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Why Your List of Top People to Follow on Twitter Stinks (And How to Fix It)

This post was inspired by a blog post I read recently: 3.5 Reasons Why I am Sick of List Posts. It got me thinking about all the annoying blog posts people write about the Top People to Follow on Twitter.

Without writing some long diatribe … Here are some general reasons most Twitter “people to follow” posts stink:

  • Most of these lists are poorly researched, or not researched at all
  • It’s clear the writer just listed their friends
  • Or, it’s clear the writer identified “influencers” they want a retweet from and included them for that reason
  • The writer just Googled “top people to follow on twitter” and copied someone else’s list — this is probably why so many of these lists are exactly the same when there are thousands of great people to follow
  • It’s just a long list of Twitter handles and maybe avatars, but includes NO REASON to follow them or why you put them on the list (Do you even know why they’re on the list)

Here are several ways Twitter “people to follow” posts make their writers look lame:

  • Some people on your list have Tweeted less than 10 times, or in some cases not at all! So seriously, how can you really recommend we follow them? Is it supposed to be a joke?
  • Some people on your list have lots of followers but follow just a few people. That tells me the person uses Twitter to broadcast their marketing, but not to participate, engage, or join in any type of conversation
  • Some people listed have no avatar
  • Some people on your list have huge numbers of fake accounts, spam accounts, or porn accounts as followers, which makes me wonder if they’re gaming the system to look cool
  • Some people on your list have twitter feeds that look like an endless list of self promotional links
  • Some people on your list are following huge numbers of fake accounts, spam accounts, or porn accounts as followers, which makes me assume their account is automated
  • Some people on your list have no bio

Here’s how to create a Twitter “people to follow” list post that is awesome:

  • Instead of a general “25 People to Follow on Twitter” post title, choose something more specific and personal. How about something like, “7 Marketers I Follow on Twitter” or “My 10 Favorite Business Bloggers I Follow On Twitter”
  • Tell readers why people made the list. Why should we follow them? Why do you follow them? Why are they so great you put them on this list? In fact, update the headline to, “7 Marketers I Follow on Twitter and Why” or “My 10 Favorite Business Bloggers I Follow On Twitter and Why”
  • Think about including their Twitter avatar in your list for greater visual recognition
  • Think about including one of their recent tweets along with the list mention
  • And remember to show us that you’re actually engaged with the people on your list that you want us to follow

Every once in a while, I do find a list that actually provides value, and I do find some great people to follow — but I have yet to find one that doesn’t have someone in it that makes zero sense.

Now, this post is a generalization, and I admit that at some point, I published a list making some of these mistakes too — but over time I’ve learned my lesson. Have you?

What do you think about these “people to follow” list posts? Have you found value in them? Oh, and if you’ve published a “People to Follow on Twitter” list that fits these good criteria, share it in the comments section below!

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Comments & Feedback:Check out what others have to say about this post!

  1. Sarah Jane Heckscher

    Interesting article. I regularly sweep out the porn bots, and those that have no avatar and/or no bio. Sometimes it’s obvious that the avatar is a stock photo so they go too. I don’t actually have a people to follow list, but the people I recommend on #FF are friends it’s true, and I know the people who will retweet. But my retweeters are friends who get it, and they share. They keep the conversation going, otherwise in the pea-soup that is twitter you would never make any impact at all. I think the most important thing about recommending anyone to follow is that you have had some engagement with the person, and regular engagement. Otherwise all you are recommending are people with lots of tweets and lots of follows/followers, who may never notice you, may not have the same aims as you, and may have no real interest in the things you are interested in and sharing.

    • Sarah – I completely agree! Listing people or mentioning them for self-serving reasons like getting them to retweet you or mention you doesn’t work. It goes against the relationship building approach to successful social media engagement. It’s the people who actually respond, converse, share, contribute, and participate that deserve to be on the list and to be mentioned … and not because you want something in return, but because you simple appreciate them.

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    I’ve never paid attention to any of these lists. I suppose because the publisher didn’t include any compelling reasons to spend my time on it. I would love to see a few lists of really quality tweeters to follow.

    Thanks for sharing!


  3. Jennifer, I love this post, straight forward and touches on all the mistakes and some reasoning behind the lists that get posted. I have seen both good an bad lists and I think that your credibility also goes on the line when you make a list post so they should be worthy.

    I have made a list in one of my posts with explanations of why I was impressed with the people. There are special people I engage with and a list is a great way to recognize their value online. Nice post!

    • Thanks Ross! I believe it’s easy to point out the negative … lots of people do it. But also like to try to offer a solution too. Identifying the problem is one step. Learning to fix it is the next.

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