criteria is, but that’s not strictly true in practice. Don’t just go down the list and click them all! The rest of my tips are how to filter for the most likely people to follow you back.
2. Look for real people, with real names and real photos. Skip anyone without. Sure, there might be a few real people behind those avatars, pictures of beer steins, and pets. Most likely there isn’t. You’ll just find yourself unfollowing them soon, so don’t bother.
3. Check out the number of tweets they’ve made in proportion to their followers. There are people who have tweeted tens of thousands of times – some even hundreds of thousands of times – and they have 140 followers. Really? Do you want you Twitter feed taken up by people who apparently do nothing but tweet uninteresting things? You’ll unfollow them soon out of sheer aggravation, so save yourself the effort and don’t bother now! My general rule is that I don’t follow anyone who has tweeted over 10,000 times, unless they have a huge following AND follow back. And if they have multiple thousands of tweets, but haven’t hit the 10k threshold, I check out the following/follower number. Out of whack? Don’t follow.
4. A famous person may have a ton of followers, but if they don’t follow back, they don’t do you any good. If you’re interested in what they have to say for their own sake, go for it. But if you are trying to build your Twitter audience for your books, your blog and your brand, don’t bother. Remember, after you’ve followed 2000 people, Twitter only lets you follow 10% more than you are following. Don’t waste those follows on people who obviously aren’t going to follow back.
5, Are they talking your language? I’m happy that people of other languages appreciate our culture and our authors. But honestly, when my feed is full of Spanish and Korean and other languages I don’t understand, that doesn’t help me to connect with people, which is the only reason I use Twitter. If they’re not speaking/writing a language you understand, don’t follow them just to get followers. Sometimes it happens anyway – I unfollow them. It’s not personal. It’s just not an effective use of my time.
6. I use Just Unfollow every other day. I give people two days to follow back, then unfollow everyone who I’m following that isn’t following me. I also unfollow anyone who has unfollowed me, and any inactive users that I’m following (who haven’t used Twitter in one month or more). This frees up my account to add new, quality followers.
I follow this system for my account, and my husband’s account. I’ve built up my account by about 4000 followers in two months, and my husband’s by about 5000. When I use it, I get about an 80% return on follower backs, vs when I follow everyone that Just Unfollow suggest. Doing that, I get about 15-25% return follows. It does take a little extra time. I probably spend 20 minutes every other day on our two accounts. But since going to this method, I’ve seen a very definite increase in quality followers. And after all, that’s what it’s all about, right?