The 11 Types of Followers on Twitter

by Greg on July 21, 2009

3It’s often said that there are different types of Twittering personalities, and I think you can categorize how folks follow on Twitter, as well.

Here, then, is my list of the 11 types of Twitter followers (and thoughts about ones who matter most):

The Recipro-pal – they follow you after you follow them, no questions asked.

The Friend or Family Follower (FFF) – this is someone who genuinely cares about the question “what are you doing?” because they know you and can put it in context.

The “Me, Too!” – they love what you love, and follow you because you share a passion.

The Aggressor – out of the blue, they follow you. You haven’t a clue why, as there don’t seem to be common interests or connections, but they appear to be a real person. They’re probably using an automated program to garner followers, but maybe, just maybe, they saw your name fly by and liked what you had to say.

The Howdy – just a friendly sort who enjoys the social interaction Twitter offers.

The Bot – they also follow out of the blue, but there’s not a real person on that Twitter account as their tweets (or lack thereof) show.

The Kiss-My-Bot – a large enough subset of bots to deserve their own listing,  this group features highly attractive and scantily clad Twitterers with “private sites” you can check out.

The Short-timer – they follow you. You follow back. They unfollow shortly thereafter.

The Seller – they follow you so you see what they’re selling. They don’t care if you follow back as long as they’ve made their impression.

The Lather, Rinse, Repeater (LRR) – they follow you. You don’t follow back. They unfollow… but days or weeks later… they follow you again.

The Fan – while celebrities clearly have this type of follower, everyone can get them: someone likes what you tweet so they follow you, even though they might never say hello. (The darker side is that a “fan” might have too big an interest in “what are you doing”… but most of us won’t experience this.)

The Searcher – constantly scanning tweets using an automated program, they will follow you if you tweet their keyword.  As one example, try tweeting about tennis and see how many followers you pick up.

Those are the 11 types of Twitter followers I’ve found so far, but in the end, there’s one set of followers that matters most – your own list. Whether you’ve got millions or a small handful, those are your tweeps, and you shouldn’t spend too much time wondering why they’re there. Instead, take care of what you can control, and treat your followers well by tweeting well.

Did I miss a type (or ten)? Feel free to let me know!

Twitter birds by Spoon Graphics

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

JoAnn July 21, 2009 at 12:20 pm

What about someone who follows people supporting the same causes they are interested in? I didn’t see a category like that listed. I’ll follow new people who reply or re-tweet others that I follow.

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JoAnn July 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Oh- maybe that’s a “Me, Too!”

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Greg Pincus July 21, 2009 at 12:46 pm

I’m going with that as a “Me, too!” also, JoAnn

Someone on Twitter suggested The Re-Tweeter, but I view that more as an action after following (and maybe the only thing a specific follower does), but the initial follow-type is one of the above. Still, worth mulling over….

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Sherrie Petersen July 21, 2009 at 1:09 pm

You crack me up, Greg 😉 I know I’ve had some of those icky followers. I’m glad to have you here to help!

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Lee Wind July 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm

How about the “I’ll pump up your numbers if you pump up mine Borg Collective” follower? Like at http://www.topfollowed.com/
where you’re basically signing up to a group, where everyone who belongs agrees to follow everyone else. With no common interests besides wanting MORE followers.
I guess big numbers is good bragging rights, but if they’re not really interested in what you’re tweeting about, does it mean anything?
I’m not sure it does. Probably better to have 1,000 true fans than 100,000 people who couldn’t really care less, right? But what if it’s 100 true fans, and 1,000 people who couldn’t care less…. Hmmm. Harder choice. Those with less than 100 followers on Twitter (like me) can feel kinda left out!
Anyway, it’s good stuff to ponder…
Thanks for blogging about it.
namaste,
Lee

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jon July 21, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Great list, Greg. One of the things I notice during and after a poetry chat is that I get some new followers who are interested in poetry (“Me too!”), but a bunch who are clearly bots or sellers.

Not sure where these fall into your overall categories, but what about social media experts and others who are trying to bulk up their follower count?

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storyexperiment July 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Great list. Having been on twitter for 2 months now…I think a handful of each is in my small group of followers. Of course, I would love more “me-too’s” and “fans” but I will be patient and earn them. I block a handful of Kiss me Bots daily and searchers (mostly becuase our stories include hashtags) but overall @storyexperiment is slowly tweeting along. Thanks for all your help with your tweets. I am definately a fan!

