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The Secret to Following

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Posted by: Gabriella Sannino

twiiter-300x300Editors note – updated information

This post has been updated with some cool tools to clean up your follow and no follow ride on Twitter.

The more I am on Twitter the more I love it and hate it. I have become very active with this new toy, or should I say Tool, and interested in how to best use it in this social online phenomenon. I have been doing a lot of reading and testing out new tools, which has caused me to change the way I Twitter.

A few have noticed and commented on it. Some days I am so busy I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom, let alone check my Twitter updates, but I did promise those people that I would write about my Follow or no Follow rules. So here it is…

For those of you on Twitter, I am sure you each have a certain criteria by which you use the program. There are tons of articles out there on how they got tons of followers and they all live happily ever after. Some articles are great, like “11 Ways to Lose Friends and Followers Online” by Brett Borders.

Needless to say, I was surprised at some of the examples. Surely, people aren’t that naïve, ignorant, and, yes, downright idiotic. However, he responded to my question with: “All of these were real updates taken from my Tweetdeck. In some cases, the names or the avatars were changed to protect privacy but the updates were for realz.” Well, that took me by surprise. It goes to show you, never doubt the ability to make a fool of yourself in large crowds.

Another article I enjoyed, “Twitter & the Law of Reciprocity” written by Kristi Colvin, was another spot on description of this very topic. She goes so far as to post diagrams to illustrate her point. What it boils down to is this: we are not going to agree with everyone’s suggestions, but everyone is arguably right.

A site I happened upon that also touched on the follow to no follow examples was a cute video that shatters the honeymoon, but allows you as the viewer to engage and really appreciate the comic side of Twitter. The message is clear: don’t engage by posting noise, but engage by posting valuable information. With that said, let me also say that not everyone is going to like you; it’s just a fact of life.

Therefore, whom do you follow and how can you make a difference with your followers? There are several tools for following people in your niche market. Here are some ideas for “Managing Your Twitter Followers and the People You Follow”.

In my humble opinion, following people is simple; it’s about building quality versus quantity. The best way I can describe my follow to no follow rule is with this break down

• Following friends is the first rule of thumb
• Follow your competitors
• Searching keywords that you are interested in
• Follow people that come across your feed that have something interesting to say
• Sometimes I peruse followers from others profiles and have made some good contacts
• Follow people that RT

Don’t follow

• People that make a lot of noise (i.e.; I am bored, I am in my car, I am sexy etc.)
• Spammers (they are easy to spot either a bulbous blond or they have no history on their posts basically spam)
• Those who post nothing but their own stuff. (check out my blog; check out my article; check out how many followers I have)
• People with automatic “Thank you for following” sales messages (unfollow!)
• People who consistently post dead links. Generally, these are wanna be spammers. However, even if they’re not, if the links are always dead and they’re always posting links instead of anything else mixed in, they’re not doing anything for you anyway.

You’ll build your own follow and no follow rules as time goes by, but if you break them down you’ll find that most no follows are due to boredom, irritation or disgust.

Boredom – those that are monotonous. They never have anything to say.
Irritation – what they have to say is not worth it or sales.
Disgust – those that auto post. You can tell – they post fifteen messages in a row.

Here are some tools that will help you clean your Twitter noise.

Buzzom’s : Grow, Flush, Reciprocate, Cross follow. Pretty cool actually I have been cleaning up some dead weight!

Manage Twitter: This is a real easy way to see who’s been missing from Twitter which I love. Including mass unfollow! After all it’s one of the way’s I can add “real” valuable followers.

What are your no follow and follow rules?

Comments (18)

  • Avatar
    zoooni Reply

    wow thats a nice post i follow everyone who follows me most of the time but there are exceptions like people with no profilepic, people with no website address and people with no bio etc
    follow me twitter
    http://twitter.com/zoooni

    March 20, 2009 at 6:44 am
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    Bonnie Burns Reply

    Wonderful post. Great points addressed. The good,the bad, the ugly. On twitted I always review all followers. Can be time consuming but is needed. I want quality not quantity. I look for folks in my field of work as well as those that are just plain interesting, funny and are not spammers. I like the different views of people as well. May not always agree, but that is what life is made of.

