Fifteen Twitter follow dos and don'ts

Services for Real Estate Pros with Transparent BPO

school of fish twitter follows
There are two schools of thought pertaining to who to follow on Twitter. One is what I refer to as the Guy Kawasaki method which says, "forget the influentials," "defocus your efforts," and "get as many followers as you can." It's more of a mass marketing approach.

Up and until Twitter imposed limits on the number of people that I could follow in a given 24-hour period, that's pretty much the school to which I subscribed and just about anyone and everyone qualified (minus the spammers of course).

Since then, I've had to be more discerning and have actually found that to be a good thing. So, here are fifteen suggested Twitter follow dos and don'ts based on my current Twitter follow modus operandi:


1. Focus your efforts - If you're in sales and marketing, hopefully you've outlined specific target markets based on demographic, psychographic and technographic profiles. Maybe you've even created a persona of the ideal client or customer. Find those folks and follow them.

One good way to do that is by using Twellow, which is a Twitter "yellow pages." It categorizes Twitter followers based on geography and industry and covers everything from aerospace to Web development.

Twellow Twitter

For example, a search on my city, Lafayette, LA, brought five pages of returns totaling 100 people. Not a lot, but consider that a) Lafayette is a small city by comparison and b) it's in the deep south which is often the last to catch on to new trends. If you're in a more metro area, chances are your returns will be manifold times this.

What might be more relevant is search by category. For example, Bizzuka, the company I serve as marketing director, is targeting the legal industry. A search for lawyers brought over 930 returns. We are also targeting healthcare. A search returned almost 100 hospitals.

Apply that same methodology to your own situation and see what comes of it.

Twellow defaults to ranking returns based on number of followers, but you can also sort by
recent activity and/or whether the person has verified their Twellow account.

Each person listed has a profile associated with their entry which, depending on whether they've verified their account or not, could contain lots of information, including a bio, latest Twitter updates (good for knowing whether they're an active user or not), and link to their Web site or blog.

2. Follow those with real names - That's one way to know it's a genuine account. (It's always a good practice when setting up a Twitter account to use your real name.)

3. Follow those who follow you - In most cases it's a common courtesy. Chances are they're in the same industry or have some relevance to you.

4. Follow those following the people who are following you - Same rationale as #3, just once removed.

5. Follow those following the people you are following - If you've chosen to follow a particular individual for whatever reason (maybe they fit the profile mentioned in #1), there's a good likelihood at least some of the people following them would be relevant for you as well.

6. Follow those in your industry - Obviously, one of the best uses for Twitter is as a vehicle for networking, gathering feedback and getting advice. It's a great tool for meeting others in your industry or discipline.

7. Follow those you find interesting and/or entertaining - In all the mad rush to turn Twitter into a business communications and marketing tool, leave a little for pure fun. If you find someone's posts interesting, maybe they're worth following as well.

8. Follow those who use the same hashtags (ex. #nms08) to follow a conversation - Again, if they're interested in the same things as you, consider following them.

9. Follow those who @reply you - @replies can be sent into the public timeline addressed to people you're not following. If a user has addressed you in that way, might be fruitful to add them.

10. Follow those interacting with people you follow - If you see a tweet with an @reply addressing someone you're following that comes from someone you're not, they may be worth following. Check em out!


11. Don't follow those with numbers behind their names - This is a technique often used by spammers (Twammers) due to the fact that have multiple accounts. It's a dead give-away. (One word of caution: When setting up your Twitter handle, don't use numbers. Your real name will do nicely.)

12. Don't follow those with no avatar - If you can't see their face, company logo or some sort of avatar, don't follow.

13. Don't follow those who only broadcast - Unless you know it's an account set up strictly for that purpose - a news, shopping or "tips" type account - don't follow. If they don't participate in conversations with anyone else, they won't with you either.

14. Don't follow those who aren't active - I don't know the number or percentage, but I bet the number of people who've subscribed to Twitter and aren't actively using it is sizable. If a user is not actively maintaining the account, chances are it's dead.

