So…here I sit in the library trying to get some work done because my Internet connection at home is down. Little did I know, I can’t get access to my hosting accounts’ cPanels from here. DOH! So, instead of working on the projects I intended to work on, I’m writing a blog post about my personal Twitter follow policy.
I’m a born multi-tasker. It isn’t often that I’m not doing 3…4…7…12 things at once. It’s just my nature. I’ve always been that way. That said, I spend all day online tackling a variety of things at once – working on site audits, finishing site designs, doing WordPress installations, writing blog posts…and last, but certainly not least, Tweeting. I am a Twitter addict. There, I admit it – I feel better now. I love it. Twitter is to me what crack is to a junkie. If I’m away from it for too long, I start to get the shakes.
Reciprocal Following and Auto-Follow…I Just Don’t Get It
It seems not a day passes now that I don’t get a crop of new followers. Among them are always some dumbass spammers whose profiles consist of nothing more than a link to some bullshit website and a single update touting their excitement over receiving a free laptop or how they’ve made $100 in ten minutes with the Internet’s latest get rich quick scheme. Does anyone really fall for that crap anymore? I mean, if there were actually a way to “get rich quick”, I’d have jumped all over it already. Therein lies the inspiration for this post.
I follow just under 300 people on Twitter. Most have ties to the search marketing industry, website design, Social Media, etc. Many of them, like Kim Krause Berg, Michael Gray (who actually just started following me TODAY…perhaps partially due to my whining that he still wasn’t following me – but whatever…) and Jill Whalen didn’t follow me back initially. Why would they? They had no idea who I was, what I was about and, frankly, that I wasn’t a complete tool. It wasn’t until after I had interacted with them that I earned a follow back. And that is as it should be.
Alysson…What’s Your Freakin’ Point?
Geez…I’m getting to it. I don’t reciprocal follow. I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe that someone following me on Twitter means that I should also follow them. Let’s take this one step further and address the very concept of the “auto-follow”. It is asinine. Auto-following is absolutely ludicrous, pointless and I can’t imagine a better way to render Twitter absolutely useless. I can’t fathom what my Twitterstream would look like with much more than 300 people in it. I probably miss out on a lot of useful tweets that pertain to search marketing or my other interests as it is. Why would I want to follow someone who sells soap just because they’ve followed me?
Frankly, I don’t understand why some of the people that are following me, follow me. I’m a sometimes vulgar, wildly opinionated, Buddhist smart ass who couldn’t be further from the right wing of politics – no, really…I couldn’t be. I have nothing in common with the intolerant, radically judgmental, holier-than-thou, neo-conservative, evangelical, right wing hate monger movement. Yet, some of my followers include within their bios things like “God-fearing Conservative” and “Rush Limbaugh Supporter”. Um, okay…welcome, but your likelihood of being offended on a daily basis just went up exponentially – enjoy!
Sometimes the things that lead to my getting a new follower are hilarious. For instance, I tweet back and forth with @kim_cre8pc about her knee injury and before you know it, @TheKneePainGuru starts following me. I talk about beef jerky and low & behold, @ObertoAlpha starts following me. Go figure. By the way, I am now following @ObertoAlpha because they carried on a conversation with me via Twitter – and offered me free jerky, which didn’t hurt their cause. See how that works? Engage me in some way, and I’m likely to follow you back – voila!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for each of my Twitter followers, aside from the spammers that have yet to be identified – I’m coming to block you, I promise. I hope I bring something useful, or at the very least amusing, to your Twittersphere. On the other hand, if you want me to follow you back, give me some sort of reason. Carry on a Twitter conversation with me. Ask me a question. Comment on a post I’ve written. Give me some feedback on a question I pose via Twitter. Something. And no, trying to sell me something or telling me how to get a free laptop won’t cut it. Throw in a free Snuggie, some Mighty Mend-it and a Shamwow…maybe we’ll talk. ;)
So, here’s your chance to tell me how wrong I am about my opposition to reciprocal following. Think you can talk me out of it? Think you can convince me…convert me…coerce me? Leave your comments and see if you’re right.
