When I first started in social media marketing way back in 2010, I monitored a company’s Twitter account. The first thing told to me was this: Don’t follow everyone that follows you.
“Why not?” I asked.
How it was explained to me: “Our profile looks better when our follower count is significantly higher than our following count.”
Being a marketing noob, I absorbed this tidbit as fact and delivered as promised. When someone followed us, I simply did not click the Follow button.
As my career weaved from state to state, from industry to industry, I upheld this habit like a marketing commandment: Thou shalt not followeth back.
But a strange thing happened. I watched Twitter users follow us, then soon unfollow us. The accounts that followed us unrequited were mostly infrequent user accounts with high inactivity.
In other words, we were tweeting mostly to users that signed in once a month.
The funny thing is that I never followed this advice on my own Twitter account. Every time someone followed me on Twitter, I followed back. I didn’t even think twice about it.
And guess what? Most of those followers are still following me. We reply back and forth to each other and even share each other’s tweets.
The difference is that my goal is to form relationships.
As company social media representatives, we strive for engagement. But most of us are kidding ourselves when we think that we want to create dialogue with customers.
Because if you do not follow back, then your only engagement target is a steep follower-to-following ratio.
Customers and potential buyers are knocking on your door when they follow you. Not following them back is like slamming the door in their face.
Yes, companies often follow users that have proven themselves as loyal fans. But why do your customers have to prove their loyalty to you? It’s you who’s in business to sell something.
You must first prove your loyalty to your customers if you want it in return.
Think of it as the Golden Twitter Rule.
Granted, those that do Twitter right will always have a follower-to-following gap. That’s because experienced social media users can recognize spam accounts. And it’s okay to not follow Twitter users that go against your values or interests.
In fact, I look at my Twitter account’s following number to get a better idea on how many people I really am reaching with my tweets.
I should not get excited when a big Twitter account follows me back. It really should be commonplace.
But that’s exactly what happened one fine day when Slack followed me back. But I wasn’t a unique situation. The last I checked, they were following 88.4K users.
That’s a lot of Twitter accounts!
Following back shows your customer that you truly want to form a relationship, that you want to start a conversation, that you are listening to them, that what they say matters to you.
Loyal fans aren’t born with pom poms in their hands. They are loyal fans because your company took the time to create an experience that they value. And that could mean something simple as a Twitter follow back.
Do you #followback on Twitter? Share why you do (or why you don’t) below.