Tweet Before You Follow

March 5, 2009

Who is the unknown follower? WHO??

Photo by bugeaters (license), adapted by Jon Reid

Your Twitter updates or “tweets” are the most important part of the first impression you present on Twitter. But if you’re just getting started and haven’t yet posted anything, you’re a big blank! If you begin following me (and I don’t know you), what am I to make of you?

Let’s apply the Golden Rule and turn the tables, because you will eventually be followed by people you don’t know: You receive an email that “Joe Bob is now following you on Twitter!” but you don’t know any Joe Bob. Who is this person, you wonder? Do you want to follow them back? The main way you will decide is by scanning their updates, so you click to see their profile and… it has no tweets. You are left in mystery.

Don’t put others in that same situation! Twitter abhors a vacuum. Before you follow even one person, tweet something. It could be any combination of:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Greet the world
  • Say you’re a Twitter newbie, and ask for advice

What else would be helpful or engaging in one’s early tweets? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Before You Sign Up for Twitter series:

  1. How to Choose Good Twitter Names
  2. Your Twitter Profile and First Impressions
  3. Twitter Background: Don’t Do It!
  4. Tweet Before You Follow

More Twitter resources:


Jon Reid

Posts Twitter Google+

As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

7 responses to Tweet Before You Follow

  1. You are making the assumption that twitter relationships should be symmetrical, or reciprocal. I don’t believe they are or should be.
    That type of relationship makes sense for services like facebook, where you are setting up a circle of friends. The twitter protocol and service doesn’t promote or require this, and it is equally as useful as a broadcast mechanism with one to many or many to one relationships.
    I know of people who have never sent a tweet and don’t plan to. Yet they follow tens of others. They are using it similar to an RSS aggregator.
    Another group of twitterers follow almost no one and serve as a broadcaster that people subscribe to.
    I think that it should be encouraged for users to at least put a meaningful Bio on the site and maybe provide a more useful set of default Avatars for people to choose from.

  2. Tim,
    You’re right, the asymmetry of Twitter is the biggest difference from Facebook. The distinctions you draw are helpful, and I want to point people to your excellent post analyzing Twitter followers in more detail. One of the great things about Twitter is that it can be used in so many different ways.
    But when someone follows you, don’t you look to see if you want to follow them back?
    How about this: If someone is planning to use Twitter just to follow others, why not post one tweet saying so? Then those who are followed can quickly glance and say, “Oh, this is a silent reader,” and move on.
    As for meaningful Bio, yes. 🙂

  3. I don’t think those who plan to use Twitter just to follow are reading blogs like this one. I think your audience wants to learn how to use Twitter to engage with potential clients and/or people with similar interests. I know that I never follow back someone who has no updates. To me, this is spam.

  4. Thanks again, Deborah. To be honest, I’m not sure what sort of people are reading this! But like you, I’m vary wary of following anybody with no updates.

  5. hello , well im a newbie and and gathering info on how to tweet!
    thanks for the info! – jamnsouli

  6. Jam, you’re welcome! I hope it helps you get the most out of Twitter.

  7. Your blog were very helpful. It is a good place to start off on ” all about twitter and tweets”. Thanks