Orpheus Descending says
I’m not going to try to change your stance on this, but when you look at a profile page (before you choose to follow) you pretty much know what you’re getting into. I’ve recently had a bunch of right wing, christians follow me, and I couldn’t figure out why they would want to do that – but that intrigued me. And I thought it might be interesting to hear tweets from the other side of the tree (that really is a cheezy phrase – but I’m going to leave it in). Their opposition to me and my beliefs actuall gives me something to which I feel I should respond. I tend to listen to a lot of twitters but only respond when I have something to say, and that’s rare so I like that they provoke me. I haven’t received the spam followers yet, but I can’t wait until I do. Finally I am involved in a space where I can talk back! I am sooo tired of yelling at terrible television commercials and radio and print ads where the impact of my roar is non-existent. Here not only can I blacklist them and pity the brand, but I can actually sing to the heavens about how annoying their hawking (haha) really is. I work in advertising so I can’t wait to throw a bit of clorox on the crap that makes us all smell of shit. (can I say that in print?)
I totally see your point. When my Twitterverse was smaller, I felt much the same way you do and would follow people who weren’t like-minded just to have an outlet for debate.
Eventually it got to the point that I was missing out on useful and constructive information from people in my field and I had no choice but to reduce the noise in my Twitterstream as a result.
I think it really depends on what your goals are for using Twitter whether reciprocal following makes sense. It just doesn’t make sense for me and I had a chance to use this post to explain why.
Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)
Watch out when using that library internet. Most of the library wifi is open and unsecure.
I believe in the auto-follow. I want to get my message in front of as many eyes as I can.
It’s all a numbers game on twitter. Filter out the noise with TweetDeck or other twitter tools.
See, that’s where our Twitter philosophies differ. If someone’s tweets don’t belong in your day-to-day Twitterstream, why follow them in the first place?
Twitter isn’t a “game” to me. I actually use it to learn and share information with like-minded people in the same industry or small business owners.
Everyone uses Twitter differently and with different goals. To each his own! :)
David - @_djh says
Personally, I follow back most of the people who have decided to follow me – to a large extent I think it is only polite.
That said, I always take a look at the profile and/or recent tweets of new followers to see if I am interested in them.
I certainly don’t follow the “free laptop or get 10,000 followers in 2 seconds” people or the “I have a great scheme to make you rich really fast” ones. There are also the ones who seem to auto follow based on a particular keyword I might have used – not keen on following these either.
Generally I’d guess I follow back about 80% of new followers. Most do tend to be people I’d have an interest in anyway.
I understand your perspective. I will be interested to see if your philosophy remains the same as your number of Twitter followers continues to increase.
I’m all about being polite, but I won’t sacrifice Twitter’s usefulness for the sake of being polite. Nor will I follow someone in the name of “good manners” just because I use TweetDeck and could be following tens of thousands of people, yet never see a single one of their tweets.
The intent to mislead someone into believing I actually follow them or am interested in their tweets seems more impolite than simply not following them in the first place. Maybe it’s just me. :)
Yes you are right but still I read somewhere recently about the 0.9,9,90 rule (or something like) that said 90 percent of people participate in the web only passively, 9% create content, and 0.9% lead content. Who am I to try to control this. If someone wants to follow my wisdom [?] I will listen to them – when and if they ever do. Except for the totally vapid!
HOWEVER on following the blatant hard sell they do not get a seconds consideration.
Hey, Tim…I see your point. Then again, over 90% of all statistics are made up – likely including that one. ;)
The key for me is to not try to control anything, aside from the barrage of information that I endure throughout the day. Following people for a legitimate and constructive reason is a very effective way for me to do that.
There are small business owners from a number of different industries in my Twitterverse. Getting tweets throughout the day about the latest hair accessory, the sale someone is having on organic soap, or why pet insurance is a good idea just isn’t constructive information for me personally.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! :)
I agree with your post Alysson. I never follow someone back just because they follow me. If you want get someone’s attention and perhaps get them to follow you then just tweet good content and aim it at that person with an @ sign. If they like your content they will follow you.
Equally, I don’t want anyone following me who is not interested in reading my tweets.
The quickest way to destroy Twitter is for everyone to just mindlessly follow anyone who follows them.
One thing Twitter is NOT, is a numbers game.
Keep it real Twitterers!
That’s all I’m saying…if someone wants a follow back, as I have apparently done something to have earned their follow, engage me in some way.
