I have seen a lot of people automatically follow people who follow them on Twitter. That’s very cool. How do they do it?
First off, a true confession. I not only do not follow everyone who follows me, but I actually have quite a disparity between the two figures. On my @DaveTaylor account, I have about 1700 followers but only actually follow about 125 people. I’m not sure what that means in terms of Twitter etiquette, but my reasoning is that I follow people whose lives are intertwined with my own. In a word, my friends. Now, there are lots of really cool people and far-flung friends who follow me but whose zeal I don’t mirror by following them. That’s because in my experience the more people you follow, the greater the distraction of Twitter becomes, and I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to keep track of 1700 people. I mean, that’s a lot of people!
However, I also completely understand that you see this differently and are more interested in a reciprocal relationship with colleagues, friends and other followers on Twitter. So let’s see how you can do this…
To find out, I asked my friend @JoelComm how he has his Twitter account set up and he showed me how he uses the third party service TweetLater.com, coupled with a simple email rule, to follow people who follow him. It’s slick, as you’ll see.
The initial step, of course, is to sign up for an account at TweetLater.com. Once that’s done, you’ll be asked to enter your Twitter credentials on this screen:
Got that set up properly? Did you make sure to check “Automatically follow new followers” as I’ve highlighted above? Good.
Now, log in to your Twitter account and click on “Settings” then click on the “Notices” tab. You’ll see this:
As highlighted, you need to ensure you’ve selected “Email when someone starts following me”.
One more step. In your email program you need to set up an autoforward filter rule so that any time you get a notice from Twitter of a new subscriber, it’s forwarded to TweetLater.
Since I use Gmail, I do that by clicking on “Settings” then “Filters” within Gmail itself. I create a filter that looks for the phrase “is now following you on Twitter” in the subject:
Click on “Next Step” and here’s where it gets interesting:
As you can see, you simply autoforward matching messages to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Save that new filter (by the way, mine is a bit more complex because I also tag invitations with the label “Twitter” and have it skip my inbox. You might opt not to do that on your own account).
Put these three steps together, the configuration on TweetLater, Twitter and your email application, and you’re good to go!
Now, let me go turn this off because I don’t actually want to follow everyone who follows me.