Companies on Twitter: should you follow all your followers?

Should an organization follow everyone on Twitter that follows it? It’s a question I’ve been struggling with ever since I began tweeting professionally a few years ago.

When I worked in higher education marketing, I once had a follower who was not happy that the official school-sanctioned college account (that I managed) didn’t follow her back.

It raises the question, then and still now: what should our expectations be as followers and as followees?

First, let’s ask some more questions. Do we follow accounts on Twitter so we can hear what they have to say, or so they can hear what we have to say? Or both? It all depends, of course. Friends are a different matter; for now, let’s just focus on brands and organizations.

I follow marketing professionals, blogs and publications on Twitter for the purpose of learning from then, retweeting their content, and for throwing in my two cents every so often. I want to engage with these types of accounts. I also would hope that if I were to retweet their content fairly often and engage with them, they might want to follow me, too, since we’re talking about the same thing.

But, I follow Bolthouse Farms and Women’s Health magazine on Twitter because I want to know what’s going on with them, and I like the content they put out. I’m a fan of these brands. Regular engagement might not occur, and even if it did, I wouldn’t expect them to follow me. I realize that I don’t really say too much they’d want to hear.

Something to consider, though, is that because I’m in marketing, I understand these nuances. Someone following Women’s Health on Twitter magazine might really expect the magazine to follow them back. I was nice enough to follow you, you should show you appreciate me by following me, someone might say.

It’s a common social media guideline that if a Twitter account has a disproportionate amount of followees to followers, it could be a spam account, or it’s just not producing good content. For example, if an account is following 1,351 people and only has 33 followers, it’s a bad sign.

But on the flip side, most celebrities and huge brands have a disproportionate ratio going the other way. Look at University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari). He currently has 1,140,097 followers. He’s currently following 119.

Should the bottomline for Twitter be that there shouldn’t be a bottomline? It seems that a lot of guidelines for social media marketing on Twitter are situational and relative. Which clearly makes this blog entry one that doesn’t have a tidy conclusion!

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3 thoughts on “Companies on Twitter: should you follow all your followers?

  1. John Henry Malik says:

    I just love philosophical debates, and I suspect you do too. A Twitter issue is new and novel — there is not much already decided about the use and abuse of technological advancements — that is usually decided by the users, alas, the unwashed masses in cyberspace.
    I have two cents to add. I think only accounts that provide worthwhile content should be followed. Who the hell cares about “Letters to the Editor?” Any competent marketing person will recognize market and product trends long before Joe Sixpack tweets that Leinenkugel is indeed good beer!

  2. “I also would hope that if I were to retweet their content fairly often and engage with them, _they might want to follow me_, too, since we’re talking about the same thing.”

    That’s cynical and indirect. “I want you to do X, so I will do Y to you, in the hope that you will find Y pleasurable and hence do X in return.” If you want them to follow you, why not just ask them?

    Jocelyn Ireson-Paine

  3. Allen says:

    Should a company twitter account follow the twitter account of one of its customers? Or one of its clients?

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