A few weeks ago was a first for me: I stopped following someone on Twitter.
The person in question is a webcomic artist who is well known for the drama that swirls around him. I started following him for the chance to pick his brain on becoming successful with my own webcomic. Instead of insight into the world of webcomics, however, I got insight into a very angry individual. I got to see frequent, vulgar complaints about inconsequential things. One day he picked a fight about social views (not the first time), starting off by insulting those who hold my personal views.
I decided it was time to stop following. Then I decided that it was time I started managing who I follow and who follows me.
You Are Who You Hang Out With
The way I see it, your social network associations say as much about you as your real-life associations. We all tend to associate with those who we are like, whose views we share or whose company we enjoy. I had stopped enjoying this person’s company a long time ago but for some reason kept associating with him. When I realized that my association could be considered a tacit approval of or agreement with the views he was airing so rudely, I knew I had to end the association.
The same holds true people following me. If you’ve used Twitter with any frequency at all, you’ve probably noticed that you will suddenly have an increase in followers anytime you’re actively tweeting, but that half of them are spambots — and at least half of those are porn spambots. I try to block those as soon as I find them, because I don’t want the association.
Managing Your Twitter Followers Can Be Like a Reality TV Show
Inspired by one of Sid Raisch’s tweets, I’m proposing an UN-Follow Friday — but I want to make it fun and establish some guidelines for who gets unfollowed or blocked.
Think of the people and companies you’re following or who follow you as contestants on Survivor. Each week at Tribal Council you have a chance to vote them off your island. Each Twitterer is judged based on three criteria:
- Tweet Content
- Tweet Frequency
No one person or company needs to satisfy all three guidelines to stay on the island, but anyone who doesn’t satisfy at least one is getting voted off.
The first guideline is the most obvious: what does the person tweet about? Are the tweets relevant, interesting and/or humorous? In short, why am I following them and what am I getting from the association? You can follow people just because it’s fun (like @CobraCommander or @pagecrusher) or because they’re a celebrity you like (like @wilw), but have some reason why you’re following their tweets. If you never read the person’s tweets (or if their content insults you, like my example), it’s time to cut them loose.
The guideline gets a little relaxed for people following you. Generally, I suggest that as long as they’re not an obvious spammer or particularly offensive they can stay.
One of the people I follow tweets at least 10 times each hour. There is no way I can keep up with all the content that he is pointing to, and sometimes I see the same tweet more than once each day (which may fall under tweet content above). I haven’t stopped following him yet because he does tweet some useful articles, but I’m seriously thinking about it.
I follow a few people just because they’re friends of mine, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. In fact, it’s sometimes a good way for us to keep tabs on each other, and occasionally we’ll use Twitter as a way to point each other to content we know the other will like. Additionally, I’ve started to make some friends on Twitter (using some of techniques I discussed in a previous post) who I only know through Twitter. I’m not likely to drop anyone I have a relationship with (real or virtual) unless their tweets become too much of a problem under the first two guidelines.
So there are my Twitter follow/follower management guidelines. As before, I plan to follow my own advice. Not sure which day I’ll pick to be my Tribal Council day, but it will probably be Friday or Saturday since I usually have fewer pressing deadlines on those days.
What will your Tribal Council day be?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of treating Twitter like a P.A. system; you tell everyone about the articles you’re reading online, your latest blog post or even the food you just had for dinner and expect that you’ll gain followers and readers.
However, unless you’re a major brand or some kind of celebrity, it probably won’t work like that. Instead, you’ll tweet and tweet and tweet and get very little attention.
Why is that?
Well, in Twitter-speak you’re being a broadcaster. That is, you’re talking a lot but not really “joining the conversation.”
Think of real life: do you like to talk to someone who keeps talking endlessly without giving you a chance to respond (or who completely ignores you when you do)? Of course not. People like to have interaction; a chance to ask questions and to make observations of their own.
