The answer is: It depends! When you first join Twitter and get started, you will mostly likely be following more people tand have fewer followers. When you're just getting rolling, don't worry too much about your followers.
Find people to follow who truly interest you. Keep in mind that when you follow someone who follows very few people but has many followers, it is not likely that you'll get followed back. That's fine. Choose important people to follow, but also choose those with a better balance of following-followers and it's likely that some will reciprocate and follow you.
How will people decide to follow you? It's mainly about the first impression: your Twitter profile. First, you should have a personal photo of yourself. If you are representing a company, you can use the logo, but if you are the business owner, you may want to use your own photo. Pictures of people tend to do better than logos for generating interaction. If you do use your logo, then give your name in the bio. People like to engage with people, not companies or symbols. Never use the default blank Twitter image because you won't be taken seriously.
A prospective follower will read your profile. Your profile should be filled out with as much detail as possible and be interesting and unique. Then, of course, there is the balance question. People are more likely to follow someone who has a strong (or at least equal) followers to following ratio.
Finally, when someone is deciding whether to follow you, they will look at your history of tweets. If you have been tweeting helpful links and not promoting yourself (at least not more than about 10-15% of the time) that will be a good indication that you have something to offer. By sharing links from some of the people you would like to have as followers and by talking to them using the @ sign you may find that they are more likely to follow you.
Ultimately, you want your balance to favor followers, though as we said, don't worry about that at the beginning. When you get to about 100 to 200 followers, start slowly unfollowing anyone who has not followed you that you are not truly determined to have on your follower list or that you're not interested in reading each and every day.
Twitter success is based on being authentic, helpful and generous. Follow those principles and you'll find that people connect with you on Twitter and your follower to following ratio will come into balance. And remember, it really doesn't matter whether you have 500 followers or 5,000 followers. The most important factor is how many people are actually reading, clicking on your links, sharing your tweets and talking with you on Twitter. That's Twitter success.
What are your thoughts on how to build your following initially? What's the right ratio of following to followers? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
image source: flickr (DanieleCivello)