Friday, July 15, 2011

Twitter/Things I've Learned/Rant

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01:  A close-up view of...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
I've been using Twitter for just over a year now. twitter is generally referred to as a micro blogging site. For a long time I didn't understand the appeal. then I finally figured out that it's kind of like a RSS feed. Don't worry if you don't know what an RSS feed is. Suffice it to say twitter bears an uncanny resemblance if you squint your eyes and turn your head sideways. Once that light bulb came on I was ready to sign up and did so in June of 2010. I have some followers but I mostly use it as a place to keep track of what companies and people I'm interested in are up to.

I've learned the following things over the past year plus.
  1. You can respond to somebody else's tweets by putting an @ in front of their twitter handle. Do this at the beginning of the line. For instance, 
    • @emkey1tweets Your pointless ramblings burn my eyes.
  2. You can reference somebody else by putting a # in front of their twitter handle. For instance, 
    • I think #emkey1tweets is an ignorant slug
  3. Some people "follow" others with the expectation that they will be followed back and unfollow soon after when that doesn't happen. In fact, sometimes they unfollow even if you do follow them.
Item number three really annoys me. I at least skim every single tweet that comes across my feeds. For this reason I'm VERY selective about who I follow. I have zero interest in following somebody who followed me just to get a follow back.

I do at least take a look at the profile of anyone who follows me and read a few of their tweets. If those tweets sound interesting and the volume is reasonable and I'm not feeling too over subscribed I might follow them. Quality over quantity is key for me. If the quality drops I'll unfollow and I'd expect others to do the same to me if the tables were turned.

Another thing I've learned is that the odds that anyone who would resort to mass follows to try to get follow backs will be worth following are almost nil.

On the flip side of the coin, two people I've been following for awhile who have very respectable numbers of followers and a high sound to noise ratio are

Semil Shah and
John Refford

Both provide interesting and provocative commentary along with timely links to interesting articles. That is the right way to build a following.

If you happen to follow me on Twitter and I don't follow back please don't feel insulted. I say with complete honesty that it isn't you, it's me. If I follow you I want to be sure I can follow you, not just skip over everything you write because I don't have the time to actually read any of it.
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  1. Hi Mike,

    Each of us has our own criterion for following/unfollowing on Twitter, and no one's system is necessarily the wrong way to do it. If it works for the individual, great!

    That being said, we all have our pet peeves, but the reasons that we attribute to the behavior of others may be erroneous. Like many bloggers, I've recently written my own Twitter post, and if you read it you may come to view the reasons behind some Twitter behaviors differently. In case you don't make it over, I'll summarize by saying that without interaction, I don't enjoy Twitter. One-way broadcasting simply does not interest me. A non-follow is a pretty clear signal that the person whom I've followed is not interested in interaction. :)


  2. Ray, first of all thank you for the comment. One way conversations aren't even half as enjoyable as a good dialog.

    I don't disagree with your general point and you are probably correct in some cases. I'm just highly suspicious when I see somebody following thousands of people on Twitter follow me, particularly when they have nearly as many followers themselves. It is impossible to have quality interactions in that scenario even if your full time job is Twitter. I almost always decline to follow back in that scenario.

    Based on what you're saying I need to rethink how I handle other scenarios.