Ted’s Twitter Follow-Back Policy

I’m going to share the policy I’ve been following since my first Tweet in April 2009. It works well for me. You can adopt this policy for yourself or not, as you wish.

Ready? It’s really straightforward.

I follow everyone back on Twitter. (Just about).

There, that’s my policy. Here’s why:

  1. For whatever odd reason, Twitter limits how many people a person follows. If you follow a bunch of “celebrities” and news outlets that don’t follow you back, you’ll hit a wall at 2,000 where you find you can’t follow anyone else. And even if your follow-followee ratio is close enough that Twitter lets you slip past this stupid, arbitrary wall of 2,000, you still have to stay within a close ratio to continue following more people. So any time you don’t follow someone back, you’re limiting who else they can follow. That’s not nice. Be nice.
  2. The friend who introduced me to Twitter explained that automatically following back is the ethic of the medium. It’s what you do, he said. A lot of us still act that way, and so this rule has served me well in making some really cool friends and acquaintances along the way.
  3. In this way, Twitter is pretty much the opposite of Facebook and LinkedIn, where everyone’s always asking, “Do I know you?” This open, “We’re all friends here” culture really works for me. I’m friendly in real life – I’m like a Labrador Retriever – and Twitter lets me be friendly online as well.
  4. Much more importantly (to me), here’s why I follow everyone back: I’m not more important than my followers. Indeed, I’m grateful every single time a person compliments me by following me. It’s their way of saying, “Hi Ted! I want to get to know you better.” For me to snub their kindness would be ungracious – and if I were ungracious, I couldn’t look my Mother in the eye. [I’m on a lifelong crusade against arrogance. We’ll leave it at that.]
  5. On that last point, following back is consistent with my status as a customer service author and leader. How on earth can I tell people to provide Five-Star Customer Service, which is based entirely on manners, when I am impolite myself? So for me, it’s an easy decision.
  6. I know some of you will find these to be strong words, especially that last part. Let me repeat: this is MY follow-back policy. These are my reasons. You may have perfectly legitimate reasons for not observing my practices, and I’m sure they work for you.

Now, it’s time for the caveats:

  1. When I follow a new person, I typically give them a week, maybe two, to follow me back. If they don’t choose to, that’s perfectly fine. But at that point I unfollow them. I literally do not follow a single human who does not follow me as well – at least not for more than a week. No one is that important to me.
  2. I use a client (Hootsuite) to manage my Twitter stream. I basically ignore my “All Friends” feed. Instead I set up columns on Hootsuite that search for key words, hashtags I enjoy, or for lists of special people – my core friends. I recommend you try something similar. (Note: on my iPhone I’ve switched to echo phone. Neither is perfect for the phone. Oh, well).
  3. I regularly check in with Tweepi to manage my list, and to find new people to follow who share my interests, which are mostly business, leadership, social media, and customer service.
  4. Tweepi is great. It lets me find and follow people with similar interests. You can see when they last tweeted, so you can only follow active Tweeters. You can unfollow accounts that are clearly spambots or that have become inactive. Poke around the site. There’s a lot to learn.
  5. One last thing: do I follow wack-jobs, which to me includes some members of fringe political and/or religious groups that offend me? Hmn. I’m always wrestling with this, but typically yes. I figure engagement is a great way to find common ground with those whose views are different from mine. Often, even if their beliefs in one area make me squirm, in many other respects we find all sorts of common ground. If they really, truly alienate me with their tweets, then yes, they’re out. That’s pretty rare, though.
  6. …And I unfollow spammers with impunity. Glee, even. There seem to be more and more every week, and they all suck.
Okay, that’s my short (*ehem*) write-up of my follow-back policy for Twitter. I’m really interested in your comments. I know this one in particular is not universally agreed upon. Let me have it, if you feel so inclined. My favorite thing about Social Media in general is that I’m always learning.
If you HATE my policy, this post is for you: My Most-Asked Twitter Question, Answered.

You’ll also find this worth reading, if just for the great comments: It’s Time to Kill #FF Dead!

This post first appeared on my previous blog. It’s the most popular (and unpopular) post I’ve ever written, hands-down. If I were half as commercially savvy as I should be, I’d focus strictly on social media and give leadership and culture a rest. Again I say, Oh well. I don’t write for the quick hit, I guess.

