The general populace has finally turned to the idea that we nerds have said for decades now: get onto social media before it impersonates you. One of the best venues for people afraid to share too much about themselves is Twitter, the 140-characters-per-thought engine, where a simple photograph and a bio separates you from millions of teenagers, spam bots, and wannabe pop stars (or not). Your tweets are completely up to you, but there’s a level of effectiveness that every entrepreneurial tweeter wants to develop in order to use the conscience engine well.
One of those facets is gaining followers. Some people just follow hoards of people, hoping they’ll reciprocate or at the very least pretend to interact with them so they can gain other unsuspecting followers. For marketers and social media heads, that might work, but many niches have caught on to the idea that marketers are little more than intentional junk mailers, and their content usually xeroxes everyone else, like Inception with blog links. At first, we’re likely to follow back anyone within our voices’ range or people who’s work we admire, without regards to building any relationship with them. After a while, we start noticing our timeline flash too fast, and we start getting annoyed because, whether or not we’re sharing, we want to talk back to the people talking at us from afar.
Thus, what keeps most of us frequent flyers sane is that we tend to have guidelines for who we will and won’t follow. After an informal survey, these were the three things that trended amongst those who don’t automatically follow back anyone (a selective, intelligent bunch, we presume):
1. They bring strong content.
Most of the people I follow have me reading everything they say because they’re genuinely interesting. I hate missing even a couple of their tweets because they might have said something important or interesting. They may not follow me back (you get over that quickly), but they crack you up or make you think hard. If their content or celebrity within their niche is strong enough, then they usually develop their own rules for tweeting. Proceed with caution. (Good to note: some people get unlucky because their tweets are similar to someone else’s that I have already, and I won’t follow them back, unless …
2. They have great dialogue.
These are the people I most rely on. I love having conversations with these people, and they respond more often than not. Many of my more recent subscriptions were people who I didn’t really know until I got used to them in my replies. There’s gotta be balance here, too. A couple of people have shown up on my timeline to a point where I may have missed someone else, trying to drill points at me when I haven’t even responded. Dialogue means interactions between two people, and the less people understand that, the less likely people are to follow them.
3. They push perspectives.
After a while, there are a few topics / niches we get ourselves into, and we start developing our personalities within those niches. The biggest temptation for many of us is to act exactly like other tweeters because we see they’ve developed their own following. Please don’t. Uniqueness is imperative. I do my absolute best to follow silo-breakers, or the people who won’t talk to me to death about ed-tech or union business. I care lots about both topics, but we’re allowed to push the boundaries of our niche simultaneously. It’s really a matter of how we do it that separates those who many of us follow and those who don’t.
Otherwise, good luck with Twitter or any other social media venue. And if you ever become interesting or interested, I’ll follow you, too.
Jose, who needed to put this in writing …