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!