Explore the rest of Switch and Shift. Welcome to the home of The Human Side of Business!

Photo courtesy of  eldh

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

  • Amy Wells

    Thank you for this information. I was clueless to much of it and it raised a few wuestions for me. How do I know who isn’t following back?

  • ScottAWoodard

    Ted…Interesting post. I have a rather different approach to following folks on Twitter. I follow people because I believe they say something of interest that is important to me. If I follow the links in their tweets, I, usually, get something of significance from them. And, I’ll often retweet their posts.

    I do not follow everyone who follows me. I will look at the profile of those who do follow me, but I don’t automatically follow them. Nor do I track who is following me. My goal, on Twitter, is to learn something new and pass it along. If I’m not learning from someone, I don’t follow them.

    This may be a rather unsophisticated approach to Twitter. But I’ve found that I can be easily overwhelmed by all the incoming information. I’ve also found that there can be a lot of self serving people who are looking to boost their “numbers.” I’ve found it easy to be captive to a lot of the noise on the platform without extracting the value.

    Just one man’s opinion…


  • ken_garman


    Awesome post! This is my strategy as well, for mostly the same reasons. As a leader I believe that good leadership requires love, understanding, and empathy. It also involves listening and learning, knowing that none of us has all the answers. If I want my followers to learn to lead, I must set the example and be open to learning from them as well.

    There are two areas where I usually vary from your method.

    1. is how long I wait for them to follow back. Mostly I’ll give them 2 to 3 weeks, longer if they followers/are followed by more people than I am. With the slightly less than 3,000 people I follow, I may not understand the difficulty of managing an account that size.

    2. I don’t even attempt to follow anyone who appears to not follow anyone back, or only follow their offline friends. For instance, if they have 800 followers but are only following 50 I will not follow them in the first place unless they initiate the connection.

    Again, great post!

    Ken Garman

  • BruceSallan1

    Will you please organize my tweets and followers, Ted? lol…

  • facilserfeliz


    I absolutely agree when you said: “My favorite thing about Social Media in general is that I’m always learning”, and another great thing in social media is that you is always teaching as well! So, you just teach me another thing and I will teach someone else!

    Thank you!! :)

  • philip1

    I’ll follow people who don’t follow me back if their tweets, inspire, motivate and encourage me. I don’t need their follow to make me happy. I do not follow people who tweet nothing but advertisements for their business and offer me no value, my time is valuable and I would rather have just a few good tweets to read than to have to sift through thousands of junky ones to find the people who care about giving more than taking.

    • Vik, if it works for you, how can I criticize?

      I’ve heard from countless people whose timeline is their main feed, as yours is. I recommend against that, as you’ve just read, but if that’s what you choose then yeah, you have to be really careful who you choose to allow in there.

      I actually had trouble with this a long, long time ago – before finding clients like TweetDeck – because my TL was filled by the same couple of people again and again and again – very interesting, which is why I followed them in the first place, but also prolific. Indeed, the way I tweet is often to hop on for 5 minutes, replying and remarking five or ten times, then hop off for another couple of hours. I’ve noticed in these cases that my first tweet may get some attention, but by number four or five, fewer people tune in to what I’m saying.

      I’m writing you a book. Sorry. To summarize: timelines are fine for beginners, but you can do better for yourself.

      Final note: “broadcast” and “social” are mutually exclusive. I applaud you for rejecting broadcasters!

  • vikramadhiman

    My Twitter Follow Back policy:

    # I follow people if I find their tweets interesting.

    # I do not follow people following me, if I think they are bots or just following me for me to follow them and broadcast their message without me being involved

    # And my TL is my main feed

    Here is what is @wiziqcourses [Online courses on WizIQ] policy is:

    # We follow everyone back

    # We also follow interesting people whom we learn from about online education even if they don’t follow us

    # We follow anyone tweeting about us automatically :)


  • Hi Ted,

    Very interesting read on your follow back policy, however I am sure I am in the minority when I say I just don’t understand the “follow me I follow back” policy.