Carry on a few conversations. And, for the record, sending an “@SEOAly hi” tweet is NOT engaging me. ;)
Glad you liked the post. I appreciate you taking the time to check it out and comment! :)
Aly, you know I love ya. But on this topic, we have to agree to disagree. I follow most all people who follow me back. Occasionally, go thru and check my followers using Twitter Karma and weed some out who don’t communicate at all, but I feel that being followed is true honor. It’s like someone saying “Shelly, I like you and want to hear what you have to say” or maybe it’s just “I want to hear what you have to say, you beatch.” But, in either instance, it is, to me, an honor to be followed that I can’t not grace with a reciprocal follow. Now there are some exceptions. I don’t particularly care for hookers, porn stars or wannabes, mean people, MLM nutjobs and spammers. Those people, I don’t follow.
I follow many industry peeps whom I admire tremendously. Some follow me back. And the ones who don’t, I hope they will some day.
But my “friends” on Twitter include teachers, painters, construction company workers, truck drivers, retired veterans, cooks, chefs, moms … lots of people from all walks of life. For me to say that any of them can’t contribute in a meaningful way to both my life AND my Twitter stream is, for me, elitist. I’m an “everyman” kind of gal and believe that everyone has something valuable to contribute – even if they aren’t in my field, are in a different socioeconomic bracket and even if they are of a different political persuasion. And I laugh at that last part because I’m mostly a “bleeding heart liberal” (as categorized by my DH), and I have a TON of right-wing, uber conservative followers. That always makes me laugh. BUT I respect their RIGHT to have a point of view, as I hope they respect mine, and we seem to get along just fine.
Bottom line, my life’s work is in marketing. And in my opinion, in the field of marketing, we are students of life and students of human nature. My job is to understand people, what they like, what they want, where they go to get those things, and to help my clients bring them those things in an efficient, effective manner. My job is identifying needs and filling them. My job is solving problems – sometimes problems that people didn’t even know exist.
And if I operate in an elitist world and only am interested in a select few, whether it’s in the realm of Twitter, at the local bar & grill, or in my day-to-day life, I’m compromising my ability to do what I do best. And, more importantly, compromising my ability to do the best work for the clients who entrust me with the awe-inspiring job of helping them reach their goals.
Sorry for the novella … but it’s what I think. And, again, there’s no right or wrong here – moreover, what’s right for you may be very different than what is right for me.
I totally respect your position, Shelly…but you’re right – we must agree to disagree on this one.
I hate that people mistake my being choosy regarding those I follow to having an elitist attitude, but so be it. The fact is that I do tend to follow those who engage me, whether they’re part of my industry or not…the key there being the engagement.
It’s not about who you are, what you believe or what you do, but whether your choose to interact with me. Interact = follow back. Simply following me is not interaction. If someone follows 10,000 people and I just happen to be one of them, what is the likelihood that they ever see my tweets? Slim to none.
Nate Moller says
Wouldn’t that be funny if all I put in the comment was “Great post” and then a link to my “get rich quick” scheme?
I’m excited that you added me to your list of followees today. I too HATE autoresponder, auto-follow people and drop them like a dirty rag (usually I’ll send them some sarcastic DM back).
So anyway, look forward to your tweets.
Nate Mollers latest words of wisdom – What Darren Rowse Says About Social Media Marketing
Welcome to my Twittersphere, Nate. It’s a pleasure. Now don’t piss me off or I’ll unfollow you. HAHA! ;)
As for the moron auto DMers out there, I usually don’t bother wasting more time than it takes to unfollow them. If someone has been following me for a while and don’t know me well enough to not auto DM me, I clearly made a VERY poor decision electing to follow them in the first place. :)
Alyssons latest words of wisdom – Use Twitter As A Tool – Don’t Be One
I follow everyone who follows me on twitter. But then again I only have a handful followers. I used to follow a lot of people but later unfollowed them because they don’t follow me back.
audreys latest words of wisdom – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Computer Game
With all due respect, Audrey…I think unfollowing someone simply because they don’t follow you is as counterproductive as following everyone who does follow you.
You clearly followed them initially for a reason. Now, if you said their tweets didn’t live up to your expectations or they simply tweet a lot of random crap that doesn’t interest you, okay…unfollow away. But to unfollow someone just because they don’t follow you – that doesn’t make sense to me.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it. :)
Alyssons latest words of wisdom – My Near Death Experience
I tend to follow nearly all who follow me. It can be time-creating (for those who play in the untime) to view the page of every new follower, tho I do view many of them. If someone selling soap is even mildly interested in what I’m tweeting about them I’ll gladly follow them, knowing that obscure and undefined relationships can easily sprout into highly potent partnerships.
