It’s a great platform to learn from. It’s a cesspool of bots and racists. It’s the best platform for networking. No matter what you say, people will tell you your ideas are moronic.

Welcome to Twitter.

The Best Platform

130,000 tweets ago I joined Twitter. Almost a decade now and yes, 130,000.

Lord knows I’ve tweeted about hundreds (thousands?) of subjects but if I had to narrow it down: nonprofit life, fundraising, marketing, 80s music and pop culture and Airplane. Lately also a few tweets about the Mayans. (Don’t ask.)

The point is: Twitter for me is the best social media platform out there. I have built my vast network of nonprofit people via Twitter. I have made connections which have helped me professionally. I participate in chats where I get to learn from top people in the industry. It’s where I find articles related to the sector and where I learn about breaking news around the world.

In short, it’s never boring on The Twitter.

I know that some people find Twitter to be overwhelming or daunting. It’s not just the constant tweets but a more fundamental question: How do I decide who to follow? Let me share my system with you, in the hopes that it will help you find what you’re looking for.

What Doesn’t Make An Impression

First let me tell you what I do NOT care about: Number of followers. That metric means nothing to me. I know of people with millions of followers whose content is crap and they never ever engage anyone. I know of people with 300 followers but they are worth following for both the valuable content they share and their willingness to have conversations with you.

Also, the blue checkmark is one of my Twitter pet peeves. That checkmark means you’re a verified account. I understand why celebs, high profile individuals, journalists and the like need it: People create fake accounts using their name. So it makes sense for this crowd to have a blue checkmark which indicates it’s the real person. It’s authentic.

But when “ordinary” people have a blue checkmark, I’ll take a pass. Why do it if not to make oneself look more important than they really are? You’re not a Hollywood actress, a famous hockey player or POTUS. It just makes you look arrogant and self-centered. So unless I have a personal connection to these types of people, I stay away from them.

How To Decide Who To Follow

I look for three things when deciding who to follow:

Content: I have a very varied Twitter timeline. I follow nonprofiteers, journalists, sports related accounts, those tweeting humorous content, news outlets, business marketing and comms pros and more. Basically, I want diversity, though with a heavy emphasis on nonprofit life.

When it comes to nonprofit life, I have a VERY wide range of people and companies I follow: fundraising, marketing, storytelling, legacy giving, Board specialists, copywriters, grant experts, major gifts, designers and more. The goal is a variety of content and the ability to learn from the best in the field.

This means that if I’m considering following an account, I read their bio (and I may even have a peek at their personal/company website) and check what they’re tweeting about. Does it line up with content I’d like to see appear in my feed?

How often: While looking at their timeline, I’ll look to see how often they tweet. If they tweet once a week, I’m not following. I want to follow accounts that tweet a decent amount per day. Given how many accounts I follow and how fast my timeline updates, I’m not going to see every single tweet. So accounts that tweet a few times a day, the better the odds I’ll see them in my timeline.

Engagement: This is most important to me.

I follow plenty of accounts that only “broadcast”- never engage but only push out their own content. I do so because that’s how I get my news about world and local events, sports, the nonprofit and business world. Most of those accounts are media outlets and they do a fantastic job using their Twitter feed.

Not including those accounts, I am looking to follow people and companies/brands that engage. They don’t just broadcast and share news about themselves. They share content from other people, they respond to your tweets and are willing to engage in discussion on issues they are experts in.

how to decide who to follow on Twitter

The best way I have found to check that is to look at their last 20-30 tweets: Not just their tweets but also their replies. Gives me an idea if they bother to reply and engage, do they retweet other content, do they share. If I follow someone/a brand, my goal is to engage them. If they don’t engage, I won’t bother following.

How Do You Decide?

That’s my formula for deciding who to follow on Twitter. How do you decide? I’d love to hear your method. Tweet me and lemme know!

Is your nonprofit looking to grow its email list so you can raise more money? Building that list starts with onboarding- encouraging people to sign up for your enewsletter. Download my free ebook and learn best practices about the onboarding process. Start growing your list today!