    I understand the politeness of it (after all I am British) but why would anyone want to build a large list of followers where their stream becomes unmanageable, resulting in having to build a subset of those followers which are the ones they actually engage with?

    My policy has always been that I want people to follow me because they they think I produce useful content, and if I don’t then I prefer they don’t follow me.

    On the opposite side of the coin, There are a number of people I follow who don’t follow me back, yet i continue to follow them because their content is interesting and I believe it provides value to my followers through RT’s.

    I really would like to understand as maybe I am missing the point or is just a preference thing?

    However, I truly am thankful for those whom have chosen to follow me and everyday I am inspired by those I follow which in turn hopefully inspires my followers. Which is something I think we do agree on ;-)

    Think I need to give this some more thought….


    Before I will follow someone back, I like to check on how they may have stumbled upon me. If they follow someone already among my followers, I usually follow back immediately. If they found me due to some keyword in one of my posts, I’ll view a few of their tweets just to see if we truly like the same things. If I see a connection, followed. I don’t follow everyone who follows me nor do I take offense if I follow someone who doesn’t follow back. Everyone has his/her reasons for how they handle their Twitter account. I respect that.

    As for following someone who doesn’t follow me back, I don’t really mind. Most times that applies to sportswriters that I follow and I wouldn’t expect them to follow back. What they are tweeting is far more interesting to me than what I’m tweeting out anyway.

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  • Hi Liz,

    You’re right, a large part of it is a preference thing.

    However, there’s one aspect of having a huge Twitter community at your fingertips (literally!) that I think I need to post about: the joy of the random! I do mean this, too: it’s really wonderful to see who you bump into because you’re peripherally connected (through mutual follow) and something you tweet, or they tweet, strikes up a connection that NEVER would have happened otherwise. I can’t tell you how cool this is – you have to experience it for yourself, a lot, before the full wonder really occurs to you.

    This random aspect of Twitter is augmented by your off-topic missives. Some of my most fascinating connections come when I remark on an ice cream flavor or share what quirky little thing my girls say. All of a sudden I’ll hear from a mother in Indonesia or a physicist in South Africa, people who have nothing to do with my core interests – but who are part of the glorious fabric of my social network!

    …All of which is to say, I highly recommend you follow back less selectively ;)

  • Following back will fill your follow list with SPAMMERS. That may have been a good philosophy in the beginning but now you have to be fussy about who you follow and the content of who you follow or else you’re just watching a giant commercial in your twitter feed. I follow back if its a real person, they’re relevant to me and what I do, and/or a fan. I try not to follow brands I’m not interested in or people who tweet uninteresting things.

  • Great suggestions..thanks. Must look in to Tweetdeck and Tweetpi, I don’t use any of these tools.

  • Hi Ted,

    Thankyou so much for the information, I’ve still got a lot to learn about twitter.

    Tweepi is brilliant. I so wish I’d known about it on Sunday before i tried to clean up manually :)

  • Thanks for sharing your follow-back policy. I am still getting the hang of Twitter and found your information to be useful.

  • I agree – always follow back. The only people I don’t follow back are those who tweet in a language I don’t know (like Russian). I know you have translater tools, but with English not being my first language, I know how translaters can (and do) miss the essence.

  • GOOD info…Nice to tweetcha! (O)riginal (G)oddess KEEDAH :-)

  • Hi Ted
    I read all 824 words of your post. Quite understand why this is your most popular post. Love your blunt approach laced with humor (labrador retriever, wackjobs, unfollow with glee). I do most of what you recommend, though I never thought of it is a policy.

    Quick question: Do you follow back guys who may be genuine, authoritative even, except that they post in Russian, Estonian, Turkish, Greek ( I’m guessing)? On the one hand I feel guilty for not reciprocating, on the other I know that we will never have anything to say to each other

    • Raj, that’s a great idea! Finding people with similar or complementary interests… why else are we here?

  • Great to Connect with you this morning Ted…

    Great Article on a point I disagree with so much..
    The main reason is because a follow should be genuine…calculated, an opportunity to fill, a need or a want. What type of relationship can you build brand or personal with that person if they’re one motive, need or want is to build their follower list? Twitter shows these people are rule, and others are the exception.. from my experience, these people aren’t going to RT you, they’re not going to interact with you. You’re a number. How does that help your experience? How does that grow your reason for tweeting?

