Who To Follow On Twitter: Check The Follower Ratio

Whether you have just created a Twitter account or you have been around for a while, you want to follow and be followed. But who to follow on Twitter?

Some simple rules of thumb can help you to classify tweeps in different categories and to predict how valuable it is to follow them.

The ratio Followers / Following determines what kind of user you are. If the ratio os below 1 you mainly read others and not many people reads you. If your ratio is above 1, people find you interesting and want to be updated with your tweets.

But watch out, others can also analyze you in the same way.

What does your ratio say about you? How do people perceive your Twitter account according to the number of people you follow?


Few Followers – Few Following, The Newbie

Everybody has been here (except for Charlie Sheen). We all had to create an account that started with zero followers. It is up to you how to make it grow from the starting point.

It is not a problem to be a newbie in any field, as long as you don’t stay forever being one.

If you are a Newbie

Initially you won’t have much credibility, since your ratio is not impressive at all.

You should think long term, forget finding hundreds of cool people to follow and thousands of followers. It will take time to grow and curate a list of tweeps.

You should start by tweeting quality and useful stuff. People will notice you and follow you.

Next, continue by following people you know in person and that you want to hear from. You can follow people involved in the scientific topics you fancy. These might be individuals or companies. Some of them will reciprocate and your follower list will grow.

Should you follow a Newbie?

If the twitter account is old or he hasn’t tweeted recently, I would say no. Unless he is a dear friend or colleague whose feelings you don’t want to hurt.

If you know who he is or you know that he posts highly interesting tweets for you, I would say yes. Everybody deserves a chance.

If the Twitter account is @NextScientist definitely yes!!

Who to Follow on Twitter Mosaic

Image via Brajeshwar

Few Followers – Following Many, The Uninteresting

Reading what your fellow tweeps write is only manageable up to 200 – 500 active users. Following more than 500 people makes the timeline too crowded, even when using lists.

Some people do this to get a follow back. Others just want top of the list of followers of some celebrities. In any case, it is a warning sign concerning the reputation of the account.

If you are an Uninteresting

You should consider unfollowing some people. It can give the impression that you are desperately trying to follow in the hope for a follow back.

But for a Newbie you recommended to follow a lot of people?

True, but if you have interacted enough (replied or retweeted) with a person and after some time he does not follow you back, it is time to unfollow. There are several automatic tools to unfollow people that do not follow you, but my favorite is manageflitter.com

Should you follow an Uninteresting?

The same rules in the case of a Newbie apply here, follow if you know the person and if he has tweeted recently.

Thinking a bit selfishly, you have a lot of chance that he follows back, which increases your list of followers.

Do this with care, since you want not only to follow quality people, but to have quality followers. You should not randomly follow people based on their follower ratio.

Many Followers – Few Following, The Celebrity

These are easy to recognize, they follow and reply to maximum 100 people, but they have many many thousands or even millions of followers.

Notice that Twitter celebrities don’t have influence, field experts do. This is, those that create trending topics are the ones that had significant contributions in their fields so as to be considered experts.

If you are a Celebrity

Good for you, everything is going well in your Twitter life. Not much to say about it, but remember to keep tweeting good stuff and not only “another paper accepted in Nature”.

Have you considered sharing with your large audience the posts of NextScientist.com?

Should you follow a Celebrity?

As long as you have an interest in what the Celebrity has to say, go ahead. The same applies if the celebrity deserved to be a celebrity and he is well respected in his area of expertise.

Keep in mind that Celebrities rarely reply to your tweets, even if you tweet directly at them (with @Celebrity at the beginning of the tweet). Understand that a Celebrity gets too many messages.


Who To Follow On Twitter Autofollow

Image via HubSpot

Many Followers – Following Many, The Auto-follow

There is people in Twitter that Many people use automatic tools to auto follow back people, find and follow relevant tweeps, remove those that don’t follow back. They run many things in autopilot.

It is almost impossible for people with more than 10k followers to keep track and interact with their followers.

Why do they do this?

Some might do it for ego satisfaction, others to have a long list of people to who try to sell something. In any case, everybody deserves a fair chance to prove themselves, but be skeptic about the quality of such accounts.

