Attract the Right Type of Followers with a Balanced Twitter Feed

No matter how sugary a cereal is, they always tell you it can be part of a "balanced" breakfast. (Meaning, if you eat enough healthy stuff and wash it down with a glass of milk and orange juice you might be able to counteract the 75 tablespoons of refined sugar in that bowl of Frosted Make-Me-Fats you just polished off.)

Likewise, bicep curls are good, but not if you only work out one arm, making you look like Popeye from one angle, Olive Oyl from the other.

On Twitter, when you follow someone, the natural reaction is for them to check out your profile and decide whether you’re worth following back. Everyone has their own algorithm for who gets followed back; personally, I won’t follow anyone who has a dollar bill as their avatar, but I will follow anyone who’s local. (God help me when someone from the ‘hood uses a diamond-encrusted dollar bill sign for their avatar.)

The best way to attract the right type of followers to your Twitter feed is to have a balanced feed that reflects your multi-faceted personality; in other words, a mix of different types of tweets. I’ve put together a list of some of the most popular type of tweets below.

  • The link. If you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert, or to provide value, linking to helpful resources is a must. Make sure you include some sort of teaser that will let people know what to expect when they click on your link, unless you’re working the curiosity marketing angle. However, if all you’re doing is linking to resources and nothing else your feed is going to lack personality. You do have a personality, don’t you?
  • The funny link. Great way of injecting personality into your feed. Personally, I don’t think you can overdo this, but what’s funny to you may not be funny to others.
  • The reply. I hate when I look at someone’s feed and see no @’s, meaning that this person isn’t communicating with other people on Twitter. Instead, they’re just using Twitter as yet another distribution channel. Plenty of other places to do that. On that other hand, meaningless, half-conversations make for a cryptic but ultimately uninteresting feed. When you’re replying to someone see if you can’t include some context for the rest of us. Also, if someone doesn’t follow you back immediately, reaching out to them with a reply is a great way to engage them and turn them into a follower.
  • The quote. To everyone who tweets nothing but quotes from people more interesting and experienced than yourself: please stop. If I want a book of quotations I’ll buy one. Like a dash of salt, the quote should be used sparingly.
  • The hashtag. I personally love the #hashtag. It can be used simply as a tag, helps people find all the tweets from a given conference or event, and can be very funny at times. However, #overuse #of #the #hashtag #reduces #comprehension #and #eats #up #your #140 #characters.
  • The question. Asking a question in a tweet is a great way to engage people and start conversations. People love to help others on Twitter. However, I’m always blown away by people who have six followers and are surprised when their question goes unanswered. Build a following, then you’ll get better answers when you crowdsource a problem.
  • The retweet. Retweeting is a great way of showing appreciation for someone else’s tweet, and places you in their replies/mentions column. These start off with "RT @therichbrooks…" [or whomever you’re retweeting.] However, when I see someone who does little else than retweet I figure they don’t have much to say for themselves. 
  • The request for retweet. Use sparingly. Asking for a retweet can be an effective tool to get others to spread your message, but it can come off desperate, especially if you’re asking people to promote you. Best used when the focus of the tweet isn’t about you. Bonus tip: leave enough space that someone can retweet your full tweet. For example, people need to add 18 characters if they retweet something from me. 
  • The blip. Blip.fm is a service that allows you to share (inflict?) your musical tastes with others, and is a lot like Twitter except your blips [tweets] come with musical accompaniment. You can sync Blip.fm and Twitter so your blips appear in your Twitter feed. Blips reveal your personality and I like to see what kind of music other people listen to, but too many blips in a row gets old fast. Limit yourself to a couple a day…less if you don’t tweet often.
  • The self-promotion. If you’re using Twitter for business I would expect that you are going to do some self-promotion. God knows I do. However, use the Pareto Principle: 80% of your tweets should be focused away from you, 20% (or less) of your tweets should be self-promotional.
  • The #followfriday. This is a popular way of promoting people you follow to others. Like everything else on this list, don’t overdo it. I’ve never understood people who fill a tweet with seven or eight Twitter handles with no explanation of why I should be following these people. Even a bigger mystery is why other people then retweet that! Also, only done on a Friday. But you knew that.

There are undoubtedly other types of tweets that I’m leaving out; feel free to let me know. Chances are you shouldn’t let them overwhelm your Twitter feed.

What types of tweets draw you to follow another person, and which cause you to turn away?

Check out: How to Use Twitter for Business - a Webinar on 6/18/09

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