    Building your follower & Followee through interaction is a slower but more fulfilling relationship builder…I can already tell you Ted I think it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship because we started it by interacting! Not because you followed me or because I followed you.

    Although isn’t it frustrating that Social media is such a wild west right now? I can’t help after reading your points I’m the outlaw on this one haha but sticking to my guns.

  • It seems like the rule of thumb here is “just do what works for you”. My preference is to stick with the principals of How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

    One of them is to be genuinely interested in people and when I do this in Twitter it is very easy for me to follow them, mention them, and retweet and reply to their tweets.

    My recommendation is that if you want to be of real value for those on the platform that are looking to interact and build relationships, specially for the ones you’re following, you don’t want to follow everyone back.

    Related Post: http://info.confluencedigital.com/blog/bid/133485/Learning-Social-Media-Should-You-Follow-Everyone-Back-on-Twitter

  • Great policy. I am new to social media in general and very new to twitter. Reading your policy gave me some great insight to Twitter and the value of following others. I always find interesting things when I follow someone new and I am looking forward to your tweets.

  • I respect your policy but still don’t quite understand how to navigate Twitter in a meaningful way. The courtesy of follow back makes sense, sort of… I want to follow news groups and organizations (whether I agree with them or not) to stay in the know — sort of my own little news ticker. I don’t follow them all in order to be followed back (even though that would be nice). So that takes up many of the follows I’m allowed per Twitter’s limits. I then feel awkward if because I’ve filled up my follow limit, I’m not allowed to follow back a new follower, even if I would like to.

  • What is new for me about what you’re saying, Ted, is that you follow everyone, but that doesn’t mean you’re reading what they’re tweeting. You follow them through Twitter, but you’re choosing what to read through another app. So… I agree, that yes, that is ‘polite’. Courteous. Kind of reminds me of turning down a lunch invitation with a plausible excuse because you don’t really want to spend that much time with an acquaintance. Polite, with a protective distance.

    Until now I have always decided whether or not to follow someone based on whether I planned to read their content. You have split the tasks, so you welcome everyone to send you a letter, so to speak, but that doesn’t mean you’re gonna read all your mail.

    Interesting. Not sure yet where I stand on it.

    If there are a couple of other good reasons to use the apps you present, that approach probably makes sense. However, at this current moment, when I am actually reading tweets in twitter, it only makes sense for me to follow those whose tweets I’m going to read. Seems to me that those accompanying apps are the key to your chosen level of courtesy… agree? no?

    Thanks for a stimulating conversation!

  • Hi Ted,
    I have two questions. First, as I am new to social media in general and Twitter especially, I can’t figure out how people find each other to follow. For example, in my email this morning, there was a message that you were now following me. Thank you! How did you find me and why did you decide to follow me?
    Secondly, do you review books prior to their publication and is it way too presumptive of me to ask you to review one that I’ve written? I understand if your answer is “No.” I’m not sure I’d review someone’s manuscript that I just met. I look forward to opportunities to visit over leadership ideas.

  • Thanks! I love this policy—mind if I use at as a framework for mine?!?! Thanks again @richardbrashear

  • Ted nice tips, I find them very useful. I have been trying to get followers back on my personal twitter account but not succeding. I presently follow about 450 tweeps, with only 92 followers. Pls wat do u advice i do?

  • Ted – firstly thanks for following me back and just read your follow back policy and signed up to Tweepi and just got rid of a bunch of people that are not following my company twitter so thank you for your help. I’m learning about social media everyday, and today you have taught me something new which is much appreciated. I just hope I keep you as entertained with our tweets to keep you following us!

    I’m running our start-up businesses social media (www.survey-me.co or @Survey__Me) and learning as I go so I will watch out for your tweets with interest. We run a smartphone real-time customer feedback app which can also be used via the web. Its the first of its kind to offer insights/feedback and allow the business to reward people for giving feedback. Its really quite cool and so many uses!

    Thanks again for your help and thoughtful insights

  • Seems like an enlightened policy to me. Would you be willing to review my book on marriage, sex and relationships?

