As you may know, Twitter is a micro-blogging social network that allows users to post messages of 140 characters online. Success on the network is partly defined by users acquisition of followers, who are commonly known as ‘Twitter followers’.
Although anyone with an internet connection can view a user’s Twitter posts (unless the user has ‘protected’ their Twitter posts, so that they can only be seen on the network by people he or she authorises to do so), most regular Twitter users subscribe to other’s Twitter Feeds by ‘following’ those which interest them. Individual’s Twitter posts are known as ‘tweets‘.
You can ‘follow’ people on Twitter by pressing the prominent ”Follow” button that appears immediately under a Twitter User’s profile or the by clicking on the Twitter Bird and + symbol icon that appears next to Twitter Users’ names on mobile devices.
Once you’ve ‘followed’ another Twitter user, all their posts (and their retweets of other people’s Twitter posts) will appear in chronological order in your Home Feed page on Twitter, along with those of other Twitter users you have decided to follow.
If you follow another Twitter user, they will receive notification that you have done so, either by an e-mail and/ or under the ‘Connect’ tab on Twitter itself (depending on that users settings). Once they have received this notification, they may choose to reciprocate and follow you in return, although they are under no obligation to do so. By following you back, your Twitter posts and retweets will now also appear in their Home Feed.
If the Twitter user you choose to follow does decide to follow you back, you both can now private message each other on the Twitter platform, but be careful that you do so correctly and not public message your new Follower by mistake as this can prove highly embarrassing.
Followers and Friends
In Twitter terminology and within some Apps, those that you choose to follow are known as “Friends” while those who follow you are known as “Followers”. In turn, you will be classified as a Follower on their profile and be in turn listed as a Friend of that person on their profile (if they do indeed follow you back).
On Twitter, you do not have to ‘follow’ someone to publicly address or refer to them in your own Tweets (which is done by using their Twitter handle, i.e. mine is @NLCuk). They will, however, be notified every time you user their Twitter handle and by using it you will be deemed to be addressing them, either directly or indirectly.
Other Twitter users may be individuals tweeting in a personal capacity or a professional capacity, or the Twitter feed could be named and manned anonymously on behalf of an organisation, service or company. It is not uncommon for people to have multiple Twitter accounts to reflect their different online interests or to help demarcate their professional and personal life.
There are many dubious practices and techniques used by some Twitter users to artificially increase their own Twitter followers, in an effort to make their own Twitter Feed seem more popular or influential than it actually is. People are beginning to get wise to these tricks, and any Social Media Marketer of any note or worth will advise you against such tactics, as ultimately they will undermine your online credibility. These techniques, and how to detect them, will form the basis of a future entry on this blog.