Followers on Twitter 

12 May 2008  
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I’d be interested to know how others choose who they follow on Twitter.  And general thoughts on following/unfollowing policy!

There seems to be two appoaches:

  • Active, ie. those who peruse others’ followers lists and randomly add new names.
  • Passive, ie. the ones who rely on the notification system to alert them to new followers.  If they like the look of, they’ll follow them too.

I fall into the latter category, although I have aspirations to join the Actives.  I’d love to have the time to select someone whose thoughts I admire and follow, and click through their list of ‘following’.  I’m sure it’s a great way of expanding your horizons and getting to hear new voices.

My (Evolving) Process For Following:

  • I tend to add anyone I’ve met in the flesh.  If we’ve had an interesting conversation in person, then I’m very happy to subscribe to your daily Twitterings.  I see that as one of the real values of Twitter allowing a continuous ongoing conversation.
  • I do check all notifications.  If someone follows me, and I recognise most of the other people in their followers list, then I’ll follow too.
  • If I land on a twitter page, and I don’t know the person/followers, then I’ll click the link to their blog or website.  If it interests me, I’ll follow.

[I’m really not that fussy you know!  Like most users of the internet in general, all I’m looking for is some relevant content.]

My Process for Not Following:

  • Brand newbies who I don’t know, who have nothing to say, and who have not posted a link to a blog or website
  • People who tweet in a different language to me.  I have to understand you!  Note that this includes overly technical language.  The exception to this is @briangreene because I admire his passion even if I don’t understand his broadcast frequency language!
  • Americans who tweet mainly about the election, particularly those who display ‘vote hilary’ badges on their sites. It’s not that I’m against having a woman leading the US, I’m just not that politicised
  • Spammers because they are the scum of the universe

Other Thoughts:

  • While I don’t pursue an active Following policy, I do tend towards an active Unfollowing policy.  If someone isn’t doing it for me, I unsubscribe.
  • For a while there, I was following  quite a few Americans, ones who would have a large following on Twitter and their blogs, but I found the level of detail about how many coffees they were having a day a bit on the boring side.  [I think Irish Twitterers rock – there’s a great mix of interest and wit]
  • I like thanking someone for the add, it’s polite.  @damienmulley is very good at this, despite the huge numbers of people he must deal with.
  • In general, I don’t get an ego boost from displaying long lists of friends on social networking sites.  One of my favourite is Goodreads.com and I’ve only got about 3 friends on there.  Half of my friends are on Facebook.  The other half are not.  Facebook has started recommending friends to me.  [Should I worry?]  It’s just based on common friends. Most of the people whose mugs appear are those I chat to most days on Twitter.  I don’t feel the need to add them to FB as well.

So that’s my policy for following/unfollowing on Twitter.  I’d love to hear yours.

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  1. I started active but went to passive once I felt I was getting enough of the conversations going on. I really only got into Twitter when I was moving back to Ireland and so looked for people that I found interesting and then worked from there. Now I tend to add when I’m seeing someone’s name popup in tweets and wonder what they said. Generally have a quick look at where they are and their blog then add them. I do like Damien’s approach of thanking people for adding me, though I often forget to do it myself.

  2. I’m just getting into twitter but my policy would be similar to yours. When I set up the account first I added people I’d met in the flesh or new from their blogs. But since then, I’ve checked out anyone who has added me and like yourself, if they have some of the same friends then I’ll follow them too.

  3. Me too – I suppose that’s what they’d call in Australia – sticky beak. If I find someone’s name popping, I nose on over to see who they are and what they have to say.

    Maz, isn’t that so cool that you’ve used it as a tool to help you settle in when moving home? I like it!

  4. *blushes* – following this post I only just found out how to unsubscribe from someone. Sheesh I’m such a newbie.

    Great post Maryrose – to be honest I went through a phase of adding people just because I wanted to see what the other side of the conversation was – for example if you were talking to someone about something of interest and I only saw your side of the tweets I’d follow the other person too. I haven’t unsubscribed from anyone yet, but I think I’ll have to begin! There are many interesting people there.

  5. Well on a positive note, rather than unfollowing people this week, I did a spot of tweetie-friend shopping. Randomly clicked on the following lists of people whose voices I respect and admire. Have a whole new bunch of people in my zone now.

    The amusing thing is – you know when you’re following someone and you feel like you know them? If they’re not following you, and you’re commenting to them, don’t ya feel kind of stupid? Commenting into nowhere?

    Ah well, I’d rather have that happen to me online, than in real life.

  6. thanks Maryrose for explaining twitteretiquette. As always direct and down to the point. I am way behind the pack on twitter do’s and don’ts and I find it a bit strange following a colleague you may have come across at an event, only to read all their personal twitterings from friends

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