    That is my 3 cents. ( inflation causes me to charge more for my thoughts)
    Bonnie – burnsie_seo. Sorry for spelling errors. Doing this on iPhone and it is a pain at times

    March 20, 2009 at 10:49 am
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    Ching Ya Reply

    Very relevant. A social gadget is meant to get ‘social’ and not about bots or auto messaging (unless there are GOOD explanations for that). I admit when I started tweeting, I knew nothing, so basically just followed a friend’s following list, now I’ll do much digging about their bios, conversations & contents (their sites as well) before adding. For the followers, if I could I’ll try to follow back, not all in some extent but I’ll try to give myself a chance to know more people/expose to the topics I’m interested in if possible.

    Still learning though, and tactics would change over time. Always, quality over quantity — that’s a motto I’d like to bear in mind. ^^ I’m sure you’ll agree on that too. Great post, enlightening.

    @wchingya
    -Social Media/Blogging

    April 2, 2009 at 7:20 am
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    Gabriella Reply

    Sometimes I wonder how many times I can change my mind about using Twitter. Look bottom line is you use Twitter the best way it works for you. Sure some of us are still trying to figure out what that is but that’s the beauty of a new toy, you keep playing with it till it fits. 🙂 thanks guys for your input!

    April 4, 2009 at 8:18 am
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    Sal Reply

    You know, I just went through and cleaned out my followers from all the people who are just generating noise. I was trying to figure out a way to simplify the process of whether or not to follow and it looks like you did a great job here. I think I also need to start looking further back in people’s tweets to see if they constantly post good info. I noticed that many people I follow have one or two good tweets and the rest are rediculous, but I follow them because I figure they might say more useful stuff…alas, this is not the case.

    April 9, 2009 at 8:46 am
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    christian Reply

    Great read on following. I am working on a posting similar – feel like I need to get it out there, why I do and do not follow certain people. Since Twitter has come along (to me anyway) I have just been taken over by learning and using this tool to grow my website and network with like-people. The key” like-people. I have read and am following some of the tweeps you mentioned!

    http://twitter.com/printedproof

    April 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm
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      Gabriella Reply

      May I suggest you throw the net a bit farther than “like minded people” what I mean by that is lets say you follow someone that is in real estate investments in London, it may have nothing to do with your business but, if you have a certain relationship with them show some interest in what they are doing, spend time cultivating somewhat of a mutual respect I can almost guarantee you will be the first person he asks if the question arises about your service. I hope that makes sense. Plus the fact you could learn about Real estate investments in London.. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by.

      April 2, 2009 at 12:54 pm
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      Gabriella Reply

      Sometimes jumping into things is not a warm and fuzzy feeling. That is human nature I think they call it the “fear of the unknown” Personally I have never been afraid to try something at least once… If I don’t like it I move on it’s rare but it does happen. Thanks for posting Christian I will be following you now.:)

      April 10, 2009 at 6:39 am
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    Maggy Reply

    Like you said there are several articles out there that can tell you how to decide who to follow and who not to follow, but like you said in the end it is a skill that you will develope on your own over time.

    April 16, 2009 at 3:58 pm
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    Gini Dietrich Reply

    I love this post and know you and I agree on this topic.

    My follow rules are:
    * People who have photos as avatars
    * People who took time to write a 160 character bio and include both business and professional
    * Those who are recommended to me by people I talk to daily…not on FollowFriday with a bunch of other people
    * Those who have split personalities on Twitter (cough, cough @SEOCopy)
    * Those friends who have their animals on Twitter, just because I think it’s funny
    * CEOs, entrepreneurs, small business owners, kick butt women

    I will not follow you if you have a logo as an avatar, haven’t bothered with a bio, and only tweet about your company’s happenings…UNLESS someone I know and trust has told me I’d enjoy conversation with that person/company/building…whatever the heck they are.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post!

    http:://twitter.com/ginidietrich

    June 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm
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      Gabriella Reply

      There you go again… talking about my split personality. Lets think about the wisdom behind the madness. I run three online companies. They all have a definite niche and they are all producing an income. How could I ask someone, anyone to be me? It’s not easy. So rather than miss opportunities, I try to reach my market with different a different approach. The fact I read and write 5 languages almost inspired me to have 5 twitter accounts. But I resisted. My favorite saying is “Everything goes somewhere, & I go everywhere”… Not sure who said that but it shows strength, vision, and someone who is a go getter. That would be me!

