How to avoid being a Twitter Twerp!

March 15, 2009

[Part  2 of my Domaining on Twitter series.  Part 1 is located here.]

If you are new to Twitter, you may be tempted to follow everyone in sight trying to build your list of followers quickly.  In this post, I’ll give 5 tips to increase your chances of being followed and some advice to avoid being penalized for excessive following.

Don’t look like a newbie or a spammer

The first thing you want to do is to take a few minutes to customize your Twitter profile.  Why? Because that’s what people see when deciding whether to follow you back.   Spammers are notorious for not taking the time to change the default brown icon (called a brownie) and for not including a web site URL.   As a result,  many Twitter users ignore these types of follow requests and some use Twitter’s ‘block’ command to report them as spam.

1. Take a minute to upload a photo of yourself,  or logo or graphic that describes your business.   Even if you don’t have anything great, just uploading something will set you apart.   Don’t skip this step, even if you have to upload a stock photo – you can always change it later.

2. Enter the URL of your web site. If you have a company site great.  A  personal blog is good too.   Or you could enter the URL of your LinkedIn profile if you have one.  Don’t have any of those? Many people just glance at the URL and don’t take the time to visit the site, so even a ‘coming soon’ page may be worth listing.  Tip: Only the first 17 characters of your URL are displayed in your profile, so skip the ‘www.’ (e.g. to save space.

3. Post something in your bio field. This should be a well-crafted description designed to get people interested in following you.  It can be detailed and professional or short and casual.  If you want to connect with domainers, you can improve your follow rate by including the word ‘domain’ or ‘domaining.’

4. Post at least 5 Tweets. Nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t use Twitter.    Being new is ok, not posting anything isn’t.   Not sure where to start?  How about an initial tweet about how you are new to Twitter.  Follow it up later  with a description of what you just did (e.g.  followed 10 of my favorite domainer bloggers).  Then post a URL or two that you found interesting – maybe something you read on   Almost anything is ok, but don’t post affiliate links or spammy stuff.

Congratulations.  You just set yourself apart from thousands of spammers and one time Twitterers.  Now your follow requests stand a chance of being followed…

5. What your following / follower ratio says about you…

The next thing people look at when deciding to follow you is your following/follower ratio or Twitter ratio.    I typically come across four types of users…

Followers – Typically following 1-100 users with nobody following them.  Probably spend minimal time on Twitter, just using it as a one way source of information.

Normal users – Well balanced ratio.  Either 1 to 1 or following as many as 20% more than are following them.   Probably more active and likely to engage in two way discussion.

Power users / Internet celebs – They follow a reasonable number of people, but are followed by thousands.   These people are generally well known, and include high powered bloggers, well known businesses and even celebrities.   Examples include SEO guru Aaron Wall (232/5,722), marketer Andy Beal (187/7,858) and blogger Brian Clark (497/17,665).  Some Twitter users view this kind of ratio as a status symbol (see What is your Twitter Ratio and Twitter Grader)

Aggressive followers / spammers.   More likely to be concerned with pumping up their number of followers, often regardless of quality.   Often following many more times the number of people than are following them (e.g. following 1000 people with only 200 followers).  I often ignore requests from these types of users or am at least more skeptical of their requests.  There is even a service called Twitter Twerp Scan which helps find and unfollow these types of followers.

Important:  It is possible to be banned by Twitter for excessive following.  What’s excessive? They don’t say, but their spam policy says that it looks at the number of users who have blocked you (relative to those following you) to determine spam.  Twitter caps follow rates at 20% for users who reach 2000 followers, so this may be a good guideline to use as you build more followers.

I sometimes see people following 5 times their number of followers, but I don’t personally feel comfortable doing it.   When I first had less than a hundred followers, I tried to keep my ratio under 2 to 1.  Now with more than 500 followers,  I try to keep my ratio under 20% and I hand review each requester’s profile and their recent posts.


Now that your profile looks respectable and you know how your follow ratio effects the way you are viewed,  have fun exploring Twitter and expanding your network.  Take your time , try to make your Tweets interesting and don’t get too carried away with that follow button!

p.s. If you found this post helpful, please consider helping spread the word by clicking on the following button to automatically retweet this post on Twitter.


Related Links:

5 Ways to Find Fellow Domainers on Twitter

Why most domainers don’t get Twitter at first…

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Armer 03.16.09 at 3:41 am

Great post!

The follow:tweet ratio is usually the best sign of a sketchy account.
For example, 1987/145/1 would tell me they followed the initial max of 2000, got 145 people who auto follow and only made one post. Add no avatar to that and it doesn’t look good.

Sometimes these are just people who have gotten bad advice on “super amazing follower getter” type sites which is unfortunate.

Jeremy Armer 03.16.09 at 3:43 am

I forgot to say in my example they also got blocked by 13 people which could get the account suspended.

admin 03.16.09 at 4:44 am

Thanks Jeremy. Good point about estimating how many people blocked their accounts by subtracting 1987 from 2000. Just updated my post to mention how Twitter uses the number of people who block you (relative to your number of followers) when banning accounts.

Bill 03.16.09 at 4:45 am

I just started using Twitter a couple weeks back. It takes a little patience to build up your following. I’ve got an email newsletter with plenty of subscribers. I thought mentioning my twitter account in the newsletter would instantly get me hundreds of followers but it didn’t work out that way. It’s a different channel and I think domainers are just now starting to embrace it.


Blake Worthington 03.16.09 at 7:47 am

Just joined twitter actually this week…still learning about how to obtain folks from the domaining niche to follow..Not sure if there is a list of popular folks to follow but I’m finding my way slowly but surely got 3 followers so I guess I’m doing something ok :)

Great post also used a bit of the advice as well filling out profile etc.

DNhop 03.16.09 at 6:46 pm

I have not been using Twitter all that long but one thing that amazes me is this;

people literally take the “What are you doing?” to heart and post every thing they are doing when they do it.

Is the world really ready to find out what you are watching for TV tonight or what color should you paint your fingernails? And should the toenails match?

I am not sure how to classify this type of information. Is there a name for it?

Is it LifeSpamming?

admin 03.16.09 at 8:07 pm

Blake: Glad to hear the advice was helpful. Checkout my latest post for some tips on finding fellow domainers on Twitter.

DNHop: I agree and wish they would change it to something like ‘tell us something interesting that’s going on right now.’ I like the LifeSpamming label. is available in case you want to grab it and set up a rant site :)

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