Follow your heart
When should you follow someone on Twitter?
When most of us start tweeting, we follow anyone and everyone.
Anyone that crops up in our friends’ timeline and definitely anyone who follows us.
After a while, though, it pays to start becoming a bit more discerning.
There’s only so many people you can realistically follow. At least if you want to actually read what they Tweet.
Some of my best virtual friends don’t follow me because I tweet too much for their taste.
Organising the people you follow into lists means that you can keep up with more Tweeters, but most of us feel the need to set some sort of limit so as not to feel overwhelmed by our portion of the 750 million tweets sent every day.
Follow your head
I still continue to follow anyone in my spheres of interest who seems to have something novel or interesting to say, but I do apply a few criteria now.
I tend to avoid following Tweeters who:
Have an implausible number of followers for a non-celebrity.
If I can be bothered, I check such tweeters out at StatusPeople.
Just type in the twitter name and you can instantly see whether someone has been buying twitter followers like one campaign manager of a Police and Crime Commissioner did last year.
Here’s the result of my self-assessment:
Tweet like crazy but don’t have many followers
If someone has tweeted 52,000 times and has 950 followers, it’s a fair guess that they are just a broadcaster – pumping out promotional material about their company several times per day.
I never follow these people.
If someone follows you and has never tweeted, they normally fall into two categories.
They are an automated account (a bot, frequently a porn bot). You definitely don’t want to follow these.
Someone who is interested in you and the topics you’re interested in but wants to watch and learn, rather than participate.
Indeed, it is estimated that as many as 40% people on Twitter don’t tweet themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with using Twitter this way, but equally there’s not much point in following someone who doesn’t tweet.
This doesn’t mean I disregard new Tweeters. If someone has tweeted a couple of times and has a handful of followers, they may well turn out to be interesting.
We were all new tweeters once.
My current practice is to add these people to a list if they are interested in the same things as me and then follow them if I see them tweeting things I find interesting.
Has stopped tweeting
Every couple of months, I prune my Twitter followers.
I use SocialBro (another free utility) and filter people I’m following to highlight those who haven’t tweeted for the last month and then unfollow them.
People get bored by Twitter, come and go, change accounts or jobs. That’s natural.
I quite enjoy the pruning process, as well as feeling vaguely therapeutic in that I’ve finally tidied my desk and done my filing kind of a way, I always figure that unfollowing 25 people makes room for some new Tweeters for me to catch up with.
Follow your dreams
Of course, these are just my suggestions.
Who you follow is up to you.
One of the main reasons that I like Twitter is that following is deliberately asymetrical – there’s no social pressure to follow back anyone who follows you (unlike being Friends on Facebook).
Not only does this make Twitter more fun, but it protects us all from a lot of Spam.
If you are getting bored or irritated by someone, just unfollow them.
Don’t worry, it happens to me all the time.
If you’d like to develop your tweeting skills, check out my online Twitter coaching service which includes an individualised profile of your Twitter style.