Twitter bird paper-toy by Nerea Marta.

"Twitter bird paper-toy" by Nerea Marta

[Updated from my original post written in December 2008 :: Additions are in italics]

When I first started using Twitter about a year ago in 2007, I would follow anyone who first followed me. As Twitter has grown, I have realized that I need to be more discerning so that I don’t get overwhelmed. Here’s a brief description of my thought process.

I tend to automatically follow:

  • people I’ve met in real life (if I liked them when I met them)
  • students of mine at Georgia Southern University & Southeastern University
  • PR students & faculty from other universities
  • people who live in the Savannah or Statesboro (GA) Lakeland/Tampa/Orlando areas
  • people who engage me in positive ways with @barbaranixon tweets

Occasionally, I’ll revisit the people I’m currently following and make a determination if I still want to invest time in following them. Today I looked back at the last two days of tweets in my time line. And then I made a purge of about 250 people that I was following. I honestly have no idea why I was following some in the first place. Some were laced with foul language, while others just plain brought me down with their negative tone. Others tweeted about things that I’m no longer interested in.

If your tweets don’t make me learn or laugh, then quite often I don’t keep following. It’s as simple as that. However, I may add you to a Twitter list and look at the list on occasion. Or I may engage with you when I follow a hashtag like #TopChef (as we live-tweet the Bravo TV show) or #NASCAR (during races).

About once a month, I’ll visit my Followers page and hover my mouse over a name. If there’s no real name or any bio at all, I usually don’t look further. I’ll read a bio if it’s there. If in your bio you’re promising me things that I’d hear in a late-night infomercial, it’s unlikely I’ll follow you. Things in a bio that may intrigue me include:

  • public relations or social media
  • student affairs / higher education
  • photography
  • Auburn University
  • Presbyterian
  • NASCAR
  • autism or Asperger’s syndrome
  • food/cooking

Though it’s not hypercritical, I prefer engaging in conversations on Twitter with people who use their real photos. It’s nice to have a name and a face together.

If I make it as far as looking at your most recent tweets:

  • Is there a mix of original comments, @replies,  retweets and links? (If all the tweets are of one type, I usually don’t follow.)
  • Do I see @replies to people I know?
  • Do I think I’ll learn something from you?
  • Are many of your tweets of a positive nature (not whiny)?
  • Do you avoid foul language (most of the time)?
  • Do you make me laugh?

If I haven’t followed you, and you would like me to, it’s generally a good idea to send me an @barbaranixon so that I know you’re interested in engaging in conversation with me. And if it seems like I’ve been talking in a foreign language here, take a look at A Twitter Lexicon.

So, what’s your strategy? How do you decide whom to follow?

barbara_is_listening


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32 Responses to Choosing Whom to Follow on Twitter :: A Strategy

  1. I found these tips to be very interesting i tend to follow usually anyone but your tips have helped me realize that i need to be more careful with who I follow. I like when you talked about the fact that you only follow people if they have a bio. I tend to not look to see if they even have a bio, but from now on with your tips i now know who i should follow.

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  26. Nothing says:

    I agree with many of those points.
    The only problem I had is, I find it rather silly to not add (or unfollow) someone just because they use curse words. As we’re all adults, it simply comes off as rather immature to lose what could be a great friendship because said person uses “no-no words”.

    • Dear Nothing (wish I could use your name, but this is what appears above),

      I often demo Twitter for students and clients, so I choose to be careful with what people in the audience will see. If it was just for me, I can overlook some inappropriate language, but I don’t want to be embarrassed with what appears on a big screen. It’s a choice I made. Your choice may be different.

      Barbara

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  30. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Barbara B. Nixon and Barbara B. Nixon, Jon Thomas. Jon Thomas said: Pretty solid strategy, I think – RT @BarbaraNixon: After doing a purge, I updated my Choosing Whom to Follow Strategy: http://bit.ly/a8aQOs […]

  31. […] 2010-07-13T07:43:24  [Blog]: Choosing Whom to Follow on Twitter :: A Strategy [link to post] […]

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