  • What a fantastic Philosophy. Straight shooter, with no grey areas! My style. Thanks for the follow. Returning the follow now.

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  • Thank you for breaking this down for me. I have been using Twitter consistently for about two and a half months and are still pretty much clueless about still how to effectively use it. What I had been using it for was for some people I had friended who are not on FB, so I had linked Twitter to my FB account and just posted stuff to Twitter and then it automatically posted to FB, basically killing two birds with one stone. And then of course I’d follow people on here who interested me, like horse-related people because I ride horses and stuff, some humor related stuff. And then it seems like in the past few weeks I had an explosion of followers, much to my surprise, which I do not know which happened, which of course pleased me. I had followed back out of courtesy. But after reading your guidelines here, I think I am going to adopt them. I have started using Tweetdeck on my desktop. I do not have a smartphone, just a cheap touch phone from Straightalk that just has a Twitter app on it. Someday, maybe a high-end smartphone *fingerscrossed*. Lotta financial stresses going on… :(( So I am still trying to educate myself to use Twitter and still have to do Google a lot of stuff. Yesterday, I had to Google #teamfollowback and figure out what that was, for example. And again, thank you for the follow and for the informative information on your site which I have spent some time pursing around on here. :)

  • Thanks for sharing your follow policy up front and thank you for following me (@blogathon2)

    I do not follow everyone back (although I will be following you, because you seem interesting) for some of the reasons mentioned above by others. As for putting those you follow in lists/categories so you can see who is really important to you,I hate twitter lists. I do use them and this account isn’t so bad but my @callista83 account, I followed thousands of users before knowing how to use lists and now it would be too much work to go through and categorize everyone. Also there are plenty of people who have followed me over there that I DO want to follow back but I am just really behind (like months and months behind) on doing so because I acquire new followers at such a large rate. So my ratio isn’t where I want it to be but it’s hard to find those I want to follow back.

    As for not following back meaning others can’t follow more, that’s not my problem. They are either mass following (which the following limit is designed to prevent) or they are only on twitter to claim extra entries in blog giveaways and don’t have actual content anyone would want to follow (except other sweepers)

  • Ted, I read your follow back policy with interest and learned a few new things about Tweepi. First and foremost, you are a great writer and remind me of how wonderful Twitter is as a place for people to gather and share thoughts. But you raise the bar on a the essential question: what exactly is the reason I am on Twitter? While I still working that out, and am not ready to share that just yet, I do want to ask what you think about lists. I do not see much written about Twitter lists and I am wondering if is one of the underrated aspects of the Twitter experience.

    For instance, when I started using Tweepi, I too decided to not follow anyone back that does not follow me. But I decided to put them on my lists so that I could still benefit from their contributions. I learned that even though they did not follow, important interactions could still occur and result in them becoming a new follower. Most people do not know that you can have someone on a list whom you don’t follow.

    I am way down on the follow-follower ratio because I do think that if I have a follower, I have an obligation to read and interact. Realistically this happens in a small time frame during the day, but while reading my stream, I do not want to spend time scrolling through uninteresting, unhelpful posts. However, your Tweepi strategy may change this approach. Thanks again.


    p.s. if anyone happens to look, my website is currently under brief re-construction!

  • Diana Crosswhite

    Thanks for sharing this. I will use it.

  • Hi Ted

    You just followed me and I immediately followed back! What’s your view on Shoutouts? I have a large following (like you) and am constantly asked for Shoutouts.

    I use TweetAdder to manage my Twitter. But the issue I run into all the time is that Twitter also has a Follow limit of 1,000 per day. The time of day that it shuts off seems to be random. So, it’s hard to follow-back everyone when Twitter prevents you!

    Take care,


  • Hey Ted!
    Nice to meet you. Love this post, it almost exactly mirrors my own personal policy. I normally don’t talk about this, but I also try to be kind. Manners and kindness are the two things I try to have as I interact. I have met (online and in real life) some of the coolest people around. I think twitter is and has changed the world…. Talk more in the twitverse! @kimbamcmichael

  • “4.Tweepi is great. It lets me find and follow people with similar interests. You can see when they last tweeted, so you can only follow active Tweeters.”

