Who are you and why should I follow you back on Twitter?

faceless woman

Public domain image: Pixabay

Who are you?

Choosing who to follow 

My positive engagement with Twitter has a direct correlation with those I am following. I have always said Twitter is only as good as the people you choose to follow. Muireann O’Keeffe reminded to also add – and the information they choose to share. Twitter as a space has opened up new pathways for informal learning as users share nuggets of information embellished with links, images and videos. My choice of who to follow is a personal choice and is based on my professional interests. My interests may align with yours, however may at best only partially do so. Only you can decide who is interesting to follow.

Given the focus of my blog I am clearly interested in social media for learning. As an educator I am also concerned about how social media is being used, the impact of our digital footprints and digital identity.  I teach Digital Marketing so have an interest in how social media is being used by brands and organisations. My research of social media takes me in many different directions. The use of technology to enhance learning is also of interest, as is the social impact of cloud computing and the internet of things. The combination of all these interests means that I have a wide variety of connections – aka those I follow.

When making the judgement to follow someone new, I will consider the bio, the profile image, and then skim through recent tweets to see what is being shared.  To some extent I then have to follow my instincts. I’ll be honest and tell you that there are occasions I’ve found that an individual I’ve followed has not lived up to expectations – that is to say their tweets don’t relate to my interests. At this point I can choose to unfollow.

Sometimes I miss new followers that I do have shared interests with. I find this out when an interaction takes place – it could be something they have tweeted or I have. At this point I will make the connection. My advice here is that if you want to connect with someone, step one is following but step two should be to follow up with a tweet to introduce yourself and say what your shared interests are. This is where the social comes to the fore and the realisation of dialogue over monologue.



Unfortunately not all those who follow you are genuine. There are sadly an alarming proportion of fake accounts on Twitter. Fake user accounts can be a source of spam and malicious links. If you are concerned you can block a user that has followed you and they will no longer be able to see your tweets. You can find out how to block an account here.

Another issue is where an individual, organisation or brand is impersonated. Impersonation is a violation of the Twitter’s rules. In the event you identify a fake account, or an account impersonating you or your organisation, then do report this to Twitter here:


Avoiding fake accounts

There are some key areas to focus on:

  • The profile bio: Is it informative and does it describe the personality or profession of the person or organisation?
  • The profile photo or avatar: Does the image relate to the bio. It is wise to steer clear of the bikini clad girls like the plague.
  • The conversations: Do the shared updates match the tone and context of a genuine account? If in doubt never click on a link.
  • The followers and who the account is following: A fake account is likely to have a disproportionate follower and following count.


Verified accounts

Twitter provides a verification process for high profile accounts and explains this as follows:

What is a verified account?
Any account with a blue verified badge on their Twitter profile is a verified account.

Why does Twitter verify accounts?
Verification is currently used to establish authenticity of identities of key individuals and brands on Twitter.

What kinds of accounts get verified?
Twitter verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they’re looking for. We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas.

Twitter does not accept requests for verification from the general public.


Mistaken identity

There are many cases where genuine user names have been mistakenly used in tweets relating to brands and celebrities. Think carefully about the user name you choose!




Developing your own profile

It is important to consider how others perceive your profile. It is therefore in your interests to add relevant information to help potential followers make the decision to follow. Two key areas are your profile image and profile bio.

Twitter egg icon

When you create a Twitter account the default avatar is the egg icon. Replacing this with your own photo is important if you want to build trust and credibility. Ideally this photo should either be a head shot for a personal account or your company/organisation logo for a business profile.


Twitter bioYour bio needs to reflect who you are and an indication of your interests.  What will your tweets offer to those who follow you? You have 160 characters to encourage others to follow you. It is important to make you bio authentic. Adding a link to your website or LinkedIn profile can provide the source of more detailed information about you and is the easiest way to confirm the authenticity of your Twitter account. Including Twitter’s follow button on your webpage or blog is also useful.

You can customise your profile by selecting unique profile and header images, adding a name, bio, location, birthday, website and theme color, and by pinning a Tweet that other users will see when they visit your profile.


How to customise your profile

  1. Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android)
  2. Go to your profile.
  3. Click or tap the Edit profile button and you’ll be able to edit your:
  • Header photo (recommended dimensions are 1500×500 pixels)
  • Profile photo (recommended dimensions are 400×400 pixels)
  • Name
  • Bio (maximum 160 characters)
  • Location
  • Website
  • Theme color (only editable on twitter.com)
  • Birthday

4.  Click or tap into any of these areas and make your changes.
5.  When changing a profile or header photo, click or tap the camera icon and select Upload photo or Remove.
6.  You can choose to Show my Vine profile on your Twitter profile (available available if you’ve connected your Twitter account to your Vine account).
7.  Click or tap Save changes. You’re all set!


How to mute, block or report followers


About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
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