Here's how I personally sort this stuff out:
When someone follows my feed I've got Twitter setup to send me an email notification.
I've got my email client (Thunderbird) setup to automatically move those Twitter email notifications to a separate Twitter folder. When I have some time (like this morning) I go through the notifications, determining whether I want to follow back. Here's my follow-back determination procedure:
1. I've got Thunderbird setup to preview email. The first thing I look for is a name (a person) attached to the account. If I don't know your organization and there is no name listed, I'm probably not going to follow back. Some details:
2. If I like what I see in the email preview I'll click the link to your feed and take a look at the last 5 or so posts. If it is junk - spam, any hint of profanity, etc. Done - I'm not following you. The best chance for a follow back is if you have something posted I'm interested in. Maybe it is a short description with a link to an interesting post on the web. If it is something I really like and retweet it, you are definitely getting a follow back.
- I try and only follow back those with similar interests, these interests can be both work and hobby related. If you are a business, organization, academic institution or individual involved in Science, Technology Engineering or Math (STEM) I'm definitely following you back. I'll also follow you back if you are focused on one of my hobbies - for example - saltwater flyfishing.
- Sorry but religion and politics are always a do not follow back red flag for me. I know many use Twitter and other social media for this kind of stuff and I don't have a problem with that. It's just not what I personally use it for.
3. There are some exceptions and I typically follow back the following:
4. Once I start following you - if I do see any spam, profanity, religion, politics I'm un-following you. I also occasionally go in and cull the list of people I follow and this is the kind of stuff I'm looking for.
- Local businesses (not based on religion or politics). This includes my favorite Pizza shop in Western Massachusetts.
- Known organizations, like the National Science Foundation (of course!)
- Some celebrities - how could you not follow back someone like Weird Al Yankovic?
- Old friends and sometimes friends of friends if I can sort the connections out.
So..... back to my experience today - only 27 follow backs out of 302 new followers..... 8.95%. Yes - there is a lot of junk out there but..... mixed in with the junk there is a lot of good stuff.
You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gsnyder