Now, you’re not a bad person if you’ve acting like a broadcaster — at least, I hope not, since I’ve fallen into the broadcasting trap myself. However, you’re not using Twitter to its full potential. The true strength of Twitter, like any social network, is in building relationships — because, as LinkedIn says, relationships matter.
So how am I going to stop being a broadcaster and start building relationships? Here are my thoughts:
Remember it’s not all about me
Everyone on Twitter wants to be heard, and it’s good to acknowledge someone who’s tweeted something interesting or relevant. A great way to do this, of course, is the retweet; forwarding someone else’s tweet to your followers. Twitter has a function for this now, but I still like to do it the old-fashioned way: either a) cut-and-paste the tweet, adding “RT” to the front, or b) using the retweet function on TweetDeck. This lets me explain why I think it’s worth retweeting.
When my friend JosephRanseth co-hosted an webinar on “Guerilla Social Marketing,” I didn’t just forward his announcements, I encouraged people to come and then sent out the link to the recorded version after along with my thoughts on how the webinar went.
Make Good Use of Follow Fridays
As long as I’m acknowledging other people, I really need to take part in Follow Fridays. #FollowFriday or #ff gives me a chance to point to someone else who I think is worth following on Twitter, and — as with retweets — tell others why I think this person is worth following.
My friend Joseph had some good thoughts on the subject over at his blog. I’m not sure he always follows his own advice, but it’s good advice anyway.
Comment, Ask Questions, Answer Questions
I can’t expect people to reply to me unless I’m willing to reply to them. It’s kind of like dating. I didn’t date very much before I got married, largely because I didn’t do my part to engage members of the opposite sex. I didn’t talk enough to them, so they didn’t talk enough to me.
When Dave Kellett asked his followers what typeface captured the fun and energy of “Squee!,” I answered. In fact, I posted an image on TwitPic with my choice (Alpha Thin) and sent a download link if he decided to use my suggestion. I forgot to adjust my kerning on the image and Dave never replied, but hey, I actually engaged someone. I need to do this more — there’s no better way to show someone that their tweet is important to you than to actually reply to it.
Join a conversation
I think the best experience I’ve had on Twitter was joining #webcomicschat hosted by Patrick Scullin. This is Twitter taken to a logical conclusion: a mass instant messaging system. I enjoy webcomics and hope to get back to one of my own someday, so I like joining in with other like-minded twitterers to discuss whatever topics get thrown out.
I haven’t had a chance to join in on the chat for awhile, but hopefully I’ll be free tomorrow for the next one.
Start a conversation
This is the step I’m not sure I’m ready for quite yet. I’d like to host a regular chat like Patrick does. I have a few that I’d like to do, ranging in topics from graphic design to creating a more focused webcomics chat that would specifically be a big brainstorming session for concepts and stories. I think that I’ll hold this as a goal while I work on the first four steps a little longer. Hopefully, the next time I post about this topic I’ll be able to say that I’m not a broadcaster anymore.
Got any more ideas for how to make the move from being a broadcaster to forming actual (virtual) relationships? Leave them below — I’d love the help!
- Better Includes and Excludes for wp_list_pages
- WordPress Wednesday: How to Use paginate_comments_links Only When You Really Mean It
- What Health Insurance Is and Isn’t
- WordPress Wednesday: Turn Any Shortcode into a Template Tag
- Survivor: Twitter – 3 Guidelines for Managing Who You Follow and Who Follows You
- Conversation with a friend today put me on this article. I realize this will be only mildly humorous to most of... fb.me/KK5hDtE3 6 months ago
- (SON OF) HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST Halloween Theme (John Carpenter, 1978) Another from the year I was born...a simple,... fb.me/876G0fUUF 6 months ago
- (SON OF) HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST The Batman Season 1 Intro (The Edge, 2004) It wasn't well-received, but I... fb.me/8vIl30r3e 6 months ago
- (SON OF) HALLOWEEN PLAYLIST Thriller (Michael Jackson, 1984) Created to "save the recording industry", this... fb.me/48i6qAMHO 6 months ago
- Zeb fb.me/7gJeH19qo 6 months ago
- An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.