I’m getting really frustrated with Twitter at the moment and it has nothing to do with the service itself but to the explosion in use. Since the start of the month I’ve received 50 new followers, very few of whom I’ve followed back. Some of it, I’m sure, is because I’ve been on the service a long time and am often on the front page of the followers list due to my ‘membership number’. I’m pretty much on my limit of people I’m following, the limit of how useful the tool is. For me, it is not a broadcast tool, it’s not a popularity tool, it’s a way to connect with friends and ‘friends’ (those online acquaintances who I know virtually, or want to know or find interesting). So here’s some of the reasons I will and won’t follow you. Everyone has different reasons – which is why I don’t feel aggrieved if someone does not follow me, if I don’t fit into their reasons for use, why would they?
- I follow you if I know you personally – and know you have a Twitter account. Recently I’ve not gone out and tried to discover accounts of everyone I know; I’ll come across them eventually
- I follow you if I know you virtually, having had interactions online with you
- I follow you if I’m met you and you mentioned Twitter, or your twittering about an event we’re both at. (for example, I started following a few new people after Over the Air.) I tend to review these after a while to see if we still have shared interests
- I follow you if someone I already follow starts to refer to to you and your tweets look interesting. Again reviewed after a while
- If you start following me, I rarely return the favour if I look at your numbers and seeing you are following 100’s or 1000’s and very few following you. You’re either promoting yourself or just started on the service and think that is the way to do it. If I don’t know you, I won’t follow.
- However, of you start following me, it looks like you are trying to learn how to use the system and you are following connected people, then I’ll see what you have to say
- I have blocked 2 kinds of accounts. Obvious promotion accounts for things I don’t like and people who I feel are creepy (that’s usually men who are following nothing but loads of women – they write in a certain way)
- I won’t follow promotion accounts in general, nor politicians, etc
There’s my list, that’s the sort of thinking I go through when I look at an account. It has to fit with what I can cope with and what I am interested in. If I don’t follow you after you connect with me, it’s not necessarily you, it’s probably me 😉
That all sounds like good Twittering advice.
One thing I’d add to my list: if your Tweets annoy me, I will unfollow you. 2008 is my year to stop being so damned ‘accepting’ of bad behaviour online. Twitter is no exception.
Twitter becomes useless to me if I follow too many people. I, too, regularly go through my list and unfollow certain people – just because we were at the same conference or whatever, doesn’t mean that we share loads in common…
that’s why I review regularly and do pruning. I have to, otherwise, as you say, it loses all value. One other thing I should have said is about the SMS aspect. When I’m out and about in London, I have about 20 people I follow via SMS; I actually changed to a different set for SXSW but back to my London set now.
Great article. I agree. I am fairly new to Twitter (Jan 08), but I use it to connect with people I know, people I have something in common with or people I think I can learn from. I have received a couple of followers that are following 2000+ and have 26 followers. I do not follow those back.
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I’ve been following pretty much the same set of conditions. I’m considering doing some strategic unfollowing, too.
Twitter is clearly a tool with an upper limit of useful people to follow. I have just too many at the moment to comfortably keep on top of the people I’m really interested in.
I follow a similar set of rules myself. One difference is that I don’t follow people that others refer to in their messages. Another thing is that I have no desire to follow the famous Twitterers like Leo Laporte or Wil Wheaton. I use ChaCha to just to chat back and forth with friends. It is no fun for me to follow someone who is so popular that they won’t have time to respond to me.
I think I only follow about 2 ‘famous Twitters’ who I’ve never met. The rest I’ve met, or know, at various conferences and events. But why don’t you follow people that are referred to? I’ve found that a way to find friends on the system.
From what I’ve seen, your use is the normal use, it’s the 20% who use it with mass followers/followees.
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