I have lots of followers on Twitter. I also follow a fair number of people as well. But the ratio of followers to followed isn’t 1:1. I know there are a lot of great people out there and I try to keep up with as many of them as I can without being overwhelmed. It’s a very delicate balance.
There are a few things I do when I get a new follower to decide if I want to follow them back. I also do the same thing for new accounts that I find. It’s my way of evaluating how they will fit into my feed. Here are the three criteria I use to judge adding people to my feed.
This one seems like a no brainer, right? Have interesting content that people want to read and interact with. But there’s one specific piece here that I want to call attention to. I love reading people with original thoughts. Clever tweets, interesting observations, and pertinent discussion are all very important. But one thing that I usually shy away from is the account that is more retweets than actual content.
I don’t mind retweets. I do it a lot, both in quote form and in the “new” format of pasting the original tweet into my timeline. But I use the retweet sparingly. I do it to call attention to original thought. Or to give credit where it’s due. But I’ve been followed by accounts that are 75% (or more) retweets from vendors and other thought leaders. If the majority of your content comes from retweeting others, I’m more likely to follow the people you’re retweeting and not you. Make sure that the voice on your Twitter account is your own.
Be On Topic
My Twitter account is about computer networking. I delve into other technologies, like wireless and storage now and then. I also make silly observations about trending events. But I’m on topic most of the time. That’s the debt that I owe to the people that have chosen to follow me for my content. I don’t pollute my timeline with unnecessary conversation.
When I evaluate followers, I look at their content. Are they talking about SANs? Or are they talking about sports? Is their timeline a great discussion about SDN? Or check ins on Foursquare at the local coffee shop? I like it when people are consistent. And it doesn’t have to be about technology. I follow meteorologists, musicians, and actors. Because they are consistent about what they discuss. If you’re timeline is polluted with junk and all over the place it makes it difficult to follow.
Note that I do talk about things other than tech. I just choose to segregate that talk to other platforms. So if you’re really interested in my take on college football, follow me on Facebook.
There are lots of people talking on Twitter. There are conversations going on every second that are of interest to lots of people. No one has time to listen to all of them. You have to find a reason to be involved. That’s where the interactivity aspect comes into play.
My fifth tweet was interacting with someone (Ethan Banks to be precise):
If you don’t talk to other people and just blindly tweet into the void, you may very well add to the overall body of knowledge while missing the point at the same time. It’s called “social” media. That means talking to other people. I’m more likely to follow an account that talks to me regularly. That tells me I’m wrong or points me at a good article. People feel more comfortable with people they’ve interacted with before.
Don’t be shy. Mention someone. Start a conversation. I’ll bet you’ll pick up a new follower in no time.
These are my guidelines. They aren’t hard-and-fast rules. I don’t apply them to everyone. But it does help me figure out if deeper analysis is needed before following someone. It’s important to make sure that the people you follow help you in some way. They should inform you. They should challenge you. They should make you a better person. That’s what social media really means to me.
Take a look at your followers and find a few to follow today. Find that person that stays on topic and has great comments. Give them a chance. You might find a new friend.