Funny Twitter follow-back (in real life) Cartoon

Unlike most social networks, following people on Twitter isn’t mutual. In other words, someone who thinks you’re interesting can follow you, and you don’t have to approve, or follow back.

I am not sure about you, but I’ve been following back everyone who follows me on Twitter up till recently without any set of rules, of course, provided he or she (or even ‘it’) has a valid profile picture (mind that, not that default Twitter egg (erstwhile birdie!) ones). That is all there is to it despite the fact that I already published couple of articles here on this issue (‘Efficient way to unclutter your Twitter following’ and ‘Types of guys not to follow on Twitter’ ~ a guest post by Shawn Poh). Blame me, I didn’t practice what I preach! :-)

That being said, ‘Follow back all’ ploy backfired and I’ve been targeted by a group of people who started to play ‘Follow/Unfollow’ game with me which I hate as much as you. At that time, I realized the fact that I should never follow back those people blindly in the first place rather than examining their profile further.

What is more, I started to follow more people (unintentionally some bots/spammers in the mix) than who follow me back. To an extent, that spoiled my Twitter ‘Followers/Following’ ratio in the process. Not a big deal, you may say! Nevertheless, it can hurt one’s reputation somehow! Since then, I’m started to examine my Twitter followers as a ritual these days.

If you’re in the similar scenario as I was, let’s come to the point: How to examine your Twitter followers then?

When I was searching for a solution, stumbled across this post (fortunately): ‘A guide to following people on Twitter’ in which Lebanon based Social media & Personal branding consultant John Antonios came up with a handy flowchart that illustrates his thought process for evaluating new people (to follow-back) on Twitter. We can apply the same for examining our existing ‘following’ too. To be honest, it helped me a lot. I guess it was well illustrated and could be useful to you as well. Yes, if you’re at ease using Twitter by now this may not look awesome to you, but wait: I think having these thoughts clearly expressed could be very handy for many people (particularly to the ‘new to’ Twitter people.)

Here it is ~ a flowchart to examine your Twitter followers/following base…

How to examine Twitter followers | A flowchart by John Antonios

Click to enlarge

As you can see, John clearly suggested checking 5 things before you follow back ~ Twitter profile/bio, Link (URL) in bio, No. of followers/following, Tweet history and Twitter age. Hope this flowchart will help you to be selective on Twitter.

Of course, there are plenty of Twitter tools/apps available such as JustUnfollow, ManageFlitter etc to unfollow people who don’t follow back. You can very well use those too. But, the point here to remember is if only you could examine your Twitter followers earlier…

*Title picture/cartoon Source.

How do you follow people on Twitter? Do you have any deliberate working ploy? Let us know in the ‘Comments’ section…

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  • Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny

    I’ve given a lot of thought to this topic each time I read through my list of new followers. Some part of me still thinks that I’m supposed to read or see everyone’s tweets. But that’s impossible.

    I don’t follow everyone back as a general rule. I do follow back people who share similar interests with me, people who are funny and just because.

    I don’t follow back haters, people who make snarky comments, eggs or people who swear in their tweets or their bio.

    I check bios and links that they share before I follow back too. The flow chart helps to sort things out – especially for new people getting started.

    • Karthick AR

      Hi Cheryl, nice to hear from you. Thanks for dropping by! Yap, you’re right! Selective following is way better than following back all. I like the point particularly you made about ‘not following haters, etc’. Good one.

  • Ali Handscomb

    Love the flow chart and am relieved I already do most of these things being a little paranoid by nature and perhaps self aware. Why would all these people follow me anyway?

    • Karthick AR

      May be you’re too good to follow, that’s why! Nah, just kidding. It’s the nature of Twitter. I can safely assume there are more sp*mbot accounts than the human ones. Anyway, being picky on following (‘by nature’ as you mentioned) people is good for you… Thanks for the props & feedback.

  • chiefheretic

    Here’s a thought. Why don’t you just follow people who tweet topics and thoughts that interest you? And then, get this, send out tweets that might interest other people, which might get them to follow you.

    Having 300,000 people following you who don’t care about what you’re saying doesn’t seem as useful as, say, having 100 people following you that really do.

