"What makes you (or anyone of influence on Twitter...aka thousands/millions of followers) follow someone or re-tweet something from someone less influence? For example, do you look to further your own "brand-you" from a re-tweet, thereby decreasing the likelihood of re-tweeting something from someone less influential?"First of all, I'm quite flattered that Brian considers me a "person of influence" on Twitter. After all, I have less than 8,000 followers (though of course those 8,000 followers represent an incredibly brilliant, accomplished, and sexy group of people!). But I suppose to someone with 100 followers, that does seem influential.
Here's my thought process--I will reply or retweet for one of three reasons:
1) I'm responding to a friend. The reply or retweet is a way for me to show my appreciation and friendship.
2) I really liked the content. The reply or retweet is my way of "paying it forward" by spreading something that's worth spreading.
3) Someone really pissed me off, and I posted a riposte before I thought better of it.
I'm not really fond of the third reason, and try not to indulge in it, but it does happen.
I suspect the same is true for other people, including actual influencers. I have friends like Hiten Shah who retweet my posts when the content matches the interests of their followers. And there are other folks like Joel Gascoigne, where we've never had the chance to meet, but our mutual appreciation of each other's content results in our commenting and retweeting back and forth.
The conclusion then is simple: Your influence comes from your content. Produce great content, and you'll develop relationships with folks who will want to spread that content.