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Twitter - are they worth the follow? 7 things to watch out for before you follow someone on Twitter

I am not a Twitter snob – really – but there are some people who have been using Twitter and think that it’s just a matter of tweeting random musings and links to their own website – or feeding from their Facebook status updates! That’s definitely not the idea.

Those people haven’t gotten the point of Twitter yet. Really there is no point following someone if they don’t know how to use Twitter properly – unless you know them in real life and are planning to gently help them along the way. That’s why I never follow “eggs” (see point 7 below)

Here are the 7 things to look out for

  1. Have they filled out their bio? You get 160 characters to do so – and it’s often the first impression. If someone doesn’t fill this out then they aren’t giving you much information about themselves as a framework.
  2. Look for @replies on their page. If they haven’t got any all the way down their Twitter stream – eg. they haven’t talked to anyone on Twitter for days – perhaps they don’t know how to use this all important feature of Twitter – to talk to other people!
  3. How long has it been since their last Tweet? And how often are they Tweeting? If they only tweet once every few days – well – we all know Twitter isn’t an “occasional habit”!
  4. Look for how they tweet links – do they shorten their urls? Twitter does cut off the links on long URLs but using a shortener is neater. My favourite is – which has the added bonus of useful stats so you can see which of your shared links got more or fewer clicks, at different times of the say.
  5. Are they RTing? Do they use both types of RT – the old fashioned way (best for sharing other peoples link shares) and the new “Twitter Retweet” button way (best for sharing the nice things people say about you on Twitter)? RTing shows that they are watching other people’s tweets and sharing them!
  6. Do they use hashtags? Does it seem like they know what they are for? Hashtags shouldn’t be overused on every word, but to add meaning or a topic to a tweet.
  7. What Twitter “avatar” or profile picture do they have? A close up of their face is best – but you may find they have a full length shot – this isn’t great as it only shows up as a thumbnail. So if they have a full length shot then they need to redo their Twitter avatar. And if they are an EGG (ie. the default picture) – well – don’t bother! Or if you know them and they are nice you can do them a favour and say “don’t be an egg!”

You can of course point them to this blog if you want to – as a way of giving them a little bit of guidance! If there is anything else which makes you decide NOT to follow someone – or if there are any points above that strike a chord – please comment below!

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  1. Stefan

    Great tips. I’d add one more – beware if their entire feed consists of Foursquare check-ins. Nothing spells “impersonal” like a barrage of app-generated location checkins. Not much conversation there!

  2. Karen Haller

    Great tips Keren, good reminders. I also get a bit put off when someone just sends streams of quotes.

  3. Felicity Lerouge

    Thanks for reminder us about Twitter ettiquette, Keren. I find it boring if people just send streams of links and never interact, or don’t respond when you comment on their post. Someone said Twitter is like a party – and if someone was so boring at a party you’d certainly go and talk to someone more interesting. I have a Twitter cull every few months to weed out people I don’t find engaging any more.

  4. @MichWalkden

    For a Twitter novice and someone who signed on only after the retweet button was introduced, what is the significance of an RT rather than just a direct retweet? And why is it important to use both RT and the automatic button?
    And Karen, I completely agree. Extemely off putting. I challenge these tweeters to come up with thier own scintillating insight so we can all quote them.

  5. Mark Armstrong

    Hey wait– wasn’t that seven things? : )
    Also off-putting: an endless stream of personal @replies (to individuals) that are difficult to put in context. I also think a person’s Twitter wallpaper speaks to their credibility, at least to some extent.
    Excellent post, thanks!

  6. Dr. mohammed A.AlGhaith

    Excellent six points.very guiding,mowever,the type of culture the person is living might interfere when it comes to his/her poersonal judgment.

  7. Deidre Tavares

    Lovely tips. I am following a few people who tweet every minute. Its very irritating. Im new to twitter and I am really enjoying it.

  8. Tamsin Fox-Davies

    Love this list!
    My addition is: Do they ask a lot of questions but never seem to respond to the answers they get?
    That’s just Twam (Twitter-Spam).

  9. Philip Gregory King

    Agreed with most of this although with regards to linking back to your own site, it seems the majority of people use twitter for at least some degree of self promotion. There is no such thing as total altruism right? (Resisting urge to add my site link here)

  10. khaled

    for me the most important thing is what they tweet about

  11. Lyuba

    Great post Keren!
    Another thing that I always encourage my clients to be cognizant about when deciding who to follow is the ration of followers, following and tweets. Broadcast accounts will typically have significantly more followers than the account is following. Someone who has a high number of fans and very few tweets has a high likelihood of being a spammer.