    Or are you falling victim to the game mechanics that negatively affect so many users of “social media”?

    • Karthick AR

      You hit the nail on the head! Well, some lessons learned the hard way. As you stated, quality of the followers weighs much more than the quantity. Now, after following thousands of people on Twitter, their recent ‘List’ feature helped me a lot to engage with a group of people as humanly as possible, constantly. Gratitude for some nice pointers…

  • Aimee

    Love it, very helpful. I had followed a lot of spammers and bots too, and have been going through my list and unfollowing them. Thanks for the article great content.

    • Karthick AR

      Thanks for the post props… Sooner the better! Isn’t it?

  • Laurie

    I just joined Twitter about a month ago – have noticed that the majority of items on the flow chart make sense, but really confused that the chart prescribes an unequivocal “negative finding – end process” just because a person is new. I think I echo what cheifheretic is saying about the criteria just being that you follow whoever posts links and content of interest to you. Also, this concern about follower / following ratio… is Twitter really that shallow? #justsayin’

    • Karthick AR

      Hi Lauri, interesting comment you made. Well, everyone started their Twitter journey from 0/0 FF. I’m not compelling you to not follow back new people. If you know who you’re following (for example: friends (from other social networks as well), family, colleagues etc…), no problems! You can very well follow them. But what about complete strangers? That’s when you have to hold them on your waiting list for some time to see how they engage with you although they may tweet in your niche.

      Then, IMO followers/following ratio is an important thing to consider. Say for example, do you like to follow a person with 100 followers & following around 2000 ppl? (Twitter limit! ~ potential sp*mmer). I don’t think so. My take is that ratio should be around 0.5 to 1+ with their tweeting quality. I’m not considering the celebrity ratio at all.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  • Deborah

    I’d never blindly follow anyone and would hope that no one would blindly follow me. Twitter is about being free to follow your true tastes, unlike facebook where you fall into the niche you’ve had all your life of being someone’s friend/sister/school friend. On Twitter we get the opportunity to pick people to follow based on their current thought process and ability to communicate and our most immediate needs and desires. In all that we may built some real friendships, but the lighthearted interactions with people who will never be your best friend are just as pertinent to the Twitter experience . It is a very immediate and direct form of communication: say what you feel in 140 characters or risk boring yourself and others. I’d say I follow back less than a third of all followers and (without the aid of the flow chart) check their timeline to see what they’re about. You can usually tell by looking at the last few days if they’re the kind of person/enterprise that will interest you.

    I find it more effective to ask for recommendations of interesting people to follow and have very rarely been let down by the answers. It’s a pity #followfriday recommendations are not as well considered.

    • Karthick AR

      You made a valid point here Deborah. Twitter isn’t a ‘numbers’ game anymore. People want to be more engaging, thus one can make a long lasting friendship. Looking at their recent tweets can definitely give us an idea on their activity with fellow tweeps. Yup, it’s nearly a R.I.P to #FollowFriay (train) these days. Nobody going to care about it. But, it’s a pleasure to see people recommending their friends in more innovative ways (thro’ Twitter lists, single friend reco with intro etc).

  • zuls

    great article, yes I too have the same experience, however I have a rule to just block them.

    The follow-unfollow game just to look like a celebrities are annoying.

    Great charts anyway


    • Karthick AR

      Thanks for the post props. This is a generalized guidelines to analyze your new followers. But you can very well have your own set of rules too. For people who is frequently following/unfollowing, blocking them is a handy option.

  • Joe

    These are good standards to go by, and I’ve been using them since day one. I try to run an affiliate marketing site and of course I’d like my followers to buy stuff I’m selling, but at the same time, I enjoy the social aspect of Twitter, so I don’t see it as simply a numbers game like most sales people and small businesses do. (I tend to shy away from large corporations) I hand-pick those I follow or unfollow. Like stated in the chart, I always check out someone’s time line to see what they tweet about, and how they do it. It’s also important to me to feel like there’s a real person on the other end. Engagement is important and with that I find my Firefox find feature invaluable. When I’m considering whether to follow or not, I look at the person’s tweets for the last few weeks or so. Then when all those tweets are loaded, I search the page for the @ sign. If you don’t engage with your followers through mentions, it’s unlikely I’ll follow back, because there’s little chance you will then start engaging with me. As well as engagement, some kind of common ground helps. I have many things I can get passionate about, and I appreciate those that share those interests.