    Thanks for the advice about how you use Tweetdeck and Tweepi.

    I don’t tweet often. That doesn’t mean I don’t lurk, though. I just don’t tweet until I have something important to say.

  • Hey Ted,

    Brilliant. Thanks for putting into writing what I’ve been practicing lately! I’m going to share this.

    And Merry Christmas in a little while… ;-)

    Cold greetings from Denmark! (minus 8 Celsius)

  • Great post, and thank you for following me on Twitter – curious as to how you found me :)

    I follow the same policy EXCEPT in one situation: I have had people follow me who post obscene content. I will not follow these people as I work with children, and having them in my list is just not OK in the working with children world. I know I can just flag the content, but really… I’d rather just not follow them. Hopefully this is an OK policy, too :)

  • I so love this post. I am new to Twitter, and was a bit unsure of how to handle all this follow-back stuff. Your policy is quite yogic, in fact, and therefore I love it.

    Thank you!

  • The above commenter made the point I was going to make, only I do not deal with children. I will follow everyone who follows me, with the exception of those who post vulgar, pornographic, profanity laced content. I just don’t need to see that (guarding MY eye gate). Other than that, I am appreciative of anyone who follows me and certainly will return the favor. As you said, quite differant from other platforms where you keep your guard up. On Twitter, you can act like you are from the South (which I am) where everyone spoke on the street, stopping to chat at times. Thanks for the follow!

  • Hi Ted. I am your new follower on Twitter. Pleased to meet you. Absolutely agree with what you said about not being so important that you can’t follow someone back. I also follow everyone back. However, those that need to approve their followers first, I do not follow. I just delete and move on. Nobody is that important that I need their approval to follow them. What utter arrogance!

    Several times I got the message that I had a new follower. Great! I followed them back only find they had to “approve” me first. Well, I just went back and unfollowed them.

    I will follow back anyone who follows me and with pleasure. My approval is never needed.

    Looking forward to reading your tweets.


  • Barb, right there with you! Besides I see a lot of automatic generated THX for following comments – and they just don’t work for me. Totally impersonal and just not-very-twitter-like….

  • I like it. This is the first article about tweeting that is not only polite and respectful, but helpful as well. Thank you for following me!


    • It’s just fun, Dora. Keep that in mind, and you’ll be an expert in no time!

  • Hello Ted,
    Thank you very much for this information. This is all so very new to me. There is so much to learn

  • Annetta Powell

    Hi Ted,

    Great policy here. I am writing an article about Twitter cleaning and have a good resource for reference. Keep up the good work and nice to connect with you in Twitter.

  • Great data – thanks!

  • Robbie Paixao

    I find your comments interesting and understand why you wrote it out. No misunderstanding that way. Thank you. I am still learning how to use hash tags and am not good at it.Yet.

  • jafroemming77@yahoo.com

    Great explanation…thank you…I didn’t know about the limits placed on you by ‘not following’ :-)

  • Hi Ted!

    I just got followed by you and because your bio captured my interest I followed you back and I’m looking forward to learn from your tweets!

    I just have one question about your follow back policy to make sure I got your point right:

    Although you believe that following someone back is “the polite thing to do” you also ” basically ignore my “All Friends” feed”.

    This means that while you’re following me, if I don’t tweet the special keywords that you’re looking for OR if I’m not on your core friend list, you’ll basically never see me, right?

    So my question is: why bother to look polite by following someone back if you’re not interested to know what they have to say? Isn’t their bio and their last tweets enough information for you to decide if their worth to follow back?

    I don’t have a policy but I do have a strategy: if your bio and your last tweets are aligned with what I want to learn or become, I will follow you. If your my customer, I will follow you. If your my competition, I will follow you! If you challenge me, I will follow you. If you support me, I will follow you.

    Basically, if you help me grow and become a better version of my self, I will follow you. Not because that’s the polite thing to do, but because that’s who I am.

    I’m looking forward for your thoughts on this!

  • Hi Ted,

    What a great post! My method has been a little different than yours, although I can’t disagree with anything that you wrote.

    Whenever I get a new follower, I will interact with them as soon as I know they’re following. I’ll comment on a tweet or just reach out and say hello. If they don’t engage me back within the next few days, I delete them.

