Some Thoughts on Twitter

I was cleaning house on Twitter today, and as I made some decisions, some thoughts occurred to me.

Reasons I might not follow back:

  • You follow so many people that you can’t possibly be keeping track of all your conversations unless all you do is read Twitter.
  • You don’t share valuable information or links.
  • You’re obviously scamming for followers and are hoping I automatically follow back, even if what you do and what I do are in completely different spheres.
  • Even if you’re not scamming for followers, you and I do completely different things—I primarily use Twitter to learn from colleagues and follow very few people who aren’t in education (most of those people are personal friends, some are celebrities).
  • You followed me at a really busy time for me, and I haven’t yet had a chance to check out what you have to say. Give me some time before you decide to unfollow me—unless, that is, you are following me only in the hope that I will follow you.
  • You have protected your updates, and I don’t know you, so I’m not sure whether or not your content will be valuable to me.
  • You’re a business, and I need to watch for a while to see if what you tweet is valuable to me.
  • I don’t recognize anyone in your replies or retweets, which tells me we’re not really tweeting in the same circles.

Reasons I might unfollow you:

  • You stop tweeting.
  • You tweet too often, especially about information I don’t find useful or valuable.
  • We never engage in conversation. I am not sure either of us is really listening to each other.
  • You are more often negative than positive. We all need to vent sometimes, but all the time is excessive for me.
  • You are rude or confrontational (not necessarily to me, either).

Reasons I might block you:

  • You’re on Twitter to advertise your webcam/dating/porn site.

Not good reasons to unfollow (in my opinion):

  • You don’t follow me back. If I find your content valuable, I follow you. Period. I’m not looking for a backscratch.
  • We sometimes disagree. If we always disagree, maybe, but some healthy difference is OK.
  • You don’t always reply to me or acknowledge retweets. I don’t always do either of those things.

Ergo, some reasons I might follow:

  • We have the same interests.
  • You provide valuable content.
  • You regularly converse with people I follow, so clearly we’re tweeting in the same circles.

I tend to give people a fair chance once I’ve followed them. I like to get to know who they are through their tweets. If I’m still not learning from you after a while, or if any of the other issues here apply, I might unfollow. Sometimes I think long and hard before I do it because a lot of people are sensitive about that kind of thing. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone’s feelings. On the other hand, my time is valuable, and I need a return on its investment. I tend to think people are generally too hung up on followers, and not just on Twitter, but everywhere you see social media. You need to engage in social media because of what you get out of it.

4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Twitter”

  1. I completely agree with you on the needing followers thing and what social media means to people. I personally decided to blog to keep track of what I've read and thoughts for the day along with just the ability to write something. Then I got caught up in the number of visitors, comments, followers and had to take a step back mentally and reassess my purpose. This led me to take off my visitor count gadget and realize I decided to blog for me, not for others. Thanks for the reminders of why people engage in social media.

    1. Bree, I think we all get caught up in that numbers game at some point when using any kind of social media, whether it's blog subscribers/comments, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or what have you; I know I've done it, too. I also know, like you, at some point I just realized it wasn't working. I can't remember the last time I checked my stats, and I am still pleasantly surprised when someone references me or comments. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I really respect you for thinking all of this through. I've never taken the time to clean house on my Twitter account. By the time I noticed all of the spam followers on my account I felt overwhelmed. Maybe because I'm so used to social networking and the spam involved I've become desensitized to it all, but I think it's important to review the sort of people that are following me and the ones I'm following. I just need to get around to it…

    It's also difficult when one has an account for multiple purposes. My Tweetdeck has separate columns for education, family/friends, and fellow vegans. Three very different things! So I often wonder if my tweets are alienating people that might otherwise be looking for a more focused person to follow. That said, multiple Twitter accounts seems like too much to handle.

  3. Nicely stated. I've never understood how anyone could be following, oh, 1,200 people, just because those 1,200 people were following them. I like the "brief daily connection" that Twitter can provide, and that's pretty much negated if you're following too many. And while I only follow about 30 people, and only have about 15 people following me, I don't even follow all 15 of those people, because I don't find anything interesting in what they tweet!

    What I like best about Twitter, actually, is that it updates my facebook status. That's where my friends are seeing and responding to my life.

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