To follow, or not to follow?

I have been using Twitter for a few years, but more on a personal basis (private account, that was essentially the same stuff as my (also private) Facebook status updates.) It’s only in the last few months that I’ve explored Twitter for more professional reasons. I wish I’d caught onto this earlier. At least for my work, being in the online space, I find that Twitter is an amazing educational resource. There’s an entire web analytics community out there posting their experiences and interesting blogs and articles, some of the gurus of web analytics (@erictpeterson, @avinashkaushik) sharing their thoughts with us without a price tag, and even client-support people sitting on Twitter all day ready to answer questions. (@OmnitureCare)

The one thing I am trying to get my head around is Twitter “etiquette”. As a fairly pragmatic person, here’s how I am approaching the “to follow or not to follow” question.

If someone follows me, great. I’ll check out their recent tweets. If they sound like someone who I want to hear from, then I’ll follow. If not, it’s very nice they’re following me (thank you!) but I don’t feel obligated to reciprocate solely because they followed me.

Things that make me want to follow you:

  1. The majority of your posts are relevant to why I’m on Twitter (web or business analytics, social media, new gadgets, the online space generally, etc.) I’m fine with some more personal stuff interspersed, but I won’t follow you if 9 out of 10 posts are unrelated to my interests.
  2. You share some of your unique thoughts about the industry. I don’t want to follow someone who does nothing but RT others. I’m following you to hear your thoughts, not to hear you habitually regurgitate others.
  3. I am, however, interested in useful RTs, to help me find others I might want to hear from and article posts.  RTing is great, it can help distribute interesting content, and I like reading interesting RTs. And hey, I like being RTed! But per #2, if that’s all you do and share none of your own thoughts, I’ll figure why not just follow the people you keep RTing and take you out of the mix?
  4. You post regularly but not too regularly. I don’t want to hear from you every 30 seconds. I find it hard to believe you can post super frequently and still be posting quality information. Quality over quantity.

Things that will make either pass on following you, or un-follow you (if I already started):

  1. Too many posts. If you post so frequently to take over the feed, I’m likely to unfollow you, unless they’re absolute gems (again, this seems unlikely. PS Why aren’t you working?)
  2. Useless posts. I’m very sorry, but I don’t care if you just ate a ham sandwich, and I definitely don’t care about sports. If you tweet every two seconds of the World Cup, I’m going to un-follow you. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t care about sports. If I wanted to read about it, I’d follow some sports-type-people. (Can you tell I’m such a … uh … sports uh knowledgeable person?)
  3. If you write in a language I don’t understand. This one is absolutely not personal. I actually wish I could follow some people who are posting in German, Spanish, etc. It’s just the reality that there’s not a lot of point in me following you if I don’t know what you’re saying. Blame that one on me for not understanding every language. (That would be nice.)

I would love to hear anyone’s advice of some good dos and don’ts of Twitter etiquette. You can find me at @michelehinojosa. Feel free to follow me, but only if I meet your follow criteria.

2 thoughts on “To follow, or not to follow?

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