Whatever the reason, one thing is true â€“ more and more people are signing up for accounts and joining the fast-expanding Twitter universe.
At the same time, I discover people new to me and start following them.
In deciding whether or not to follow someone â€“ whether itâ€™s someone Iâ€™ve discovered myself or someone whoâ€™s started following me and Iâ€™m deciding whether or not to follow them as well â€“ I have four questions I ask myself before making a decision:
- Does he or she have something interesting (highly subjective, I know) in their Twitter bio? Important point: there must be something written in the bio.
- Is there a location shown and a link in that bio to a website or a blog, or to a Facebook or LinkedIn profile?
- Does the person have more followers than he or she is following or is the ratio pretty close at least?
- If Iâ€™m considering following someone back whoâ€™s just started following me, is their profile open on Twitter?
A couple of other questions I ask myself, whose answers arenâ€™t so critical:
- Are there any people I know (not necessarily who I follow or follow me) shown in the list of little icons of followers on the personâ€™s Twitter page?
- If I glance through the personâ€™s tweets on the screen Iâ€™m looking at, what feeling do I get about the person? Is it someone I instinctively would say â€œyes, I want to know what you talk about on Twitterâ€?
These simple guidelines have worked for me so far and I hear similar sentiment from many of my Twitter friends.
Yesterday on Mashable, Atherton Bartelby lists â€œThe Top 10 Reasons I Will Not Follow You in Return on Twitter.â€ My seven questions from above are in there in one form or another.
Hereâ€™s the description of people Atherton wouldnâ€™t follow if their Twitter profile and/or behaviour matched these attributes:
- You have no user avatar
- You list no location, no website, or no bio
- Your â€œwebsiteâ€ listed is a MySpace profile
- Youâ€™re following over 1,000 users, have 20 followers, and no updates
- Your profile features any variation of â€œInternet expertâ€
- Your updates clearly indicate that your Twitter activity is always, only, about pushing your own service/product
- Your following and my return follow result in a poorly-constructed auto-DM reading, â€œThx for the follow! How can I help you get to a 4-Hour Work Week?â€
- Your most recent updates make references to any need to achieve â€œmore Twitter followersâ€
- Your Twitter stream indicates a propensity for consistent arguing
- You do not engage your Twitter followers
Absolutely, this is a great list! Head on over to Mashable to read the detail.
If youâ€™re starting out with Twitter, my advice would be to listen and learn: find a couple of people you know, follow them, â€œlistenâ€ to what they say, start participating in some of the chit-chat. Soon enough, people may start following you.
Much really depends on your own objectives for being part of the Twitter community. But, like much of other social media including blogs, you need to show some authenticity and ability to listen.
Some recommended reading that might help you discover how to genuinely connect with others on Twitter:
- All of a Twitter, a PDF written last October by Luke Razzell which he describes thus: â€œI look at the incredibly diverse ways that people are using Twitter, then tease out some common threads that run through all these User Experiences.â€ Itâ€™s good.
- Yesterday, Shane Richmond, the Daily Telegraphâ€™s Communities Editor, posted Twitter: a step-by-step guide to getting started. Equally good.
- The Twitter Power guide eBook by American podcaster and blogger Christopher Penn: â€œThis little eBook is about how to make the most of Twitterâ€™s power without spending your entire life on it. In other words – how to make Twitter work for you without Twitter becoming work itself.â€
Just the tip of an iceberg, though â€“ thereâ€™s an awful lot of posts and publications about Twitter out there. For the ultimate, check out Twitter for Dummies, a project-in-progress that you can be part of, from social media maven Laura Fitton in the US.