    I look at Twitter as a way to network and get to know people who I may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet in person. I’m not interested in following if the person cannot take two seconds to say hello and is just following because they want to pad their numbers with a follow back. It’s never been about the quantity of followers for me, it’s about the quality of what we can offer one another by connecting.

    After all this time- I joined Twitter late 2008- I’m still amazed by how many people just don’t get it and don’t answer back.

    I think I follow you on Twitter, but if not I’ll find you and follow you today. I really enjoyed your post!


  • Thank you for a message that resonates deeply with me.

    I, too, have struggled with following people who follow me who have stances I don’t want to be associated with so there have been a few I chose not to follow. I totally agree with your perspective about engagement being the way to find common ground.

    I see a common ground with everyone when we dig down through the top layers and get to the core of who we all are. I am working on a White Paper that speaks about this and how it can pave the way to peaceful relationships of all types – including world.

    Do you ever feel your own message is distorted by association? I’ll give this some more thought. I may have been treating who I follow more like I would on Linkedin.

    Thank you for stating your policy so clearly. It is refreshing.

    ? Jeanine

  • Linda Long

    Hi Ted,

    Nice to meet you. I am a newbie and have really no idea what I’m doing! Your post was very helpful and has given me a little more confidence in joining in. Thank you! Oh also, I don’t understand the whole hashtag thing. Is there a post or Blog I can read on that? I’m 50+ and pretty much clueless but, I’m still dipping my toe in the water! I’m just afraid of Sharks!

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  • Interesting how we have a different perspective on the arrogance part. I do feel uncomfortable being followed by people I don’t want to engage with, and I’m usually very friendly so engage with many people. However following back for niceness and not real interest still feels like feeling more important than them to me.

  • Thanks, this is very helpful information, Ted!

  • Thanks Ted – this is very thought-provoking. 

    My question for you is this: 

    Since you ignore your “All friends” feed and ask for no DMs, what’s the purpose of following people? (other than helping them maintain their follow-followee ratio as you describe up top)

    In other words, how do either you or I benefit from your following me?



    Edit: I see that this is the same question as asked by Bruno. I’ll look forward to your blog post for an answer!

  • Informative Twitter information! Thank you for first following me.

  • Chase Berger

    Follow me, I follow everyone back!!!


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  • Finally, after a couple of years of rumination on this topic, I’ve figured out how to explain how following so many people works for me. Submitted for your approval: 


    If you still hate my follow-back policy after reading that post, please let me know in the comments there. 

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  • Map Me To

    Thanks for the follow. Great post! Look forward to exploring your website.

  • Donnita Parker

    Mornin’ Ted. Thanks for the insight. I wrestled with the whole ‘who to follow’ decision. Do I follow all to be nice? Follow only those with whom I resonate? I’ve concluded it makes no sense to seek same-ness. There’s no fun in that. Even those who are a complete 180 from my perspective give me the opportunity to explore my own truths.

  • Fitktn

    I get it.

  • Rebecca

    Hi Ted,
    I am new to Twitter and really appreciate your post. I haven’t joined because it seems overwhelming to try and keep up with all my followers on Facebook I couldn’t imagine trying to keep up with the # of tweets so your description of how to filter helps. Thanks for the advice and tips.

  • Harold Compton

    Ted, I find that many of your rules are ones that I am using myself with giving it a lot of thought. I do follow some that do not follow me but they put out some great info which is what I looking for too. I also drop those that simply fill up my account with junk a hundred times a day. Just not enough time to read it all.

  • I love your Twitter policy. Very helpful and insightful. I already use this policy although it’s all just mental notes. Thanks for the follow. I’m sure to learn a lot from you.

  • maria

    Hello Ted you are one of my favorite super star! I will follow you even if you don’t follow me you are a great source of inspiration and a good role model, thank you for sharing your knowledge with your followers

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  • CodeMyMobile

    Hi Ted,

    I really like your mantra for Twitter! Thanks for following us.

