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Building Your Twitter Presence Part 3 – TweetBaiting

Twitterbaiting-1Last week in my 5 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Presence post John suggested that an additional strategy to grow your follower numbers in Twitter is to target bigger Twitter users for conversation.

The logic behind this is that if you can get them to reply to you and even have a multiple part conversation with you then you increase the chances of some of their followers following you also.

This is actually a strategy that works very well – however I didn’t include it in my previous post because it can also be a little risky and lead to two main problems as far as I can see.

Let me explain the risk of TweetBaiting

1. TweetStalking - The first problem with TweetBaiting a bigger Twitter user is the danger of putting them offside. I’ve had a few people target me for this type of thing in a way that I’ve found particularly annoying.

I do enjoy people engaging with me genuinely and attempt to reply to people but when it becomes more of a TweetStalking thing I tend to block people. I’ve even been tempted to call them out for it publicly (something I’ve seen others do). If you engage in spammy/annoying tactics in any medium you need to be prepared for the consequences.

The take home lesson is to engage Twitter users whether they be big or small in a way that adds value to their lives, is genuine and on topics that they’ll be interested in. If you do this you’ll find most are happy to engage in conversation.

2. Unfocused Followers - The other more subtle problem is that you can end up with followers who are less interested in what you’ve got to say. I’m going to talk more about this later in the post but I personally would prefer 500 followers who shared my interests and were focussed upon the things I talk about than 5000 followers who don’t really like what I’m talking about.

For example, lets just say I successfully TweetBaited Heather Armstrong from Dooce. Heather has 9111 followers at the moment so she’d be logical to attempt to engage in conversation however if you look over her Tweets they cover a real range of topics – just like her blog. As a result she’s attracted a followership who are interested in what she’s wearing, how much she pays for bourbon and what songs she hears on the radio. Now I personally enjoy Heather’s tweets and do follow her – however I’m not sure that her readers would necessarily be interested in my tweets on blogging, social media etc.

Sure there will be some overlap – but if you’re looking to effectively use Twitter to grow your profile in a niche then if you’re going to do a little TweetBaiting then you’ll want to target those you ‘bait’ carefully and preferably find those who would have a similarly focused group of followers to you.

Take Home Advice about TweetBaiting

While interacting with larger Twitter users can accelerate the growth of your own Twitter follower numbers it is something to approach with caution. I’ve never strategically done this. While I occasionally interact with a few of the bigger Twitter users I’ve only done it when it’s natural, on topic etc (as I would with any Twitter user). My advice would be just to use Twitter in a natural way. Interact with lots of Twitter users (big and small) and you’ll find that as you do your follower numbers will continue to grow.Have you TweetBaited anyone? Did it work? What would you add to my advice?

PS: there’s another type of TweetBaiting that I’ve seen also. It’s where you ‘bait’ interactions with other Twitter users based upon…. well getting them angry, personal attack, insulting people etc. Of course the risk associated with this is looking like a complete fool and/or getting blocked by those you go after.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. steve says:

    I agree, Tweetbaiting sounds more like stalking. I have found that if I approach a big name with something useful or interesting to say, they usually respond well.

    But I always approach with caution. There’s a necessary balance between stalking and actually creating a conversation that must be found before anyone goes Tweetbaiting.

    I feel like using this tactic JUST to attract more followers is kind of lame unless you have something interesting to say. It sort of ruins what Twitter was meant for in my opinion.

    Any thoughts anyone?

  2. Samir says:

    I agree that tweetstalking is bad but I think half of the beauty of Twitter is that it sincerely lets you join the conversation with some of the bigger names out there. I’ve sent replies to you Darren (hopefully you haven’t blocked me) in response to questions you asked or certain points that you’ve made. I think it’s important to remember every tweet is similar to a comment, don’t @someone unless you have something worthwhile to say.

  3. Darren,

    I was inspired by Scott Sweeny’s article (http://www.manvsblog.com/2008/05/08/dont-take-promotion-personal-with-twitter/) and started following 1700+ people.

    3 Days back I had only 2 followers on twitter (I am new to twitter as well) now I have 50+. All happened within a day.

    I know just following more people is not a great way to build up your network. But in my case it gave me some traction to get started within a short period.

