There are plenty of posts, lately, on what will get you "unfollowed" on Twitter. It's kind of like wearing the wrong style of denim in middle school. Don't look at the stats, and whatever you do, don't sign up with Qwitter.com, if you don't have a thick skin.
Then there are services that say they can guarantee you hundreds, even thousands, of followers. If they're not engaged in a dialog with you, or even reading what you say, what good is that? It's like having a million viewers during ratings week; if all of them go to the bathroom during commercials, what good does it do you?
And somewhere in between, there's me. I'm not going to second-guess your reasons for Twittering, and I won't pretend that doing everything on this list will guarantee that everyone will follow you on Twitter. But if you do all 8 (or maybe even 5) of the following things, I'll follow you.
- Be genuine and human. Fill out your bio before inviting people to follow you. Don't be coy and make me guess, "Is this my long-lost third cousin twice removed on my stepmother's side? Or is it just some random spammer?" You have 160 characters to tell me who you are, what you do, and what topics pique your interest. Use them!
- Add a real photo of yourself. Or, if you're in the Witness Protection Program, a photo of something that symbolically and uniquely represents the real you. Avoid free clip-art if you want to stand out and be noticed. If you don't want to be noticed, why are you on Twitter?
- Include a link to your Web site or blog - not one of those canned "get-rich-quick" pages (because I always read those as "run away as fast as you can"), but a real Web site or blog that answers the question, "Why might I want to get to know you better?" The answer to that involves a combination of things we have in common and things we don't - isn't that usually the basis for a lively conversation?
- Be humble. Please don't auto-DM me to say, "Thanks for the follow. Download my [whateverthehellyou'reselling] from [ittybittyurl] and TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE!" My life's fine, just the way it is. It would be arrogant to assume, on brief acquaintance, that you could improve it to such a degree that it would require the exclamation marks, let alone my hard-earned cash.
- By all means, pitch your product or service. I do. Just remember: I like my Spam grilled, with pineapple and Mai Tais. Served any other way, I just ignore it. Or make fun of it on my blog.
- Use standard English. (Or broken French. Or kindergarten Spanish. I don't read anything else, really.) Don't make me break out the Buzzword Bingo cards. txt, l337, etc. give me hives; Marketing-speak and too many mentions of "SEO" and "social media" and "Web 2.0" will send me into anaphylactic shock. I use semicolons in cell phone text messages. I admire people who can express a complete thought in one grammatically correct, 140-character sentence.
- Following people shows you care; being followed shows you're interesting. Talk to yourself, if you must - but do post regular updates. On the other hand, following 2000 people, only 5 of whom follow you back, and having only one tweet to your name...that's just weird.
- Start a conversation. Ask a question. Leave a comment on my blog (you can even link back to your own blog, provided you're not just serving up canned Spam - I reserve the right to delete or make fun of comments from Sploggers and Spammers). Make me think or make me smile, and I'll try to return the favor. Don't follow me if it's all a numbers game to you. I'm not a notch in your Twitter tree.