Who’s Really Listening to Your Tweets?

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Are you frustrated with the lack of interaction or response on your Twitter account?  Have you ever wondered if anyone is really listening to the valuable information you’re tweeting?

You’ve done your research on how to use Twitter effectively.  Your tweets are informative, thought-provoking, and engaging.  Your follower count continues to rise each week.  Where are the results you were promised by the gurus?

Does this sound familiar?  You’re not alone.  About three weeks ago, I became so frustrated that I started a new account fully intending to let my existing account gather dust.  This sounded a lot better in theory than it was in practice.

Where Did My Twitter Strategy Go Wrong?

A week into my new account something was gnawing at me.  If I didn’t know where I went wrong, wouldn’t I be right back here in a few months making the same mistakes?

Follow Back Lists

Like it or not, we all have a herd mentality.  We’re more inclined to think someone with 100,000 followers is more credible than someone with 50 followers.

It’s takes time (or a lot of money) to generate traffic to your site and to start building a following through RSS subscriptions.  It’s much easier to slap a Twitter follower count badge on your site, and utilize a follow back list to boost your numbers quickly.

I employed this strategy my first month, but even though my follower counts were climbing nobody was listening to my tweets.  How did I know?  I wasn’t listening to theirs either.  It looked good on a badge, but that was it.

Twellow Pages & Keyword Lists

Using a Twitter directory, or a list generated from keywords tweeted, is actually a great way to build a targeted follower count.  These are people who are interested in the topics you tweet about.

The problem is that most of us use the old spaghetti-on-the-wall method when it comes to these lists.  We follow everyone on the list and see who sticks.  If they don’t follow us back we flush them.

This used to be much easier to do when Twitter allowed automated unfollowing.  Easy or not, employing this method is not much better than the follow back list approach.

Automated Following

While Twitter has banned automated unfollowing of people who do not follow you, they’re still in favor of automated following.  It’s a little surprising since they’ve argued that following back anyone who followed you was not how Twitter is supposed to work.

Of course, Twitter etiquette has become that unless you’re famous you should follow back anyone who follows you.  Automating this process makes managing your account much easier, except now you must manually remove those who unfollow you.

While reciprocating a follow is the polite thing to do, it has a major flaw – you give up control of your follower list.   Your message of helping abused animals is now tweeted to Forex traders, gun enthusiasts, or Trump network pushers.

Inactive Twitter Accounts

You might just be surprised how many of your followers have become disillusioned with Twitter and flown the coop.  This past weekend I spent several hours combing through my followers and discovered that a good percentage of them are missing in action.

I unfollowed so many people who haven’t tweeted for three months or longer that I stopped for fear my account would be suspended or banned.  No wonder my nearly 5,000 followers were so unresponsive.

With automated following those inactive accounts will continue to gather followers from people who employee the methods above.  One account I unfollowed had over 65,000 followers and had never made a single tweet.

Maybe It’s not About Strategy at All?

In the process of unfollowing all of those inactive followers, I noticed I’m following a lot of people for which I have no interest in what they’re tweeting about.  I also found a few people whose tweets I do care about but were lost in my Twitter stream.

I realized this weekend that while I was frustrated about all of the followers who weren’t listening to me, I’d never stopped to ask myself if I was listening to those I followed.  If I wasn’t listening, then why was I following?

Reciprocating a follow wasn’t something I was doing out of genuine thoughtfulness for that person, it was so they wouldn’t unfollow me and drag my follower count down.  I was one of those people who wasn’t listening.

Does Your Follower Account Really Matter?

Tweeting to a larger audience is better than tweeting to a small audience right?  Yes, but only if your followers are actually following what you’re saying.  Otherwise, it’s more like trying to perform in the middle of Times Square.

Someone will stop and listen to the naked cowboy sing for a minute, but most won’t pay any attention.  They’re just faces in a crowd to you, and you’re a face in the crowd to them.  Wouldn’t a small coffee house setting with fewer people be better?

What Are You Doing?

Do you have a large number of followers on Twitter?  How responsive are they to your tweets?  What percentage interact with you?

Do you have a limited number of followers on Twitter?  Do you experience a high level of interaction with your followers?

What strategies have you employed to increase your follower count?  Has the increase in your follower count helped you?

Article by

Brad's Big Feet Marketing helps people on a limited budget enlarge their online footprint using blogging & social media. His other blog, Marketplace Christianity, examines faith's role in how we earn and spend money.

Brad has written 95 awesome articles for us at Bradley A Harmon

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

mark July 19, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Ha. Hey Brad. Sometimes I think that there is no one at all listening. Of course, my stats tell me different, which is nice of them.

I know what you mean about people getting disillusioned with Twitter. It is not always so easy to see the payoff, and even when someone with 4,000,000 followers retweets something, it is not a guarantee of traffic.

I like (and agree with) your conclusion. It makes sense to make friends out there and to stop worrying about it. Really, the connections that we make with other people are what we need.

