Follow or foe?

Marketing

Last week social media and online marketing dude Ari Herzog wrote about his plan to unfollow all his Twitterers and start from scratch.

The Twittersephere watched closely as Ari began rebuilding his new connections one by one.

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That’s because follower numbers and following policies seem to be emotionally-charged topics. Just look at the recent Ashton Kutcher/CNN race to a million followers on Twitter.

Ari’s decision had to do with the value he gets from those he follows. Only a month ago he was following over 500 people on Twitter but during April he changed his strategy and that number rocketed to over 6,000.

You see, the thing about Twitter is that generally if you follow lots of people more people will follow you. But then you run the risk of not being able to engage in any meaningful exchanges because your Twitter stream is flooded with tweets from folks you barely know, and about subjects you have no interest in. Unless you’re monitoring Twitter 24-7, you rarely get to tweet with the folks that you get most value from. So Twitter just becomes a noise.

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There are many folks who successfully follow lots of people because they’re leveraging tools such as TweetDeck allowing them to organise people into groups. I’ve never liked applications like this. It’s just a personal preference. I enjoy going to the Twitter website. End of.

Ari asked his blog readers for their opinion and the concensus was that following less people is better than following thousands if you want to get the most value from Twitter. So Ari paid SocialToo $25 to wipe his Twitter slate clean.

And here’s where the drama is: there are lots of folks on Twitter who will unfollow you if you unfollow them. It’s a big deal to some people. There’s a school of thought that suggests you’re arrogant or a snob if you don’t follow everyone who follows you. Ari has been busy explaining his new follow policy to his followers and I’m pleased that he still seems to have a healthy number of Twitterers listening to his updates.

All of this got me thinking.

What was my own Twitter follow policy? Did I have one? And can I justify my choices?

It turns out I do and I can.

I realised that, like Ari, I only follow folks who provide value to me.

I have around 680 people following me and I follow about 450. I check out every person who chooses to follow me. I read through their tweets and usually click through to their website or blog if one is available. I make my follow decisions carefully. I am also quick to unfollow if I don’t get value from tweets.

Those newer to Twitter might take a while to get used to this type of behaviour. A fellow blogger made her first unfollow last night and immediately had ‘unfollowers remorse.’

squigglemum-does-her-first-unfollow

Honestly, I still feel disappointed if I notice someone has unfollowed me but for everyone you lose there’s another rocking person right around the corner. And I’ve learned not to take it personally and by the same token nor should you if I unfollow you.

Twitter is a merely a reflection of the pace of our lives now. If you don’t have what I want, I move on to someone who will. Heck, that makes me sound like such a bitch. I’m really not. And nor is Ari.

Photo courtesy of ittybittiesforyou via a Creative Commons Licence

2 Comments

  1. Liz,

    I followed Ari’s twitter stream for a while. For a while there we followed each other reciprocally. Then he unfollowed me and after a while, I unfollowed him too. Then he did the whole “ultra follow everyone” and then the “ultra unfollow everyone”. I did exactly the same thing. I followed him back, interacted for a bit, then he unfollowed me – I made a decision then on whether I wanted to follow him despite the unfollow, and I decided against it.

    I am connected to Ari through Facebook. He’s been kind to me and I enjoy occasionally going to his Twitter stream and reading what he’s up to. The fact that we don’t follow each other doesn’t mean that we don’t respect each other (all of this is to say, I agree with the fact that unfollowing someone shouldn’t make us feel bad – heck I’ve been unfollowed by the amazing number of 3,400 people).

    I follow 582 people now and I’m followed by 2,702 – I wish I could follow more but physically, I can’t. But sometimes, some social media “stars” do engage in bitchy behaviour. They do, and I can list names but that would be bitchy in and of itself. One of the nastiest behaviors I’ve seen is saying “I’m going to unfollow everyone”. Becomes an adversarial, “in your face”, “I don’t give a damn about what you say” kind of interaction.

    I don’t do social media for a living, I just use it for fun and to build great friendships. But I think those who DO do social media for profit/as a way of making a living could do very well helping newbies learn about Twitter without being all diva along the way.

    My 2 cents.

  2. Liz,

    I followed Ari’s twitter stream for a while. For a while there we followed each other reciprocally. Then he unfollowed me and after a while, I unfollowed him too. Then he did the whole “ultra follow everyone” and then the “ultra unfollow everyone”. I did exactly the same thing. I followed him back, interacted for a bit, then he unfollowed me – I made a decision then on whether I wanted to follow him despite the unfollow, and I decided against it.

    I am connected to Ari through Facebook. He’s been kind to me and I enjoy occasionally going to his Twitter stream and reading what he’s up to. The fact that we don’t follow each other doesn’t mean that we don’t respect each other (all of this is to say, I agree with the fact that unfollowing someone shouldn’t make us feel bad – heck I’ve been unfollowed by the amazing number of 3,400 people).

    I follow 582 people now and I’m followed by 2,702 – I wish I could follow more but physically, I can’t. But sometimes, some social media “stars” do engage in bitchy behaviour. They do, and I can list names but that would be bitchy in and of itself. One of the nastiest behaviors I’ve seen is saying “I’m going to unfollow everyone”. Becomes an adversarial, “in your face”, “I don’t give a damn about what you say” kind of interaction.

    I don’t do social media for a living, I just use it for fun and to build great friendships. But I think those who DO do social media for profit/as a way of making a living could do very well helping newbies learn about Twitter without being all diva along the way.

    My 2 cents.

Comments are closed.