Twitter Follow Fail/Win

In response to Mashable’s Twitter Follow Fail, my own 10 Reasons why I won’t follow you on Twitter:

1. You’re trying to sell me something. This goes for all entrepreneurs of all varieties, particularly the “social media” ones. Now, if you’re a social media entrepreneur but not directly using Twitter to market yourself and your company, but instead using Twitter like everyone else, that’s cool.

2. You follow a zillion people. By a zillion I mean something near or over a thousand, because it’s unlikely that you’re even able to follow all those people. So why are you following me? It’s not like you’re really going to read what I’m saying right? Now, as an exception: if your tweets are awesome and I want to follow you for the content, I don’t care how many people you follow, and if you follow me I will follow you back.

3. You follow a zillion people, hardly anyone follows you, and you have no posts. It’s work to follow a zillion people, so I’m suspicious. Are you using twitter as a feed reader? I sometimes post links, but that’s not really what I use twitter for. Are you just trying to gather followers?

4. You post pretty much nothing but RTs and memes. I’d rather follow people with original ideas rather than rerouters.

5. You post about your follower count. “Three more followers and I’ll be at X00!” “Yay, just hit 500 followers!” Anything like that. Even if I know you, this calls for an immediate unfollow. Sorry. I don’t want to be a notch in anyone’s belt. Clarification: posting about wondering why a bunch of people recently unfollowed you, and wondering if you’ve been offensive, doesn’t make me unfollow. It’s only if you’re demonstrating that you’re using twitter only partly to do anything other than gather enough followers to feel good about yourself.

6. Your archives consist largely of @replies. Some people say this is a display of engaging with your community, but I have my twitter set to not show me any @replies to people I don’t follow. So: if all you do is use twitter as a public chatroom, I’m not going to see your updates anyway. And I don’t think that’s a very effective use of the medium.

7. You post about specific topics that don’t interest me. I sometimes get followed by people who post mostly about life with kids kids, or entertaining kids. I don’t dislike kids, but I have no interest in reading about them on twitter. Sorry. edit: unless I know you and/or your kids. I want to hear about @halavais‘s baby, of course. just not generic stuff for kids. Well, unless it’s YA fiction, which is a whole other topic. Maybe I should think this one through some more.

8. You’re a “life coach”. Just…no.

9. All your posts appear to be automated. I don’t really understand the blip.fm-to-twitter phenomenon, and I already use a greasemonkey script to remove them from my feed. If all your updates are just blip.fm links, I’m unlikely to follow you.

10. You are arguing against gay marriage, posting about your love of the Republicans or of Stephen Harper. So not interested.

Now: 10 reasons I WILL follow you on Twitter:

1. You’re a librarian. I love following librarians. All kinds of librarians. I like to use Twitter as part of my work, so I love seeing what librarians are thinking about.

2. You work in a library. I love hearing from everyone in the library world.

3. You’re in library school. I miss being in school, so I’d be very very happy to read updates about your classes and things that interest you. I think of it as a way to listen in on classes.

4. You’re interested in social media/emerging technologies from an educational/community perspective. I’m not interested in the “social media for profit” crowd, but am very interested in the “social media for fun and learning” crowd.

5. You make me laugh. Hello, @StephenFry.

6. I know you, or I should know you. You live in Toronto, you work at the same school as me, we move in the same circles, you’re my husband, my best friend, or my dad. We’ve had dinner together. We hang out on the same IRC channel or other online community. Something like that.

7. You go to the same conferences I do. I will definitely follow you if I see you tweeting about the same conferences I’m at. I love to hear the thoughts of other conference attendees.

8. You’re at a conference I wish I were at. It’s great to hear what’s going on at a conference I can’t attend. If you’re there, I might want to keep following you after the conference too.

9. I admire your work. Academics, start-up owners, Googlers, etc.

10. You respond to me in an interesting way. I might not have noticed you before, but you responded to something I said in a way that piqued my interest. I’m a sucker for intelligence and thoughtfulness.

I bet this says a lot about what I use twitter for.

8 thoughts on “Twitter Follow Fail/Win”

  1. Ack, after my whole “you should use Twitter how you want to use it” post, I’m feeling self conscious all over again! Definitely many of my archives are @replies. I’m not trying to get followers, certainly not people I don’t know, so it may not matter. And Mashable—I’ve floated around the site but it seems like social media for professional uses, am I right? All their “how to get the most out of X” are pretty far from what I’m often thinking; I don’t want students or clients to be following me.

    But I have to say, the ability to have asynchronous chat with people I know who aren’t on chat or emailing often is a big plus for me on Twitter.

    So what would you say is the effective use of the medium?

    1. Oh, I have lots of @replies too, I’ve just seen people who’s entire archive is @replies, and it’s impossible to find out what they’re actually into.

      Chat on twitter is tricky, because if the response isn’t immediate it’s hard to know what they heck the @reply is in reference to. I’ve had a few that I’m like, whut? Kind of hard to follow. In the immediate, it’s great!

      Don’t feel self-conscious though, everyone’s trying to find out how they want to use all the media they have access to. This is my take on things.

  2. Great insights as I attempt to pick up some momentum/learning with twitter. I’m already tiring of obvious auto-responders from recent additions.

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