The Twitter How-To Series: Twitter “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Following

Welcome back to my Twitter How-To series! This is Part Two of a series of blog posts that I originally put together for my authors as a publicist to help them with their platforms, and now, I’m sharing them with you. But don’t worry, you can read these in any order.

If you’re looking to grow your audience as a writer and/or author, Twitter is a great place to do it–if you do it right. But a lot of people don’t. Let’s move on to Step Two of Twitter etiquette and strategy: Following!

Twitter “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Following

Do: Follow Relevant Accounts

No one really just gets “found” on Twitter. If you don’t interact with others, no one will know you’re on there.

Of course, you don’t want to just start following people willy-nilly. Why? Here are a few reasons:

  • Following drastically more people than you have followers makes you look like a bot
  • Your feed is going to get cluttered with irrelevant content
  • Who you’re networked with makes you show up to others in algorithms

Thus, if you’re just starting out, you’re going to want to start following new people slowly, maybe five to ten new people a day. What kind of people do you want? There are three main kinds of people to seek out:

  • Industry members. This means other authors, editors, etc. They’re probably connected with people you want to be connected with, and they’re likely to tweet relevant content that you can retweet. (Bonus: you’ll learn stuff.) Also, those in publishing tend to be avid readers themselves.
  • Avid readers of your genre. You can keep up with the bookish community, and they’ll likely follow you back, and see your books.
  • Bookstagrammers and bloggers. These are good contacts for multiple reasons, from posting about things you can interact with, to keeping you up to date on your genre, to offering potential blog spots.

Do: Follow People With More Followers Than You

There are a lot of people out there that fit the categories above. A good strategy when you begin is to follow people with slightly more followers than you. If you have ten followers, follow someone with a hundred. If you have a couple hundred, follow someone with a thousand.

There are a few reasons for this. First, they’re more likely to follow you back. If you follow someone with tens of thousands of followers, you’re just one of many, and your engagement doesn’t matter much–unless you also have tens of thousands of followers. Then you’re also an influencer, and worth interacting with. 

Second, it can give you an idea of how they got to that next step. What are they tweeting? Anything you can learn? You’re not going to be able to tweet the same things as Chris Evans or V. E. Schwab and get engagement. What do people closer to your level do?

This doesn’t mean you can’t follow Chris Evans and V. E. Schwab. It just means that following as many celebrities as you can is not a good strategy.

Don’t: Follow Just to Unfollow

Not only is that rude, but you now have a bunch of artificial followers. You don’t have a relationship with them. And once they realize you pulled a switcheroonie on them, they will probably not only unfollow you but also not like you.

Don’t: Follow Everyone Who Follows You

Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean you need to follow them. If @bot0758363 follows you, don’t follow back. A lot of bots and scammers are going to follow and unfollow you, and if you follow them back, they will likely message you with not nice things. As fun as it can be to mess with the bots until they block you, don’t waste your time.

Also, if someone just completely irrelevant follows you, you don’t have to follow back. If Bob who likes golf and cheers for the Panthers follows you and only posts about sports, then one, why on earth is he following you anyway, and two, he’s not posting anything you’ll want to engage with. (And yes, you will get really random followers. For example, I have a handful of followers who are truckers, and are very proud of 1. being truckers, 2. having guns, and 3. shouting MAGA. Why do they follow a young female middle grade/young adult author? No clue. But I don’t follow them back.)

Don’t: Participate in Follow for Follow Threads


You will see TONS of authors saying, “Let’s do follow for follow! Drop your handle and then follow everyone else on this thread! I gained thousands of followers doing this!”

Sure, they gained thousands of followers. But do any of those followers actually care about their content? No. They just did it so they could get followers. Now you have a high follower count and low engagement, which not only is pointless, but also doesn’t look very good.

Worse, you’re going to be stuck following a LOT of people you don’t want to follow. It’s the moral dilemma of you did a follow thread, so you’re obligated to follow everyone who followed you, but half of them are erotica authors or like to drop F-bombs every few words, and now you, the children’s book writer or inspirational Christian fiction author, are obligated to follow, much to your horror. What do you do?

Just don’t put yourself in that situation in the first place.

Thanks for joining me! My next installment will be Twitter do’s and don’t’s for interacting. Until then, feel free to connect with me on Twitter @alyssawrote.

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