15. Don't follow users based on their follower count - In social media, it's not necessarily how many eyeballs that count but who those eyeballs belong to. There are some very influential people who may not have huge numbers of followers.

There you have it - 15 tips for know who to follow and who not to. That's my list at least for now, though I'm sure I'll add to it. BTW, you can too! What criteria do you use in determining who to follow. Please share it in a comment. Thanks!

Finally, if you're not following me, please do. My Twitter handle is @pchaney.

Get the Complete Guide to Twitter for Business, only $9.95. This 35-page ebook equips you with everything you need to know to begin using Twitter to grow your business. Order today!

Comments (93)

Thom Abbott |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living - Atlanta, GA
Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale

Twellow? What WILL they think of next?

Great read, info and suggestions. You earned a gosh, I hope we don't have a bookmark capacity or I am going to be in BIG trouble!

Jan 09, 2009 04:04 PM
Brett Duaretto


Jan 09, 2009 07:31 PM
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Paul - Your advice is great, but I have to disagree (slightly) with #12 and #13.  I know several active people who don't have avatars (why, I don't know, its not hard to upload and its fun to change photos from time to time) and I follow several "broadcast" people (@ksatnews - my local news in San Antonio) that I have actually gone back and forth with.  In the case of @ksatnews, it has been a great follow for when I have a question about something going on in my area and want to know if a) they're covering the story and b) what time I might catch the news I need.  Of course its not all news either...I've had a few conversations about general things with them as well.  Of course, I think they're a news outlet that seems to "get it."

Jan 09, 2009 10:40 PM
Ann Cummings
RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent

Hi Paul - I didn't know about Twello and will check it out.  Without really thinking about who I follow and why, I realized I pretty much use the rules you wrote in your post.  I haven't really explored too much locally, so I'll start doing that and see what I find.

Thanks for these tips, and for the tip on Twello!


Jan 10, 2009 12:30 AM
Thea Byrnes
BeYoutiful HS - Elizabethtown, KY
Just Tickled Pink

awesome post with great information about Twitter.  Thank you! I always enjoy finding more info out about this application.


Jan 10, 2009 02:25 AM
Pat Haddad, ABR, CRS, ePRO, GRI
Keller Williams Indianapolis Metro NE - Carmel, IN
Carmel, Fishers, Westfield IN Real Estate Expert

Hi Paul - Another person bookmarking you here.  I have read lots of blogs on social networking, but I am not sure I have seen any that speak to in which order to join what and how much effort to put into each.  The answer would be easy if social networking was all we had going on, but trying to have a balance sure is challenging!  Thanks again for the great post!! 

Jan 10, 2009 11:18 AM
Paul Chaney
Transparent BPO - Crowley, LA

OMG! You guys sure know how to make a fellow feel good. Thanks for the all the comments, bookmarks and reblogs. I'm glad the post was helpful to you. 

I do want to respond to a few in particular:

@Kristin Johnston - You can change your username (handle). If you can't use your full name, some variation of it is good imo.

@Chris Olsen - While there is certainly no formula for generating leads, I know Realtors who are. Use Twellow and Twitter search to find ppl in your local area and start following. Start conversations. Look for anyone who might have a real estate question and answer it. Twitter is just another channel, but one that can produce results. 

@Stephanie Edwards-Musa - I do believe that being very deliberate in who you choose to follow is a good thing. And, yes, I'm seeing different behaviors and attitudes represented. I believe Twitter is most productive for those who genuinely care about others and take a Dale Carnegie approach to Twittering.

@Dave Seagrove - Thanks for the great advice Dave. Your comment was a post unto itself. Also, the communities of interest idea. Just call that #16! 

@Melissa Moore - The @ symbol before someone's name tells Twitter that you're addressing that particular person in the public timeline. Twitter hyperlinks the name/handle to that person. It's a way to indicate your message is to a given individual, not to the twitterverse in general. 

