There are lots of social media sites out there, and I am on several of them. The one I spend the most time with, though is Twitter. I love the immediacy of it, and that I can use it to keep up with lots of people I know or share interests with.
Twitter helps me not only to keep in touch with friends and colleagues but also to make new friends and business connections. I have used it to “meet” many new people, but I do not follow everyone who follows me.
Not familiar with Twitter? Watch this short video, then keep reading to see how I decide which Twits . . .uh, Twitterers . . .uh, people to follow on Twitter. You might want to use similar criteria to evaluate connections on Twitter and other social networks. And following these guidelines for your online profiles may help you get more friends and followers.
When I first got on Twitter, I started following people I knew personally. As I met new people at events and online, I started following them, too. Most of the people who started following me were people I had encountered offline or online, so I also followed them.
As my numbers of followers/following grew, I started getting follows from people I did not know at all. Usually this happened because we had a mutual friend and discovered each other through that friend. That is the “social” part of social media. I have made many great connections this way.
Then the marketers came. Suddenly, there were people just looking for an audience to spam with their blog posts, ads and other garbage Tweets. They were not interested in community, just seeing how many people they could blast stuff out to.
Lots of other people got on Twitter but then they never did anything with it. They never Tweet, and they do not participate in the community.
When I get a notice that someone is following me on Twitter, I check them out before I decide to follow them. You may also want to do so. Here are some of the things I look for:
Is there a picture? A picture of the person is best, but an attractive avatar is fine. If someone can not take 30 seconds to upload some kind of image, how involved will they be?
What does their profile say? Again, if you can’t take a couple of minutes to add a link to your web site, where you are located (you do not have to be too specific), what you do or some of your interests, why should I care about you?
Have they updated? When I see that someone has not even taken 15 seconds to key in something simple, such as, “Learning how to use Twitter,” I assume that they will not be an active part of the community. Make at least one update before you start following anyone, and make several before you start following a lot of people.
What is their follower/following ratio? There are lots of Big Internet Names (BIN) who are followed by thousands of people but only follow a few dozen to a few hundred. That is to be expected. Lots of people want to know what the BIN is thinking, but the BIN may not want to follow thousands of people they do not know.
It is the other side of the coin I avoid: Those who are following 3,748 people and have 17 people following them. That tells me that this is someone who is following everyone in sight in the hopes that some of them will follow back so they have people to spam. And they are not interesting enough for most people to care about them.
What kind of updates do they post? Is every one just a product pitch or a link to their blog? Is it all about them? Or do they engage with other users (through @ replies, etc.), post interesting links to sites they do not own, and share information? I will not mind getting the occasional self-promotional Tweet from you if that is not all you send.
How often do they Tweet? There is no magic answer here, but once a month is not often enough and 100 times a day is way too often.
If you are not sure about whether or not to follow someone, you can always follow them and then unfollow them later if they do something annoying. The great thing about Twitter is that you can ignore (or even block) anyone you do not want to hear from. When you follow someone they receive an email notice; however, they will not receive an email saying that you unfollowed them. (Update: There is now an application called Qwitter that will notify someone when you stop following them. Qwitter users will get an email when you unfollow.)
Want to follow me on Twitter? I am at http://www.Twitter.com/CathyStucker. If you want me to follow you, too, you might want to take a minute or two to go through this checklist. I am open to following new Twitter users, but I do look for a photo, at least one update, and something in the profile.
Once you follow me, send a Tweet to @CathyStucker and let me know you found me through this blog post. Sometimes the email notices of new followers do not get to me, and that way I will be sure to see you.
Tweet you later!