How Followable are You on Twitter?

Filed in MY BEST POSTS, Social Media by Matt McGee on April 10, 2012 7 Comments

Have you looked at your Twitter stream lately?

I’m talking about your tweets — your own stream — not the tweets from others that you follow. Have you looked at it lately?

If you haven’t, go look at it right now and ask yourself this question as objectively as possible: How followable am I?

The Need for a Clean Twitter Stream

If you’re a small business owner on Twitter, the challenge of building a loyal following is already tough enough. Think about this way: No one wakes up in the morning and says, “Wow, I hope I get to see a lot of advertisements today!” People aren’t dying to be marketed to. They’re not on Twitter because they want you to spam links to your widgets, your website, or your blog posts.

That’s why I think it’s imperative to build a clean Twitter stream. By “clean stream,” I mean one that’s not filled with spam and self-promotional messages.

It’s not about you. It’s about your audience.

If you want people to follow and interact with you, it has to be about them. You can’t talk about yourself 24/7. BORING.

What a Clean Twitter Stream Looks Like

To simplify things a bit, there are primarily three kinds of tweets that you might post:

1. Regular tweets

These can be about almost anything, and hopefully they’re interesting. The important thing is that they’re not self-promotional or sales-y. Here’s one from my Twitter stream:

That links to an article on Billboard magazine’s website. It was just an interesting fact I felt like sharing.

2. Replies

This is when you converse directly with another Twitter user, like this:

Not all of my followers see that tweet/conversation — only the ones that also follow Mack. Or the ones that are checking out my stream via Twitter’s website. (More on that below.)

3. Self-promotional tweets/links

If you’re on Twitter for business purposes, it’s understood that some of your tweets are going to be promotional — info about your current sales/specials, or links to your latest article, etc. Like this one where I linked to one of my recent blog posts:

Here’s the thing: It’s important to have a balance of these three kinds of tweets. Here’s a chart that I use when speaking:


I usually suggest that small business owners try to limit themselves to no more than one-third self-promotional tweets. It’s okay to tweet links to your articles and such as long as it’s not the only stuff you tweet.

Why a Clean Twitter Stream Matters

I said above that it’s important to have a balance in the types of tweets you post. Here’s why:

When a customer or potential customer is thinking about following you, the first thing she’ll do is look at your Twitter account to see what you share/post. She’s going to look at your Twitter stream and decide how followable you are.

You want to be followable.

In most cases, small businesses that only post links/promotion are probably not going to be followed as much as those that also reply to their followers and have conversations, and those that share some regular (and interesting) non-promotional tweets.

Final Thought

If you’re a small business owner using Twitter, go look at your Twitter stream right now. How many of your tweets are conversations? How many are self-promotional and sales-y?

In other words: How followable are you on Twitter?

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  1. Delic says:

    So, I guess this could be applied to other social medias as well..? What if you’re using “old fashion” promoting?

    • Matt McGee says:

      Hi Delic — yes, I think to some degree it could and would apply to other networks, too. It’s a bit different on Facebook and Google+ because if someone is looking at your stream (account home page), they won’t necessarily see all the replies you may have left. They’ll only see the main posts.

      @Ricky – sounds like you’re doing it well.

  2. Ricky Potts says:

    I like the graph… because I try to have a balance with my tweets. I have posted a lot of tweets… and I mean a LOT of tweets. But over 85% of them are replies. I go out and I find conversation. I don’t just push and tell people how great I am. I hope they figure that out along the way! I also RT content that is interesting to me. I write a lifestyle blog, so I find stuff relevant to golf, music, video games, beer, travel… it all matters to me, therefore it matters to my .com, and hopefully will matter to my readers and my followers.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this. Good stuff!

  3. The answer to your question in the title of this post is “not very”…..after reading this anyway. The only good news is that I’ve kept a safe distance with the self-promotional tweets.

  4. Vasko says:

    There are still some Twitter profiles that get huge success and do not engage in discussions. GuyKawasaki is one example who succeeded with the strategy of using Twitter as a media channel for posting great amount of links.

    Like your idea presented in the pie 🙂
    In order to become part of the community you need to be active in it.

    • Matt McGee says:

      That’s true, Vasko, but my assumption is that the audience that reads this blog does not have the name recognition that Guy Kawasaki has. He’s been very open from the beginning about what his Twitter channel is. He’s not using Twitter to connect with customers or prospects in the same way that many small business owners are, so I’m not sure the comparison really works in this case.

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