Often, people will jump in on the converation, much like they might at a networking event or cocktail party. It's part of what makes Twitter fun.

@Jason Crouch - I did experience follow limits. Not sure if Twitter eliminated that as I haven't experienced it lately. I sure bugged them enough. Squeaky wheel! 

@Kelly Rusk - Like to know more about how you're using Twitter at Smart Hippo.

@Matt Heaton - Too funny. I think we should hold a "drunk twitter" event. Maybe that's what a "tweetup" is. Heh.

@Mizzle - You, my dear, are the exception to the rule. @Mizzle is a brand now. No way you should change it! 

@Matt Stigliano - Still gotta stick to my guns on that; too many accounts with default Twitter avatar are pure spam; it's kind of like bloggers who use the Kubrick Wordpress theme. 

Again, thanks everyone, for commenting. You really made my day!

Jan 10, 2009 12:09 PM
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Thanks for some great advice for those of us who are new.

Jan 10, 2009 04:04 PM
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate

Hi Paul - I decided to go with a brand, @LVRealEstate, versus my name, and I think that has helped other real estate agents and investors find me. I'm pretty liberal in following back, especially in this market. I never know where the next buyer or seller may come from.

Jan 10, 2009 04:20 PM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Excellent article on using Twitter Paul.

Jan 15, 2009 01:31 AM
Sabrina Kelley
ERA Herman Group Real Estate - Woodland Park, CO
Woodland Park Colorado Mountain Homes and Land

If I lived in a Metro. area I would be using Twitter. But, even though 5 percent of Realtors are Twittering I still can't see the benefit of that constant connection.

I am not wiping it off the slate entirely but I am putting it on the backburner.

Jan 15, 2009 07:46 AM
Paul Chaney
Transparent BPO - Crowley, LA

Okay, you asked for it, you got it! The Twitter for Business ebook is ready for distribution. Here's the pitch...

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Jan 17, 2009 05:03 PM
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Paul, I don't know how I missed this post. I usually see the new posts on those I've subscribed to. I wasn't sure about following everyone who followed me. THis helped some. THanks.

Jan 19, 2009 12:54 AM
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

Paul: I agree with your tips about who to follow and who not to follow. Here are a couple more: I don't follow people who haven't bothered to create a profile and I don't follow men who are only following women (that's a little to creepy for me). Thanks for the tips.


Jan 19, 2009 04:45 AM
Debi Braulik - Maple Valley, WA
Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale

I have been trying to get more into Twitter and this do's/don'ts list is a great starting place for me. I have been pretty selective in who I am following because I have been taking it slow. Sounds like I am on the right path.

Jan 19, 2009 05:29 AM
Ann Dail
Baton Rouge Area Homes, Louisiana, USA, 225-761-0551 - Baton Rouge, LA
Broker/Realtor,CRS, ePRO, SRS, B.A.Chem

You packed lots of good information in here.  Especially for those new to Twitter.  I am reblogging for Baton Rouge Realtors in my technology blog.

Jan 19, 2009 05:45 AM
Ken Tracy
Coldwell Banker Residential - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

Hi Paul.  I am enjoying your posts.  I am goint to have to go buy your book.

I must continue reading.  I am looking for info on FBML...

Thanks for writing,


Jan 29, 2010 04:44 AM
Lisa S. Mullins
Glen Allen, VA

Very good info!  You make itsound very easy!  I liked the innfor about not following those without an avatar.... why do you recommend that?

Feb 02, 2010 11:29 PM
David L. Britt
Platinum Realty, LLC - Olathe, KS

Very Cool!  Its obvious you like sharing your knowledge and you have some really great tips!  Thanks for sharing!

Mar 28, 2011 02:13 PM
Mike Baltierra
Rise Realty - Eastvale, CA
Full Service at Your Service Realtor-Eastvale CA

Guess I have a lot of work to do to improve my account. Appreciate your informative blog.

May 19, 2014 11:24 PM