You’ve Got A New Follower On Twitter. Game On!

Remember Super Mario Brothers?  Particularly how far out of the way players would go, busting blocks and wasting precious time, to get that stash of unlimited coins?

Squeezing every last coin out of that block!
It's only human. Or Mario.

This was especially after they had already beaten the game. The only desire left for some to play the  game at all was to beat a previous high score. To correct any imperfection that  occurred in previous attempts at levels.

Now there are those out there who will play a game even after beating it just for pure enjoyment. But they’re not the majority. Most people need a reason to still play even though they revealed everything.

On Twitter, there’s a game happening every day for many people. It’s called amassing followers. For some people, if not the majority, their follower counter going up is like squeezing another coin out of a block.

And if you give people the ultimate “win” by friending them back instantly you’re taking away a lot of the desire they would have to keep in contact with you in order to,  for lack of a better term, “curry favor” from you.

Sure it’s Machiavellian, but it’s the truth.


If you’re a company or association, you shouldn’t follow back everyone. It’s a simple extension of the game theory that states: “the more people who are involved in something, the more people will think others will take care of keeping it up.” If you have thousands of “friends,” people will just assume that others will jump to your aid to answer a question. Keeping a smaller group of “devoted” friends (mutual followers) will encourage this group to become brand ambassadors.

And, if the “outsiders” see this select group interacting directly with your brand, it will encourage many people to try to get into this select group.

Once people are in this cohort, just like you’d reward your real world regulars, reward your Twitter regulars with “level ups.”  You can do this in a number of ways, including:

  1. Giving them @ responses to their non-business related posts.
  2. Retweeting especially funny things they say (being careful to not offend the sensibilities of your other followers).
  3. #ff’ing them if they mentioned your business in a given week.

Some users will take offense to preferential treatment. If you see negative reactions about your brand in your mentions, let people  know there’s a game on to become closer to your establishment.

  • Of course, there are some users that you never want to follow back. The best example is spammers. Often they will take being followed back as an invitation to send out friend requests to all of your other followers. And this will alienate all of your true followers.
  • And there are some users that you always want to follow back instantly (if possible). These include celebrities who choose to follow your brand and opinion leaders in your field. Also follow back your competitors without question. Reward these people just for following you. They’re going to be a great source of content and social media wisdom and should be thanked as such in advance.

There is no established best practice to who you should follow back but these guidelines should help any entity, including individuals, get more engaged followers. It’s human nature.


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