Have a great day!
mark´s last [type] ..5 Myths About Goal Setting


Brad Harmon July 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I knew there would be some inactive accounts or spammers when I started cleaning up my account, but I was not prepared for how many their were. It made up about a third of my following. Getting followers turns out to be quite easy. It’s getting ones that actually pay attention that take a lot more work. Thanks for your comment.


Sourav July 22, 2010 at 12:35 am

To be true, I don’t have a large number of followers. A reason for this may be that I don’t follow each and every person that I see on Twitter. I am a bit selective and follow only those people who post some useful tweets. And I don’t think that the follower count actually matters if the followers are not interested in the things which I tweet.
Sourav´s last [type] ..6 Do’s For Blog Marketing With Twitter Fail


Brad Harmon July 22, 2010 at 12:46 am

You, my friend, are a very smart man in my book. I have now unfollowed over 3,000 people on Twitter over the past week. I expect I have another 1,500 or so to go.

Surprisingly, I have only had a net of about 200 unfollow me so far, but I expect my follower count to plummet over the next week or so. My Twitter stream is already much better, but there are still too many tweets on topics for which I am just not interested.

When I am finished, I will be able to effectively use Twitter the way it was originally designed.


Leon de Rijke July 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Nowadays I’m being really selective of whom I follow and who can follow me. I’ve seen too many spam or inactive accounts trying to follow me. I check out the accounts of those trying to follow me and only follow back the people who I think will be a valuable connection.

Over the past year this has led me to some interesting connections, like you, Brad! I see Twitter first and foremost as a connecting tool and less as a broadcast/publishing tool. I’m aware of the fact that I need to better incorporate this vision into my actions…

I’m really looking forward to seeing where your site and community moves to. To me it seems that a change of direction has taken place. Good luck and blessings!
Leon de Rijke´s last [type] ..Relaties leggen is niet zo moeilijk


Brad Harmon July 23, 2010 at 5:47 pm

I think we’re on the same page when it comes to Twitter. I’m in the process of tweaking my social media strategy and hopefully playing to the strengths of each.

Some of the changes to the site have been planned almost from the beginning. For example, this theme is a newspaper styled theme because I’ve always wanted to add staff writers so that it wasn’t just me writing all of the time. I just needed to get everything established with the blog first before I opened it up.

As part of that, I needed to expand the content coverage some to accommodate new writers. I think that has surprised me the most, because the Christian Marketplace category was not one I was anticipating adding. I hope the Lord has someone (hopefully more than one) to help write posts for that category.

The Digital Footprints category is probably the one that I’m still trying to figure out. It seems to attract a completely different community to the site, and I wonder if it wouldn’t be better off as it’s own site.

I’m pretty sure that we’ll see a new name and domain sometime in the future to better reflect the expanded vision. We’ll see where God ends up taking us. I’m excited to be along for the ride. :)


Will September 5, 2010 at 2:45 am

Hi Brad,

Love this post – and just sent out a couple of tweets about it.
I wonder if they’ll lead to any new comments here?!?
Hope so….

All the best
Will´s last [type] ..Noaspa News – 01092010


Brad Harmon September 6, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Thanks Will. It looks like your tweets worked.


Shabnam Sultan September 5, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Nice read :) i don’t have much Twitter followers as don’t follow everyone who follows me.
Shabnam Sultan´s last [type] ..Free iPhone memory space with Free Memory app


Brad Harmon September 6, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Now that I got a handle on my followers, I’ve started following people back that look like they’re actually people who interact with others. I’m using HootSuite to monitor my lists, and Tweepi to maintain my followers and determine who to followback. It’s worked much better than when I used the auto-followback tools.


Amos Johnson September 6, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Hi Brad, this is a good article. I am having the same thoughts about twitter. It is good to connect with people on twitter, but it can be hard to find those that are truly interested. So I too I am not following everyone that follows me.


Brad Harmon September 6, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Thanks Amos. I use Tweepi to look at the number of times someone retweets or replies to someone else, and how many times people are doing the same for them. It’s very easy with this tool to see who is interactive and who is not. Sounds like we’re employing the same strategy.


Will September 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Hi Brad,

Thanks for putting me on to Tweepi here – it looks to be really useful and I’ll be following your footsteps there.

Thanks too for your tweet regarding the noaspa campaign which, after 5/6 weeks is beginning to find its feet and has had a reasonable start I think. At the moment it’s mostly about building the foundations of the social media strategy and that’s quite a slow process with so many things going on at work etc. – but I’m managing to do a few hours most days and hopefully it will lead to something sooner rather than later! .

Both voting and network numbers are still small and only growing slowly, but this is neither a surprise or disappointment as this reaction was expected in the early stages. Overall I’m pretty pleased with initial progress – and am reasonably confident that the strategy being developed will work ….but only time will tell! And only time will tell if time will be found to implement the strategy!!


Will´s last [type] ..Noaspa News – 01092010


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