  • Lisalisa110

    Thanks Ted! I’m going to follow you now just because of your passion! For kindness, for compassion, for consideration, for manners and all that stuff that makes some humans great! I’ve been getting very irritated lately by people who just totally lack common courtesy. I’m bumping into this situation more and more and it’s frightening. I’m now on a crusade to hold people accountable for their uncaring attitude and behavior. I know I can’t change a soul on this earth but I certainly can call on their conscience if they even have one. It just makes me feel better.

  • DeCoty Phillips

    I’m a relatively uncomplicated individual. I am following you because you sound like a kind, decent, and knowledgeable man. I remember as a youngster saying, “I wish it were possible to be friends with everyone in the world.” Well, today’s social media has brought me closer to granting that wish than anything I could have ever imagined. You strike me as someone I’d like to observe (possibly meet), from whom I can learn, and who might appreciate the shared perspective of another.
    My follow policy is quite simple, I follow those who interest me, and those who follow me. Not totally unlike your own, (smile). The beauty of social media is you can read the posts of others, and decide if he or she is someone you’d like to follow, or know. I look forward to the experience.
    DeCoty Phillips

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  • Paul Simkins

    I love you follow-back policy. Hope I can add value to you.

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  • Dani

    I really don’t agree with this Follow-follow back extended Twitter policy. This isn’t Facebook. The spirit of Twitter isn’t this. That’s why it’s asymetrical. Who believes someone can follow thousands of users? You can be sure that Twitter will adopt sooner or later measures so that this “artificial” follow-follow back mass practice will come to an end soon.

  • John K Arnold

    Thanks. Great advice. I always follow and did not know about the ratio.. Sharing and retweeting

  • Nath

    Hi ! Thank you for this post. Answered quite a few questions for me. I agree with the logic and could very well make it my own principle for following back. And, oh well, I love the humour in it too ! So we’ll probably bump into each other again on twitter :) Have a great day.

  • Barrie Collins

    Whether anyone or agrees or not, you have a code, an ethical underpinning that is very well thought out and guides your decisions regarding Twitter following. I bet you sleep well at night. I follow everyone who follows me as well at present, but this is not the basis for my respect for your position (it is always easy to respect a position one agrees with). No…while it is true you codified some things I’ve thought for a while, what I like most is that you thought it through and based your action on human decency.

    p.s. I certainly appreciate all sides of this coin and do not believe there is an absolute right answer for everyone.

  • Love this.

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  • I like it!

  • I like it!

  • I like it!

  • I like it!

  • Hanan Timraz

    Hi Ted,

    I sincerely thank you for your policy which helped me with some questions in mind about the etiquette of Twitter. I’m a new Twittee -not sure if it’s a common term in Twitter or I made it up- after I was trying to resist being sucked by the social media.

    I’m following you back because I like your philosophy, and I feel good to be followed by such an interesting person.

  • Michael Callender

    I’ m learning Twitter & a rank novice. My immediate question – where & how to select a suitable site for me to blog for the Twitter media? There’ll be more

  • James Bryant

    thanks for following and thanks for the education.

  • Annette Mason

    Hi Ted, just wanted to thank you for your follow-back policy. I learned a lot and have changed my practices. I was operating in twitter “unconscious incompetence” and I appreciate the education.
    Annette Mason

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  • MrsCogan

    Why would this make anybody mad? I have the same policy. I follow everybody back unless I’m pretty sure they are spammers and even there, I give them the benefit of the doubt. (and for some reason unknown to me, you followed me @coganbooks and then I followed you back which led me to your blog, which I enjoyed and then to this page)

  • Wendy Loubser

    Found you via others that I follow and admit this is the first time I’ve seen a ‘twitter policy’ page as such. I’m too follow back and find it odd that its reciprocated and even stranger how few people acknowledge when you’ve hit ‘follow’. You now have me so intrigued and I am looking forward to your tweets. Have a magical day.

  • tom_m

    Really good policy! One more point worth noting… Tools (TweetDeck, etc.) let you filter your stream…and anyone using Twitter to follow more than a few dozen active accounts should be using such a tool. So why not follow more? Another exception would be spammers though. That spam links every other second. You’ll see them sometimes come through every so often, just like a barf of links. That’s lazy management with automated tools. I don’t care to follow those.

  • David Gillespie

    Hmmm – put this to the test a month ago and followed you Ted – still no follow-back (@gillespi)


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