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Greg Pincus July 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Lee – interesting subset. “The Backscratchers” would be my name for them, I think.

Jon – I might have to rename “The Aggressor” to “The Collector” of call “The Collector” a whole new category, be they social media expert or not. This ties in to Lee’s group, in a sense.

I will mull on this for the 2.0 version of the list!

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Sarah Laurenson July 21, 2009 at 3:35 pm

I’ve got some of these groups. I also follow publishers, editors and/or agents of interest if I can find them. Professional contacts.

Then there are the criminal element who follow you to find out when you’re going on vacation so they can steal you blind. (Where did that expression come from anyway?)

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Marianna Paulson July 21, 2009 at 4:37 pm

You must have had a lot of fun with this one!

I have one more – The Houdini. But, unlike the others this one originates within Twitter. For whatever reason, people are dropped, only to reappear hours or days later.

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Kristy July 21, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Maybe one more. There are many many people who get behind a cause that you champion and see it as an opportunity to learn more abt the subject. They are not only Me Too’s as they may have an interest that is only peripheral to yours, but they still want to see your cause succeed, since then their related agenda (hopefully) will too. I could give many examples but I think you get the gist. Kinda like a ‘Me Too’ AND a ‘Fan’ all rolled into a nice package. A package – that Tweets 😉

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Greg Pincus July 21, 2009 at 11:36 pm

Love the Houdini, Marianna. I suspect that some they might be LRR’s… though I bet others are bizarre Twitter tech issues.

Sarah – the criminal element exists, of course, but I think they probably followed under one of the other criteria above. The Aggressor, perhaps. But they are surely No Good!

And Kristy… a package that Tweets, indeed. The Common Goals follower is interesting as a possible category… though you’re right that it’s probably a mix of two. More to mull on for version 2.0!

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peg366 July 22, 2009 at 7:25 am

Great article Greg. I think I have a few of each that follow me but mostly the Friend/Family variety or contacts I’ve made in connection to the writing world. I love Twitter.com, especially things like @kidlitchat.

peg366

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Esther Jantzen July 22, 2009 at 11:20 am

Got any ideas on where I can go for a single, easy-to-understand-and-implement lesson on everything important about Twitter?
Or is that too much to ask? Oh, and I’d love if it were free, too.

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Rita July 23, 2009 at 12:27 am

“Those are your TWEEPS?!?” I love it!! I hadn’t heard that one before.

This list is awesome. Thanks, Greg!!

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Greg Pincus July 23, 2009 at 12:43 am

Esther – there is a remarkable amount of free and good Twitter info all around the web (heck, at the very top of this page you can click on my own Basic Twitter Terms). But as for a single lesson that teaches everything important… probably not. Largely, that’s because Twitter’s simple at it’s root… but how each person uses it is very personal, so what’s important to you might not be to me.

If you want basic “how to use Twitter” tutorials from a technical point of view, Google is your friend. I don’t have a specific one I point people to, as I like bits and piece of many (hence my providing some of my own, too, trying to tame the info beast!), but if any readers hereabouts do have a favorite… feel free to chime in!

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Tonya July 24, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Great article! I do get some weird “kiss my bot” followers… never knew they were so interested in early childhood literacy! And I have had my share of searchers too… I asked a question and got lots of followers and replies based on it. I’ve also had those followers that promise they can double or triple my followers… All of the previously mentioned followers are BLOCKED asap!

@Esther … I found some books at my local library 🙂 for free

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Cynthea July 28, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Hilarious, Greg. I LOVE THIS. Well, I am clearly following you because I am a FAN.

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the fashionits August 2, 2009 at 10:37 am

hey. great post.

no one never talks about the people who force u to follow them… you block them, the they come back 2 min later!

would we call them the “follow or not follw, you’ll follow me anyways”

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arab of sod August 8, 2009 at 5:15 am

follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/sodmgarab

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Lee January 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I picked up a lot of Searchers with my random tweets 🙂 Like you said, talk about tennis and boom, two or three new followers.

My first was some poker-related accounts, then there’s the running shoes, dog care, teeth whitening.. and an energy supplier account when I started tweeting about BP oil spill!

My favorite type of followers is actually people who start following me after interaction on comments 😉 I’ve picked up quality followers by commenting on articles and blog posts.

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ClinicalPosters October 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Wallflower: Likes your tweets (or avatar) so follows but is too shy to reply. (Or is that a Stalker?)

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Brad October 12, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I guess I count as the “blogger” type.

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