I would tend to believe that the potential for “highly potent relationships” will bubble to the surface whether you follow them back or not.
Many of those I follow on Twitter at this point have carried on a conversation or interacted with me in some way after having followed me, and that conversation took place even though I don’t believe in auto or reciprocal following.
As I’ve always said in relation to Twitter, to each his (or her) own. What works for me doesn’t work for everyone…and what works for others doesn’t work for me.
Alyssons latest words of wisdom – My Near Death Experience
Different soap for different folk =)
Heh, I see what our Eye is soakin’ in…
My sight is rather fluid on this matter, so I enjoy being absorbed by your views Here. Thanks Allyson.
Ok so first I have to say that this post put a smile on my face, thanks for that.
I see you are now following 356 and have 1947 followers. Following another 60 or so in the last 4 months…
I have to say that my zeal for adding search industry peers/heros to my follow list is matched only by the daily number of spammers that add me to their follow list. I only get a few a day, so it’s still at a level where I can check their profile and decide if they’re worth a follow.
Anyway, I’m rambling here. And btw, your list of followers just went up by one :)
Hey, Matt. Thanks for taking time to comment and welcome to my Twittersphere! I’m glad the post made you smile.
And yes, the number of people I’m following has gone up over the past several months. That’s what happens when people actually engage me, rather than just being creepy Tweavesdroppers. ;)
Phil Buckley says
I have 2 points, first – I’m with you most of the way, my exception is people who are local for me that seem honest – I’ll follow them just because we’re neighbors.
Second, although I am a conservative crazy, I still love you Aly, love your crazy liberalism, but mostly, love your search insights, and that’s the biggie for me – I’m like you that I want to get something from the people I follow, and you give me something good on a regular basis.
Last but not least, I love watching you and @lisabarone poke each other ;-)
Thanks for bringing up thos oldie-but-goodie post.
I appreciate that you appreciate my nuttiness, Phil. For the record, being conservative doesn’t automatically make you “crazy”! :)
I’ve got a lot of conservative pals – @chris_hart and @steveplunkett, just to name a couple. Wait…perhaps they aren’t the best example of “not crazy”. They’re both clearly crazy, but in the best possible ways! ;)
I’m glad you enjoy my tweets and that you get something useful from them. Anyone who is amused by the ongoing banter between Lisa & I is definitely someone who belongs in my Twittersphere. :)
.-= Alysson´s last blog ..A Personal Update =-.
Personally, I follow everyone who follows me, mainly because I think it’s the polite thing to do. If in person, you were talking to someone and they were listening to what you say, however you didn’t listen to what they have to say and just ignored their opinions, wouldn’t you come off as rude? Sure, at this point every time I refresh my homepage new tweets come up, but at least I’m reading as many as I can.
I think your opinion makes a lot of sense, but I just think if someone is taking time to read my tweets (or even just click follow) they deserve the same from me.
Thanks for your comment, Harley. While I see your point, I must respectfully disagree. It may seem like good manners to follow everyone who follows you, but it’s important to realize that not everyone who follows you on Twitter actually sees or is interested in your tweets…or is even a person at all.
Many accounts aren’t actually Twitter users, but automated accounts created specifically to build inflated follower numbers and/or broadcast marketing messages or SPAM links. Many of these accounts aren’t monitored by human beings at all, thus following them merely floods your twitterstream with nonsense.
By following only those accounts that interact with me in some meaningful way I separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak – thus preventing my stream from being inundated with useless bullshit from Twitter accounts created solely to pollute social media with get rich quick schemes and “As Seen On TV” product pitches.
So, my not following everyone who follows me isn’t at all about being rude, ignoring people or social media snobbery. Rather it is about building rapport with real human beings who are interested in actually communicating, rather than missing out on that opportunity because my Twitterstream is peppered with stupidity being broadcast by automated Twitter accounts and bots.
That said, to each his own in the realm of social media. There is no right or wrong way to use Twitter and we all have to find what’s best for us as we traverse this new landscape known as the social web.