Editor: I just added in comments a link to a great counter to my post here. It's very helpful and shows the tension that exists using social media. I recommend you check out Shaun King's post. DG
When I first got into Twitter, I did whatever I could to get followers. After all, I want to influence people for good. The more the better was my thinking. In hindsight, I probably focused way too much on building a following. If I'm honest, it was more about my ego than I'd like to admit.
Since then I've focused more on being someone people want to follow. Here are some things I try to do/not do so that I'm seen as worthy of your follow...
* Tweet interesting and helpful content (I acknowledge that my focus tends to be in the area of my work (the Church) and Apple related technology).
* Tweet original content. Re-tweeting is good but something I've come up with is fresh and once in a while pretty decent.
* Re-tweet good tweets that not only benefit other followers but help the source out with a little more exposure. I especially like to help things go viral when they are helpful in impacting our world positively.
* Interact with those who tweet and retweet. It's called social media for a reason.
* Ask for very little from my followers.
At first, I didn't want to follow very many people - even if they followed me. I just wanted to follow who I wanted to follow. But what I've found is that I was missing out. Granted, I don't have 5,000 followers and I'm never inundated with direct messages or replies. But what I'm finding is that even folks I wouldn't have chosen to follow based on their bio or current tweets not only tweet interesting stuff--they often are the ones who retweet my stuff.
Here's the biggie for me: Those who don't follow back are saying that they either can't or don't want to connect with you beyond what you can do for them.
There are legitimate issues here like huge numbers of followers can really take up a lot of time if you take the time to respond to each one. And if you have a huge following, you probably are getting a lot of personal requests which gets bothersome. So I get that in theory, if not in practice.
But for those with fewer than 1,000 followers, it's different. I can relate to you a bit more. (I currently have 1,800+ followers and people I follow) Perhaps you are missing out like I was. I want to encourage you to try following more people who choose to follow you.
Now decide for yourself if you want to follow the "expert" in social media or the corporate twitter for coffeebeansRus. But remember: there is a person (paid or not) behind every twitter account who not only has the potential to retweet you...but who you have the opportunity to influence for good. You can still connect with them!
So I hope that you'll consider following more people. I believe you'll see one other result...more followers. I sure did!