Twitter is a great little micro-blogging site that lets you spread your message across the globe in an instant. Well, that is assuming that you have enough followers that want to retweet your stuff of course.
Auto following services
But how does one get that following? One way of building up your numbers is to make use of an auto follower service such as SocialOomph, SocialToo or HootSuite. It’s actually really simple, you click on to one of these sites, authorise your account with Twitter and click the auto follow option. Within a minute or so, your Twitter account is now set to automate who you follow.
Marian Schembari wrote an article (Pardon My Bitchfest: Marketers who don’t get social media should just stay away) about how auto followers will only lead to spam which I found interesting. Marian and I have different views on this, she pretty much hates it and I can see her point but I still use an auto follower as it’s helping me grow my network.
What type of networker are you?
I believe it comes down to your approach on networking. For instance, I accept all LinkedIn invites that come my way (unless the person has exclamation points in their name), even though I don’t know them personally. My networking philosophy is basically the more, the merrier and as long as I am not bombarded with spam it’s all fine. Some will take a much more selective approach, see more at 3 Ways to Network on LinkedIn.
Some call open networking the “spray and pray” approach or whatever, the point is that it works. If your goal is to extend your network in order to spread your gospel, being an open networker is the way forward in my humble opinion.
If you are looking to maintain and preserve your network as it is, you probably don’t want to use auto followers at all. Just like you are probably not interested in going to a networking event and handing out business cards as you already have a strong network to leverage from.
Back to Twitter, I have always used an auto follower service and it has worked well for me. Let’s investigate the case for and against auto followers.
The case in favor of auto following
You keep people happy – some Tweeters will be offended if you don’t follow them back. That may be a bit silly but even if you want to, you will struggle to keep track of everyone that starts following you. To avoid the chore of clicking the follow back button all day long, the auto follower does it for you.
You build up a bigger following – you are more likely to attract other users on Twitter when you use an auto follower. This is because everyone wants to be followed back and when they see that you seem to be doing that to your fans, they will go ahead and follow as they expect you to reciprocate. More followers means greater chances of your tweets being retweeted.
You avoid pump and dump – this means you won’t have a problem with people following you and then quickly unfollowing just to inflate their own figures. But how is that you say? Because the auto follower is also an auto un-follower, so it dumps whoever dumps you (if only it could work in the world of dating I hear you think).
The case against auto following
You literally follow everyone back, including spammers. There is no way of weeding out the spammers from the legitimate Tweeters. If you think that you will be judged by who is following you on Twitter, this will probably put an end to your auto following plans.
Your home feed will be cluttered with tweets from random people looking to peddle blue pills or Nigerian T-bonds. The solution to this problem is one of sacrifice and organization. You have to set up lists for the people you really want to see updates from. Once the list is set up, you will use the list feed as your home screen – effectively dumping your real and spammed out home screen.
The case is fairly clear and to me it simply comes down to the purpose of your Tweeting and the approach you take to networking. There is not right and wrong as the cliché goes, just be aware of the consequences of using an auto follower versus not doing it.
Do you use an auto following service? Is it a spam magnet or plain sailing?