    Now I plan to stick on with my current base of followers and try to build upon them.

    Your thoughts on this is much appreciated.

  4. Tim H says:

    Man, now I’m paranoid that people think I’m TweetStalking. Prime example, earlier today you asked about if people had any suggestions as to what to spend an amazon coupon on, and I responded with an inquiry as to what kind of book you were looking for, to better tailor my answer. Do things like that get perceived as overt baiting or stalking? I would add that if you’re going to tweetbait or just reply in general, its a good idea to reply after a user has tweeted about something they care about, or, after they posted a blog entry, in that case you have something to go off of, and can ask legit questions and make insightful statements.

  5. Tim H says:

    Also, building off from what Aaron from Webspear said in the comment previous to my first one, following random people can help, but a return of 50 on 1700 seems very minimal to me. I have had some slight return on this, except that I have targeted my mass-following towards people who come up under searches of things that I might blog or tweet about (science, comics, star wars etc…). The advantage of this is that I can then follow what they tweet about, and if they’re not lining up with their one line bio, I can unfollow them to clear up my homepage for usefull discussion. Plus, following people lets users create discussion, not just try and jump in the middle of it.

  6. Tony says:

    Man, twitter is all the rage, maybe time to check it out…

  7. I’ve been using tweeter for some months now. But, till date, I haven’t had any tweetbaiting or any such incidents. I hope I don’t get baited or am not the one in anyone’s list ;)

    I’ve had some followers though. Do you think that they are the stalkers?

  8. SIGEPJEDI says:

    Engaging another twitter user is odd. How do you engage one with thousands of followers when they are likely to never see a single tweet of yours in their timeline, and they are even more likely to not follow you back.

    You are spot on regarding a twitters tweeting theme. I often find myself following someone who I thought was in my “similar interest” space, only to Be anoyed with their pointless tweets

    http://twitter.com/sigepjedi

  9. It’s interesting to look at this from an historical perspective. In the days when USENET was (arguably) more relevant, we used to call those trying to negatively bait others “trolls” or “flamers”. So now people believe they can use similar techniques to increase traffic for the purposes of their own profit?

    I believe that personal reputation still means something and that those using these techniques won’t benefit — or at least not for long.

    Like you, I prefer quality over quantity. After all, it’s not just “how many” may be engaging in conversation with you, it’s also “who” is engaging with you.

    And I think it’s important to show some basic courtesy and respect for those you choose to follow. I’m quite cautious about directly approaching those I follow on Twitter. Which is why, Darren, I follow you on Twitter but have not tried to engage you. (Well, other than being completely taken in by your April 1st Pay-Per-Tweet posting. Sorry! :)

    While I learn a lot from your blog and your Twitters (Thank you!), I would never presume that my Twitters or blog are of any interest to you. Perhaps keeping a realistic sense of humility about what we have to offer to others is a good starting point.

  10. Tim H, yes 50 out of 1700 is very low. But the 50 is a good base to start building upon. Now when I ask questions/help on twitter at least couple of folks respond back.

    I plan to revisit all those 1700 people who I am following and remove folks who I may not be interested in the long run.

    I should have added people in small chunks, may be 50 a week.

    http://twitter.com/webspear

  11. Robert says:

    Is this what’s happening those times I’m messaged that so-n-so is now following me? In checking them out I see they are following several thousand people.

  12. david cheong says:

    Darren, is it my browser problem or is it on purpose? I saw the last part of this post all like the font is bigger and red in color. But it is also very clear post.

  13. Mert Erkal says:

    This is completely useless approach. I can not see any difference between having silly (bounced!) traffic from StumbleUpon and being followed by someone who has thousands of followers in Twitter. I prefer 50 loyal followers to 1000 followers.

  14. Tim H says:

    @Aaron. (it seemed apt) Gotcha, yeah, I understand what you mean. When you went on your mass-following scheme did you tailor it to people in particular? Or just in mass?

  15. Tim H, I was looking for potential readers, not just any random person, so I was trying to follow followers of good blogs on my topic.

    I too have my doubts on this method. I am in the stage of experimenting with this method. I have also decided to Not add randomly for some time in the future. Because I realize that my “follower/following” ratio is pretty bad.

