If you’re here, it’s because you clicked on the link on my Twitter profile. Welcome! I’ve been using Twitter since August, 2008. It has taken me several months to work out how I use Twitter, and in that time I’ve acquired significantly more followers than those I follow. So I decided it was time to create a policy on following. Fortunately for my laziness, Vicki Brown (@vlb on Twitter) had already pretty much written what I wanted to say, and graciously gave me permission to use major parts of her policy.
How Do I Decide If I’ll Follow You?
- I do not automatically follow back just because someone follows me.
- I prefer to follow real people. It helps if you have a bio and a URL on your page.
- Before I decide to follow you, I will read a few pages of your tweets. If I like what I read, I’ll probably follow you.
What does that mean… “If I like what I read?”
- I like reading about what you are doing and what you think.
- I like to follow people who are interested in the same things I’m interested in: lampworked glass and other arts, cats, technology, social software, books, simplicity. However, I don’t limit myself to following people with only my interests, experiences, or background.
- I follow people I think I would enjoy talking to in “real life”.
- I follow people who obviously know how to write and enjoy doing it. Reasonable grammar and spelling are greatly appreciated.
- If your tweets make me smile or laugh or want to share with other people, I will most likely follow you.
- If you’re one of my students, I’ll probably follow you unless you violate one of my “why won’t I follow you” conditions. Likewise, if you’re a friend IRL, I’ll follow you unless you really piss me off (and if you’re a real friend you won’t).
Why won’t I follow you?
- If the majority of your tweets are promoting your Etsy or Artfire or 1000 Markets listings, I won’t follow you for long. I expect you to tweet when you list something new — I do it also. But if that’s all you have to say, you aren’t interesting enough to me to take up my bandwidth. Talk some about your process, not just your product!
- I’m not interested in politics, religion, or porn. I don’t really care what music you’re listening to. I’m not into sports. I don’t bicycle or run. I don’t watch television. If these are your main interests and you talk about them a lot, I probably won’t follow you.
- I don’t care for excessive profanity and I don’t follow people who tweet consistently in expletives (although I may make exceptions if you make me laugh). I avoid following disagreeable, carping, rude or generally insulting people. Rule of thumb – if you’re tiresome, I won’t follow. Well-done snark, on the other hand, is an art.
- With rare exceptions, I do not follow non-humans (candidates, brands, causes, or companies) or automated tweets. The main exceptions are for the tools I actually use, like Ping.fm and Twitter itself.
- If the majority of your postings are @ replies, where I only see one side of a conversation, I probably won’t follow you. Some @ replies are certainly expected. If that’s all you’re doing, you’re using Twitter as a one-to-one chat program. Since I only subscribe to the default “@ replies to the people I’m following”, if you’re mostly talking to people I don’t follow, why should I care?
- If your tweets are primarily l33tspeak, too full of abbreviations, or “me too” tweets I won’t follow you. Tweet because you actually have something to say in a coherent fashion, not just to take up bandwidth.
- If you tweet so often that you monopolize my incoming stream, especially if those tweets violate point #1, I will probably unfollow you.
- If you are following thousands of people, I probably won’t follow you. If you’re a real person doing this, and you tweet regularly about what you’re doing personally, I’ll let you follow me. If you’re trying to sell me something, tweeting automated babble, or just trying to entice people to follow you back, I will block you if necessary.
If I don’t follow you, it just means your way of using Twitter doesn’t match mine. It’s not a commentary on you as a person. To quote Buzz Bishop: “…If I think you’re valuable, I’ll follow you – if you think I’m valuable, you’ll follow me. The two are mutually exclusive.”