      June 9, 2009 at 6:30 am
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    Jamie Sandford Reply

    This is a great post and I’m always interested in seeing what people use as their criteria for finding followers. As in business, I try to surround myself with people who are like me (for good quippy conversation) and those who aren’t like me; these are the people that give your network diversity and cause you to broaden your scope of thinking. Don’t surround yourself with a bunch of “you”.

    That being said, I also try to find people who have great tweets with substance that won’t get lost in the stream. The infamous “going to walk the dog” tweet doesn’t provide value to me in the way that I use Twitter. If I see a bunch of these in a stream, I’m less likely to follow because I’m (unfortunately) going to miss your good stuff when you do post a great link or tidbit because I’ll be used to overlooking most of the content.

    Find and build a diverse base. Grab a few artists if you’re a techie type. If you’re a hunter, go find someone who is a chef and listen to them. Twitter is a great tool to help you expand your horizons.

    Jamie
    @jsandford

    June 10, 2009 at 8:50 am
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      Gabriella Reply

      In order to learn one has to be open to all ideas. There are many things I don’t agree with… From politics, to religion, to dress code. We are human and that in itself is already a mouthful. The beauty of Twitter for me is it’s a big playground, I have been trying to add around 20 new people I follow a week just so I can open my mind to diverse cultures, learn and of course engage. It’s like a big cocktail party except this one never ends. Thanks for dropping by Jamie

      June 10, 2009 at 6:35 am
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    Shelby Reply

    “Everything goes somewhere, & I go everywhere.” is a quote from Mr. Universe in the movie Serenity. He lives on a secluded moon with his fembot wife, watching all the TV, surveillance video, etc. in the universe.

    November 25, 2009 at 8:25 pm
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    Johanna Hoffmann Reply

    Great post Gabriella!
    When deciding whether to follow someone, I often find there’s a gap between what is considered ideal practice and what is actually interesting. Twitter etiquette and best practices guides recommend engaging friends and followers in conversation. But when you look at the streams of people who do just that, all you see is a long stream of cryptic conversation that only makes sense to those engaged in it. You can’t crash the chat and put in your two cents’ worth and there’s nothing to RT for others. The flip side are people who don’t engage with anyone posting only their observations or an unending stream of links.

    So I look for a little bit of everything: conversations with friends because it shows this is someone with whom you can build a relationship, interesting information and links I can RT and share with others, and lastly, some personal content that gives a glimpse of the real person you are tweeting with.

    http://twitter.com/OomphGroup

    May 7, 2010 at 5:45 pm
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      Gabriella Reply

      Hello Johanna, well then you must think my feed is cryptic 🙂 . What I have found useful is when I do want to have a conversation I take it to DM. It keeps the noise to a minimum and it keeps things private. I have to tell you though I have learned how to type & think in 140 characters which I will admit was difficult at first but now even my writing has slimmed down. Btw we have been following each other, nice to see you outside of Twitter. 😉

      May 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm
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    Judy Cook Reply

    Excellent post, Gabriella. So happy we met on Twitter! One tip I like to share with tweeps is to remember everyone sees your replies to another, until you take it to direct message. I try to form those open replies in such a way as to give some context to the conversation – lessens the noise factor. I’m with you – Twitter rocks!

    July 10, 2010 at 7:49 am
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    Tommytrc Reply

    I agree with the DM spam. I hate people who send auto DM’s. I had one person send me 40 DM’s in one crack…. WOW. I follow back most everyone then sort later. I try to seed out the porn and other crap on as I go. I do not auto follow back…that causes mass trouble. I do not want to be one of those people who only follows a handful of people..that seems very one sided. I love learning from new people and that’s what its all about ..learning and growing. GREAT ARTICLE!

    July 18, 2010 at 5:28 am

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The Secret to Following