If you are an Auto-Follow

You should stop immediately, this is not the way to go. I know by experience, been there, done that, and it takes you nowhere. I created an account with 15K followers using auto-follow and it led me nowhere. Why? I was not interacting with them, I was spamming.

You cannot read all your followers. Furthermore, many of them won’t be quality followers. Let’s be realistic, unless you are a scientific rockstar, it is unlikely that 5000 people are interested in your tweets about your scientific niche.

Should you follow an Auto-Follow?

If you want to interact with them I would say not. The chances are that they will not reply and that they will tweet so often, that they will stuff your timeline. be forewarned.

There is a subtype of auto-follower that is highly spammy. It is the one that uses pictures of beautiful women in their profile and a credible female name, to tweet about affiliate products or links to not-so-pure websites. Advice: block immediately.


These are general rules for who to Follow on Twitter and there will be nice tweeps among the four categories described. At the end of the day what counts is common sense, so you better always use yours above any other rules.

Do not worry if you don’t have enough followers, it is not a competition. In any case, try to focus on being useful, showing genuine interest, and being resilient. You will see that in the long run it will pay off.


How to you decide who to follow on Twitter? Do you use other tricks to detect quickly the quality of possible follows?

Please share them in the comments or in the Next Scientist LinkedIn Group.


If you find this difficult, you don’t want to spend the time or you want to know more, hire me and I will do it for you. I can also assist you with science blogging and your online presence, check my consulting services for scientists.

About Julio Peironcely

Julio Peironcely, PhD is the founder of Next Scientist and a PhD by Leiden University. He helps PhD students to stay motivated, be more productive and finish their PhDs. Follow him on Twitter (@peyron) or read more from him on JulioPeironcely.com.


  1. Regis Dudley says:

    Hi Julio. I got here from Adam’s (2foot giraffe) blog. I like your assessment but I’d consider the “Auto-follow” category to also include folks who are interesting and engaged (thus have many followers) but may follow many people who do not follow them. Therefore, the folks under the “following” column and the “followers” column would be different.

    This would be someone like a prof who has lots of students following them, but is interested in following folks in a different category for recreational reasons (such as a biology prof who’s also a swimmer).

    • NextScientist says:

      I have followed many tweeps that had as nearly as many followers as people they followed (I am talking about thousands and hundreds of thousands). Most of them were not interesting at all. I don’t know exactly why they are not interesting. It might be that they sahred a lot of commercial tweets, or a lot of tweets with low quality links.
      I think one of the exceptions is Guy Kawasaki.

  2. I don't think you quite get it says:

    “The uninteresting” I would disagree with. I follow about 300 famous people/celebrities/companies I’m interested in and then about 150 people I know or I found funny. I have 260 followers. What does that come under? Just casual user?

    Also if someone has 200 following and 201 followers, no doubt it’s someone desperate for attention and self esteem who follows people to get followed back and then unfollows them. Which you are advising people to do in this article…

    Twitter is about networking, about hearing what everyone has to say. Yes, some people tweet about their breakfast (I do if my breakfast was particularly good) but Twitter shouldn’t just be a competition for followers. It makes it a materialistic activity when it’s just a bit of fun.

  3. Guys, also check out this list of people to follow on Twitter, especially the guy called Umair Haque. My two cents :)



  1. […] Keep a close eye on your Following and Followers section, which is located on your Home Page in the left-hand corner under your picture. Click on Following and you will see all of the people that you have chosen to follow. Click on Followers and you will see all of the people that have chosen to follow you. I recommend you check these sections every day. If a person doesn’t follow you in a couple weeks, then you may want to unfollow them. Here is a great article about Who To Follow On Twitter: Check The Follower Ratio […]

  2. […] There are a lot of very intelligent people on Twitter, and they often post snippets of useful advice or answer questions that may be pertinent to your business or the way you run things. Following these people helps you stay abreast of industry developments, keep up with trends in management and reputation, and more. You never know what sort of valuable advice you might find from following the right people on Twitter. […]

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