Why Being Human on Twitter is Smart Business

Why Being Human on Twitter is Smart Business

Why Being Human on Twitter is Smart Business

In my personal experience, social media connections often lead to new partnerships and business — not to mention a large amount of traffic to our website. So working on your social media audience growth can be a huge driver of success. But maybe even more important is art of being human on Twitter.

Twitter is my preferred channel, as you can easily connect with new people by following them. Try connecting with people you do not know personally on Facebook and people will think you are strange and will ignore you (or worse).

LinkedIn is better…but you still need to know the person’s email address or belong to the same group. This even makes it hard for me to connect with people that I do know at times.

Twitter offers no boundaries to connect with new people. Following targeted Twitter accounts is a great way to gain new Twitter followers.

Obviously the more people you follow, the more connections you could expect to make. But you can only follow so many people without looking spammy or desperate — or getting Twitter on your back.

So this means the even more important thing is to be precise about who you follow.

The Follow Back Rate

One of the core metrics of our service is the follow back rate. This is the percentage of people you have followed that have followed you back.

Do you know what your follow back rate is?

My follow back rate for this month

My follow back rate for this month

So what is a good follow back rate?

Considering that 1) people are busy 2) automatic following back has been banned by Twitter and 3) following back requires someone to explicitly take an action — anything beyond 5% is solid.

So why is this follow back rate metric important?

It is important because your follow back rate is a huge impact on how fast you can grow your Twitter audience. You can only follow as many people as the size of your account dictates — thus a decent follow back rate is crucial.

What do Accounts with High Follow Back Rates Have in Common?

There are some interesting trends that we see repeatedly that you may find surprising.

Whenever I look at the numbers, one element keeps jumping out at me. I call it the importance of being human.

The Importance of Being Human

Many business people have both personal accounts and a Twitter account for their business.

The interesting thing is that personal accounts outperform business accounts.

And not just by a little bit, but by a huge margin.

So what are the differences that may be causing this?

What causes this…


To outperform the follow back rate of this?


And by 57% I might add.

I probably should have picked a better example, but do not want to be calling out accounts that are not mine. I bet you noticed that @TribeBoost has more followers. That is due to aggressively working on that one. I often have neglected working on growth of my personal account.


Looking Further Into the Numbers

This phenomenon even happens when the business account is clearly more interesting, more active, more helpful, or all of the above.

It simply does not matter. Being human trumps everything and the numbers prove it.

What psychology tells us is that humans are conditioned to be attracted to other humans. A corporate or business entity is simply not as attractive to us.

Let’s run through some numbers using current customers as example as a demonstration.

My own personal account @kjstrasser has a 57% higher follow back rate than that of @TribeBoost.

This is amazing, as the type of people I follow for my personal account is pretty similar.

The @TribeBoost account also has much more content, posts more regularly, and features more unique content.

My personal account is not used as often and is a less interesting or engaging account most of the time.

Could the avatar make that much of a difference? I doubt it is just the avatar. I surely look dashing in those 3-D glasses and all, but could that account for it?

People are probably tired of constantly being sold to and marketed to. My hunch is that is part of the equation as well.

For a business to get a new follower,  you better be interesting, targeted to that person, and clearly offer value.

Let’s look at another situation just like my personal example.

Here is a client with two accounts. One is her own, the other for her company. Both are focused on marketing and public relations. The naming of the accounts is even very similar.

Her own account has an overall follow back percentage of 23.7%

Her own account has an overall follow back percentage of 23.7%

Her business account is at 15.3%

Her business account is at 15.3%

This is almost exactly the same difference as with my example. A 54% increase for the personal account.

Let’s see how this actually impacted in their Twitter audience growth.

Here is her personal account Twitter growth:

Personal Twitter Growth

And the business account Twitter growth:

Business Twitter Growth

Notice how in the past week her business account followed nearly 200 more people, yet yielded 114 fewer followers back.

Due note that these accounts are very much alike in how they are named, the frequency and nature of the content.

The only major difference is the avatar and one account for the “marketing girl” vs. the “marketing company.”

Look Ma, Even More Examples

Looking quickly at a random list of accounts that have both business and personal accounts shows the following:

20.2% FB rate for a marketing executive vs. 16.6% for his business account

  • = down 21%

18.2% FB rate for a social media CEO vs. 11.3% for social media app the CEO runs

  • = down 61%

21% FB rate for an indie musician vs. 18.9% for a large music company

  • = down 11%

27% FB rate for a fitness guru vs. 15.7% for a fitness business

  • = down 71%

14.8% FB rate for a technology CEO vs. 11.8% for the CEO’s technology company

  • = down 25%

In each example the personal account easily has a much higher follow back percentage.

The only comparison that could be called close is the two music-related accounts.

Keep in mind that the personal music account is for an independent artist. She is extremely talented, but is nowhere near being well known.

This is compared to the other music account, which is a large music company that everyone has heard of. They are a multibillion-dollar company and are a household name. Yet they still have been beaten, but this young indie artist. Amazing!

So What Did We Learn?

I realize this is not very scientific. But the numbers speak very loudly.

Personal, human, and non-corporate accounts will outperform corporate Twitter accounts all day long. Even when the corporate account is of more value, tweets more often, with better quality, or is a more recognized brand name or business.

Clearly it looks like the best advice for your activity on Twitter is to make yourself more human and be less corporate. This also speaks to the importance of personal branding and not just focusing on branding for your business.

Personally I am going to stop treating my personal Twitter account like a redheaded stepchild.

What does this mean for you?

Photo by Peter Sheik and slightly altered by TribeBoost

Kevin is the Founder and CEO of TribeBoost.

Start growing your Twitter Tribe today because growth is great and we have a free two-week trial offering just for you.

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