“Being a Twitter snob is a good thing,” declared Mitch Joel in a recent post. Joel’s “snobbism” consists of selectively following far fewer people than follow him on Twitter. He believes “who you follow adds to your credibility.” And a selective list adds value for the lucky few whom you choose to follow.
Like me, you probably cringe at the idea of being a snob. But take a look at my Twitter following-followers numbers and you could accuse me of snobbishness: I follow fewer people than follow me.
Twitter is a time suck
Twitter delights, but it also distracts. I could happily trawl, click and tweet all day long, if it weren’t for a few teeny obligations like my clients’ copywriting projects, this blog, my cooking blog and my family and community responsibilites. Even though I use Tweetdeck to filter and organize tweetstreams, I don’t have the time or mental dexterity to follow thousands of conversations.
So I don’t. And in my haphazard way, I’ve developed guidelines to help me choose which I do follow.
My Twitter Follow Formula
My first rule—and one that informs all others—is no auto-follows. I review follows manually. Unfortunately, it’s time-consuming to check each person’s profile, Tweetstream and blog. Sometimes weeks pass before I can carve out time to look at follows. The selection begins with…
I automatically weed out:
- Adult entertainers and escort pros
- Nudies or people who show cleavage, bare chests or just too much skin. Save it for the beach.
- Photos of Freddy Kruger masks. Or swastikas. Or blood-filled goblets.
- Self-proclaimed gurus, evangelists, ninjas or warriors.
- “Passionate” people. You know, people who describe their commitment to digital marketing—or coaching or small business—as “passionate” in their profiles. Here’s UK comic David Mitchell’s take on the current passion for passion.
- @DarkOverlord or @HerSatanicMajesty or anyone else who goes by scary, quasi-demonic monikers.
- People who define themselves by religion in their profiles. With rare exception, I believe in separation of Church and Tweetstream.
- Moms. Don’t jump all over me—I’m a mother of three
beastlywonderful children. But my professional interests lie outside of momism.
- Wits who describe themselves as “potty-mouthed.” Yawn.
- Bores who use Twitter as a one-way broadcast system to tweet only about their products, services, discounts, posts, podcasts and Digital Warrior Training Courses.
- Mystery Tweeps who don’t create Twitter profiles.
- Silent types who haven’t tweeted in weeks or months. Or ever. Ever been followed by someone who has never tweeted? I don’t get it.
- Marketers with a gazillion followers—like over 25,000—but of whom I’ve never heard and with whom I feel I have nothing in common.
- Door slammers: People who lock their accounts. Another Twitter oddity: Why follow someone, then make them jump through hoops to follow back?
After eliminating many follows, I take a few minutes to dig a little deeper to learn more about a person. I tend to follow people who:
- Post full profiles that tell me more about themselves. Since I use Twitter for business I like to know about work and location, but I’m also curious about a person’s interests and avocations.
- Post a photo of themselves.
- Share my interests—pretty wide ranging, including but not limited to copywriting, content marketing, creative writing, journalism, cooking, sustainable farming, design, modern art, theater, personal style, horses, dogs, kids and other animals.
- Tweet smart, interesting, informative, newsworthy, entertaining tweets and links instead of self-aggrandizing crap—see “Bores who use Twitter as a one-way broadcast system,” above.
- Blog or publish original content. Many times, this is my deal breaker: A person’s publishing platform speaks volumes about her professionalism, thought leadership and desire to create community.
Are you a Twitter snob?
Do you follow selectively on Twitter? Why? What’s your criteria for following? Or are you on the other side of the Twitter follow spectrum: Do you believe in following everyone who follows you? Please share how you do it. Dying for details.