    The beauty of twitter is that you can experiment without annoying other folks. What the other person gets is a simple email saying that he/she is being followed. That’s all. So this approach is not intrusive (like tweet baiting). But whether it works is a big question.

  16. I don’t mind getting more followers than now. :)

    http://twitter.com/Daniel_Richard

  17. Anyone interested in talking about technology please add me to twitter.

    http://www.twitter.com/jsmestad

    Justin Smestad
    http://www.resourcefulidiot.com

  18. Sandy Naidu says:

    Though TweetStalking has not happened to me, I can kind of imagine how some people can use it for spammy purposes – What are these people thinking…Well in the case of email spam, most of the times we can’t do anything about it (other than control it form our side)…But with twitter they can get caught out so easily plus the person they are targetting can make them public…Obviously they are not thinking long term.

  19. Rob Brydon says:

    TweetStalking. If only I were popular enough for a tweet stalker.

  20. Robert says:

    http://www.twitter.com/macewan

    Follow me and I’ll follow you. =)

  21. Katybeth says:

    I’m not sure if use twitter “right” but I enjoy it. I am a dog person who follows people who interest me and offer me information on things I am interested in–usually having very little to do with dogs. I know about dogs and am willing to share what I know–but I twitter to find out what I don’t know in other areas of my life computers, blogs, mom stuff, and links that spark my imagination and creativity.

    I have justed started answering and replying–twitter may be the only place in my life where I listen more than I talk. I really don’t care who follows me–or growing my followers–send me more cool people to follow!

    Thanks you!

  22. Claudia says:

    Now I definately don’t know what to tweet about. I find myself following other people like problogger and joel comm because i learn so much from them.

  23. I guess a good way to decide if your reply is a tweet bait or a tweet stalk is if you would send that same comment to someone you didn’t have a clue who that person was. If yes, than it’s probably because it’s of value to the discussion and would not be considered stalking.

    @aaron, I probably wouldn’t have followed you with that ratio, unless your profile was particularly interesting (and then I mean profile, not picture). Or after a successful tweet bait :)

    http://twitter.com/hjortur

  24. Missy says:

    I use to follow everyone who followed me, but have since retracted and fast. Big mistake, dont do it.

    Because of the noise this creates in your tweet stream, plus not knowing what the heck someone YOU DONT KNOW is taling about, can get annoying fast.

    So now i make it a point to only follow those in my niche and or know (and like) well.

    If youre a vegetarian, into green living, or a fellow entrepreneurial blogger then follow me here:

    http://twitter.com/m38967

    If the above doesn’t interest you, then DO NOT FOLLOW ME. Thx!

    Missy.

  25. Tim H says:

    So, it seems that there are some people who actively search out those in their niche and follow them, or only follow some specifically, and hope for feedback from them while utilizing their blogs to gain followers, and then there are some who friend everyone in their niche they can find. I guess these two groups are more out of necessity than anything else, as those of us who are not exceptionally well known in the niche have to put in the extra effort.

    On that note, anyone who loves comics, comic books, webcomics should follow me here:

    http://twitter.com/Tim_H

    Also be noted, there is a high level of science discussion here, so those with those interests take note.

    I guess this brings up another point, a lot of people here are listing their tweet accounts, which makes sense. But along the lines of tweetbaiting, is this not a similar thing (which I am now guilty of as well). Isn’t this just one step removed from tweetbaiting? Utilizing a high profile blog, and leaving your own link in the comment?

  26. charles says:

    I use twitter naturally and i don’t want use tweetbaiting. Twitter is a good networking media. Connect with several people and maybe gain the best and work with them.

  27. Liz says:

    I think I mistakenly Tweetbaited people when I first joined Twitter because I followed a lot of popular people and tried to engage them. I had no idea that they were considered celebrities on Twitter. All it took was for me to be ignored a couple of times for me to drop that effort.

    Now that I know what it is, it seems kind of desperate unless the person is adding a sincere comment to make on an ongoing conversation. After all, that’s how you meet people.

    But, going after some popular person or maligning their reputation to gain followers, while pathetic, is actually successful if all you’re after is more followers. Most popular people will feel compelled to defend themselves and that seems to justify that the other person is worth responding to. I’ve seen it happen a couple of times. It’s hard to resist bait when someone is calling you out unfairly.