    • Karthick AR

      Solid points Joe. One person’s Twitter worth (follow-worthiness) can be easily gauged by their level of engagement through @ mentions and the way they share content on your topic of interest. It really makes sense.

  • scott penton

    I tried to follow everyone that follows me too, but ran into that limit of 2001 following so I had to unfollow people that weren’t following me so I can new, interesting people that were following me, if I can get past that limit I’ll follow everyone back :)
    - @scottpenton

    • Karthick AR

      It would be better if you’re a little bit picky with your Twitter following earlier. It’s never too late though. Just don’t look at the ‘followers’ numbers alone, made them in to your pals. It’ll be great for long time.

  • j000

    I almost practice most of the listed points here, however, this is a good reminder on how to filter my new followers. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karthick AR

      You’re welcome my friend. Yup, this chart can serve as a little refresher to a seasoned tweep like you too.

  • Geo Love

    I’m very new to the whole social media thing and I had never tweeted anything until a couple weeks ago. I decided early on I would follow RELEVANT people in this life and in the social media world. I hope to become a RELEVANT participate in return.

    It’s still a new medium and I think we are still trying to figure out how best to utilize it, other than “I just changed my hair color today”.

    Thanks for your insight and contribution…

    Geo @_iLoveSuccess

    • Karthick AR

      Spot on! Though there is a trap awaiting on Twitter to follow everyone you tweet across, it’s wise to follow relevant (responsive/interested) people. This really makes sense. Thanks for dropping by!

  • diversejustice

    I’ve come to make it a very strict rule. If there’s any marketing/buisness links from persons that request to follow it’s an instant refusal. This is so as to keep a protection level for my own acc. as well as my followers from possible scammers. I do the following if persons want to follow back it’s up to them. One particular freind now I followed for several months. RT a few of her tweets either to put into my time line for veiwing the link at a latter time or possile interest of a follower. That’s the only time I will RT some ones tweets, It took several months before she decided to follow myself. We are good freinds on twitter now. It’s best not to expect or ask for a follow back just give people respect of there privacy. One can veiw a nice garden but it doesn’t give one the right to enter that garden.

    • Karthick AR

      Yup, it’s your account and you have all the rights to do anything you desire mainly regarding to privacy concerns. But you have to be a little flexible with your follow policy. You may be missing out some gems in the process.

  • Bonnie squires


    I just started using twitter again and fall into a group of people
    that follow ever one back. It got so bad that I blocked some which
    is some thing i never did before. But than it got so bad I couldn’t find
    tweets from people because i had all these people names with follow
    in them and i started asking them to remove from there list and i called
    them spammers once again some thing i don’t normally do but i just had
    had it with these people. sending out the message only 2 people answered
    me and i’ve found them to be very nice and helpful to.

    So now i check there profile out for links,how much they talk to others,
    and if they rt other or if it is just all follow me back list if its follow me back
    list i skip over them.

    Thanks for this post.


    • Karthick AR

      You got it right Bonnie! Level of engagement with fellow tweeps (whether it’s a lighthearted chat or sharing content) is a good measure of their genuineness. Though the number of followers you have will be lesser, your tweeting experience will be much better.

  • Lilly Kaufman

    On Twitter we get the opportunity to pick people to follow based on their current thought process and ability to communicate and our most immediate needs and desires. As you stated, quality of the followers weighs much more than the quantity. list i skip over them. It’s the nature of Twitter.

  • Rebecca Mckay

    I’d never blindly follow anyone and would hope that no one would blindly follow me. Having 300,000 people following you who don’t care about what you’re saying doesn’t seem as useful as, say, having 100 people following you that really do. I’d say I follow back less than a third of all followers and (without the aid of the flow chart) check their timeline to see what they’re about. Thank you for posting.

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