Make the most of Twitter

Is it bad karma to Unfollow the Dalai Lama on Twitter?

Blogger: Ingrid Joffe

Not long ago, good business etiquette meant that a deal was confirmed by a handshake, and networking meant making eye contact with people instead of your iPhone. Twitter has changed the rules, but some of these make me long for the old days.

In 2006, Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter said, “One could change the world with one hundred and forty characters.” It’s also changing how companies interact with customers.

There are more than 106 million Twitter accounts around the world, and users send 55 million tweets per day: about 640 per second.

Twitter is a widely accepted forum for social and business networking that lets you connect with other people (tweeps). You can have a conversation with customers, promote new products or services, retweet other peoples’ tweets, share information and links, and respond to customer feedback in real time.

Would it surprise you that Twitter has unspoken rules of engagement that can turn people away, like not following people back? I call this the Dalai Lama effect.

Use Twitter right, and you can become a respected authority in your field. Use it wrong or not at all, and you may be considered out of date, insincere or untrustworthy.

Let’s look at what happens if people follow you but you don’t follow them back.

To make the most of your time in the Twittersphere, you need to maintain a healthy ratio between your followers and your followings, retweet other tweets and have conversations without making negative impressions that will cause people to “unfollow” you.

Each time you get a new Twitter follower, you’ll get a chirpy email saying, “SomeoneNew is now following you on Twitter!” It will show the person’s profile image, bio and latest stats. At a glance, you’ll know how many tweets the person has made, how many tweeps (Twitter connections) he or she follows and how many tweeps are following him or her. Good twitterquette means you should follow your new tweep back.

Having a healthy ratio of tweets to followings to followers is key to developing a strong reputation on Twitter. In addition, how you interact on Twitter is reflected by your “klout score,” a measurement of your overall online influence. Your number, on a scale from 1 to 100, indicates how many clicks, comments and other measures of engagement you have with followers.

Another reason a healthy ratio involves a higher number of followers than followings is that some of your followers may not be legitimate. If you follow more tweeps than are following you, you can lose credibility by seeming unaware of your followers.

Say a user has 0 tweets, 31,000 followings and 41,000 followers. These numbers show that the person is using software that finds and follows Twitter profiles. Also, having 0 tweets shows that he or she isn’t having conversations with anyone. I never follow autobot accounts.

Other less-than-desirable accounts may tweet the same message over and over. Forty tweets a day from the same account? This isn’t conversation but advertising. Pass.

Quantity over quality is an issue on Twitter. If you notice more emails of new tweeps coming in while your number of followers keeps dropping, the fault may lie with yet another piece of software, one designed to increase someone’s followers and maintain a ratio.

For those who want huge numbers of followers, different tools can search out new tweeps automatically. But some of these tools will automatically unfollow you once you begin to follow them. And Twitter won’t email to let you know when someone unfollows you. These tools may create a higher ratio of followers to following, but one could argue this goes against the value of networking.

Twitter offers various good tools to help you manage your account. You can see which users have unfollowed you, and can unfollow them to keep your ratio healthy. Unless they happen to be people you really want to follow who have valuable tweets.

Like the Dalai Lama…

He’s never followed me back, no matter how many followers, tweets, retweets or conversations I have. The Dalai Lama just won’t follow me back. Or anyone else. He himself has over 1.6 million followers. I guess he’s more about tweeting philosophy than about discussing it.

Let’s face it: there’s only one Dalai Lama. In general, if you’re not following people back as part of a numbers strategy, you may want to rethink your social-media plan. We all want to be treated with respect and know that our opinions matter to the businesses from which we buy.

That’s one thing that never changes.

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Need the advantage of an online marketing consultant? My name is Marc Joffe and I have broad international experience in display, search, and social media. As a commercially minded search marketer that’s what I love to do. I work from Amsterdam, The Netherlands and make a great Dutch “toastie.” @massmediamarket. I vlog about display, seo and marketing. Subscribe to my new youTube channel