There are two types of people in this big social media world we live in: the one who follows everyone back on social media and the one who is selective.
Business.com Community member Cynthia Bellgan was unsure which type she should be. Our answer? Being selective is the way to go for most businesses.
Each social media channel has follow limits so it's a bad idea to follow back every single person who follows you, lest your run out of follow backs. Twitter specifically states that every account can follow 5,000 accounts total. Once you've followed 5,000 accounts, there are limits to the number of additional accounts you can follow. This number is different for each account and is based on your ratio of followers to following; this ratio is not published. Facebook has a similar limit, and Instagram only lets you follow 7,500 accounts regardless of your ratio.
Despite the limits, it's not always in your best interest to follow everyone who follows you. You don't want to follow spammy or provocative accounts. Before you click follow, consider these types of groups.
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Your Target Audience
What do you hope to achieve from social media? Maybe it's to build a larger network or learn something new? Many people will say their goal in using social media for business is to generate leads and new business. In the broadest sense, if you can only do business in the United States and you follow someone from the United Kingdom, doing so may not exactly help you achieve your goals.
Once you determine your goals, you'll want to narrow down your target audience. These are the best people to follow back on social media.
Let's review two different scenarios.
Scenario 1: You have a United States-based e-commerce business that sells homemade baby products such as bibs and hats. Your target audience may be:
- Recently married couples living in the United States
- Expecting mothers living in the United States
- Grandparents living in the United States
Scenario 2: You have a catering business. Your kitchen is located in Manhattan, New York and you have the ability to reach prospects within 60 miles of your kitchen. Your target audience may be:
- Medium to large size businesses located in Brooklyn
- Recently engaged couples who are looking to plan a wedding in or near Hell's Kitchen
- Event planners located within 60 miles of your kitchen
When determining who to follow back, look at that users' profiles to see if they are within your target audience.
Influencers Within Your Industry
Any time an influencer within your industry follows you, you are given an open door to start a conversation with them and build a relationship. Follow them back but don't stop there. Engage their posts – ask them questions and get to know them. Seek out opportunities for you to help these influencers out and if you can, they may just do the same for you, perhaps by reposting your content to give you additional exposure.
Influencers can be celebrities, other prominent business owners or even well-respected journalists. You'll want to analyze their following to determine if someone actually is influential. Just because someone has 100,000 followers, if their posts only get 50 likes or comments, they aren't reaching people. Look at a sample of their last 10 posts to measure likes, comments, shares divided by the number of their followers.
People Who Seem Interesting
There's a lot we can learn from people on social media. Take Twitter chats for example – so much knowledge is shared on so many of them. Keep an eye out for people who follow you who seem interesting. Check out their profile bios and what they post about. Do they look like people who you could learn something from or downright seem interesting? If so, follow away.
There is no strict set of rules stating who to follow back on social media, but when using social media for business, time is money and you'll want to keep in mind how a follow back could benefit your business.
Ultimately, you want to maintain a good followers-to-follow ratio. If a person has more followers than they are following, they could be a good person to follow. When you get followed, you likely receive a notification that indicates this information, so it's the perfect place to start.
More Advice from the Business.com Community
- Twitter is the only network that has a real culture of thanking people for following, retweeting and mentioning. And you should be more selective there. On Instagram, follow people back if you like what they are sharing. - Giselle Aguiar
- Don't get obsessed with the numbers and focus on a wider marketing approach that specifically targets your base. - Ali Zartash-Lloyd
- Test different approaches with your social media accounts and measure the data monthly. You can always unfollow someone. - Sol Gonzalez