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Twitter Tips and Best Practices - Part 1

How to Follow People on Twitter to Build Your Business Network


Manny Hernandez, a Cornell graduate, is a social media expert and entrepreneur.

Manny Hernandez, a Cornell graduate, is a social media expert and entrepreneur. He is the author of "Ning for Dummies" and has been featured prominently on national television, in magazines, and on NPR.

Manny Hernandez

Interview With Social Media Exerpt, Entrepreneur, and Author, Manny Hernandez

Interview Date: October 20, 2009

About Manny Hernandez: Mr. Hernandez is widely recognized expert in social media and community building. A successful entrepreneur, he is the founder of estudiabetes.com and tudiabetes.com, and co-founder and president of a global nonprofit, Diabetes Hands Foundation.

Mr. Hernandez is the author of "Ning for Dummies" and contributing author of a soon-to-be-released book on Twitter called, "Twitter for Dummies."

You can follow Manny on Twitter at twitter.com/askmanny or visit his bilingual blog to get more tips on social media and online community building strategies.

WIB: Thank you for offering your expertise and tips to help others understand how to use Twitter for their businesses. My first question is about "following" other people on Twitter. Should we follow other people?

MH: It's my pleasure to share a few Twitter tips and best practices.

You don't have to follow other people on Twitter - there are no rules that say you have to. But if you don't follow others, people will see you as just pushing information rather than participating in conversations. If you are seen as a participant more people will follow you.

If you look at tudiabetes and estudiabetes on Twitter, you will see I follow others to create hubs of common themed Twitter users.

WIB: I am glad you clarified this because I think a lot of Twitter users (myself included) are reluctant to follow others for fear it will "water down" the impact of their own Tweets. Do you have any tips for following others?

MH: Twitter offers two ways of finding other Twitter users you might want to follow. You can find individuals using the "Find People" feature. Type in a keyword that relates to your own Tweets and anyone who uses that keyword in their Twitter account name will appear in the search return.

Another way to find people to follow is by using the "Search" feature. Type in keywords that are important to your own interests and Tweets and other people using those keywords in their Tweets will appear in the search results.

You can also look at who is following you. If they are interested in your Tweets they might also be Tweeting about things that are of interest to you and your own followers.

Before you follow anyone, visit their Twitter account site. Their name and Tweets might have matching keywords but you also want to be sure they are not marketers or spammers. You also will do better to follow active users who Tweet often about common interests. If they have not Tweeted in the past month their account might not be active.

You should also consider the ratio of how many followers someone has to how many people they are following. Mass Marketers [who you may not want to follow] usually follow thousands or tens of thousands of other people indiscriminately. They will not be providing Tweets of interest to your followers.

WIB: What about following celebrities and "power users?"

MH: I don't follow celebrities because they have so many followers and the volume of Tweets they get make it ineffective for business use. You want to stick to following people who Tweet about similar things. A benefit of following someone is that you can direct message them so your Tweet to that individual can be sent privately. You cannot have a private conversation [through direct message Tweets] unless you follow them first.

I do not recommend using software to automatically follow other people. You should follow people only after you have personally checked out who they are and what they are Tweeting about.

WIB: Will building your Twitter base by following more people help you get in the "Twitter Trends" promotion?

MH: It is really hard to get into trending. We once had 1,500 people Tweeting per hour about tudiabetes.com and we still did not show up in the trends.

Don't worry if you never make it into Twitter trends, you can still build your business by promoting your Twitter account on your website or blog and by following the right people.

WIB: What about blocking followers? Is that considered rude?

MH: It is not rude. If a marketer with a mission is following you, a spammer, or porn promoter, you probably want to block them. It is harder when you need to block someone because they are rambling off topic all the time but you have to consider the time and interests of all your followers.

As a general rule:

  • Follow people you find relevant;
  • Follow people you care about; and
  • Follow others following you who are interesting.

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