The #1 rule to social media is to be social.  For businesses, it can often be a difficult premise to adhere to this simple rule, and we often see businesses criticized for having thousands (or millions) of followers and only following 5 people back.

It's something we think about from time to time as we manage our @threedeep Twitter account. Someone follows our business on Twitter and we wonder if it's worth our time to follow them back. Some people will advocate that you automatically "follow back" everyone who follows you, but that's not always practical and brings your account in some spammy areas.

How does a Businesses decide who to follow on Twitter?

We've created this flowchart which may offer some insight into how we evaluate whether or not your business should follow someone on Twitter.

The chart starts with a simple question:

Does this account tweet in English?

Unless you are well versed in that language (as well as everyone else that manages your account), it's in your best interest to just let them be.

Does your account know this Twitter account professionally?

This should be a simple question if you're a business. Are you in business with this person or organization? If so, you have just found an additional venue with which to communicate with them and can also help to cross-promote each other.

Does your account know this Twitter account personally?

For example, does your brother blog frequently about photography and his blog feeds into Twitter? Or does your college roommate have a Twitter and posts amusing tweets?

Is that content valuable to your business?

Perhaps you can rationalize your brother's account, but unless you're a comedy business, your roommate will have to be reserved for a personal account.

Is this account local?

For us at Three Deep, we may follow businesses that have no relevance to our business, however this business still may be of value to us, such as Barrio, where we often enjoy their tacos. Another option is that the person behind the account may be someone seeking a position with Three Deep, so following them would be helpful for them to message us if they need to follow up on a posting.

Do they tweet regularly? excessively?

These terms are relative to you and the amount of accounts you follow. We say that more than 5 tweets an hour is excessive, but that is something you must determine for your account. Also, if the account tweets less than once a week, it is doubtful that you will glean any knowledge from them unless you can target the exact time that they will post a message.

Is their content original?

At Three Deep, we follow many social media people. However, if their tweets are all filled with the latest Mashable news, then it would make sense to just follow Mashable. It's certainly fine that accounts want to retweet people, but make sure that there is a healthy balance of original and retweeted content. Again, these are just guidelines that we use to determine who we follow for our organization's Twitter.

We welcome your thoughts and what parameters you use for those you choose to follow.