Sword and the Script

To follow or not to follow, that is the question


by Frank Strong

Businesses with a Twitter handle might wonder, do I follow or not?

Twitter applications like Twinfluence and Klout, while interesting, and perhaps useful, have twisted some corporate types into thinking that it’s better to follow less and have more followers. It pads your stats, boosts your ranking and proves nothing other than your the winner of a popularity contest.

Breaking news on Twitter today: high school is behind you.

Social media isn’t about popularity. At least it shouldn’t be about popularity (maybe it’s different for A-list celebrities, but my background is in business). It ought to be about connecting with people, and if your Twitter handle represents a business, social media is about connecting with customers, prospects and critics alike: anyone who is interested in your business.

Think of it in terms of a balance sheet: Assets + Liabilities = Owners Equity

When my professional peers suggest it’s more advantageous to rack up followers without following back, I enjoy throwing out three semi-famous examples.

  • @KarlRove – politics aside, and love him or hate him, the dude follows people back. Nearly equal in his collection of 70,000 some followers and people he follows. And he Tweets back (sometimes). Who would have thought little old me would ever connect with Karl Rove? Not likely before the advent of Twitter.

  • @JessicaKnows – mom blogger turned PR agent, and who has admirably weathered some controversy, strikes a balance of about 20,000. She attends to her flock quite diligently. You talk to her intelligently on Twitter, you’ll get a response.

  • @dmscott – famous author, blogger and PR guru often found on the speaking circuit also sits at nearly 20,000 on both sides. This guy commented on this here blog once. He Tweeted a post that referenced his book and brought the most traffic this humble blog has ever seen. I’m an advocate now, more so than I might have been, because I read one of his books and because he connected with me. That will happen to businesses that do the same.

What about competitors? Let them follow. Are you Tweeting trade secrets? Of course not. Businesses always want to be a “leading provider of” whatever…it’s fitting then that your competition follows you.

To follow or not to follow? My professional public relations opinion is black and white: follow.

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