Iâ€™m fairly active on Twitter, the micro-blogging platform. Each post is limited to 140 characters, so it instills succinct, efficient expression. And you only receive posts from those people you choose to follow, so you can eliminate attention polluters.
Someone asked me today what value I get out of Twitter. Hereâ€™s the deal: First, it fulfills basic human needs of self-expression, and Iâ€™m not afraid to admit that. Second, it has become an important means of one-to-one and one-to-group communications. Third, itâ€™s a great platform to cultivate trusted members in a customized community â€“ to solicit feedback and spark interaction on real questions and issues of everyday life and business. Finally, Twitter posts are published quickly and publicly. While there are risks and obligations with that, thereâ€™s also huge benefits and opportunities associated with being spontaneous and visible to search engines.
If Iâ€™ve convinced you thereâ€™s value in Twitter, the next question is: How do I groom and fine-tune my Twitter community? Minding the four values I stated above, Iâ€™m open to anyone following me, but Iâ€™m relatively selective in who Iâ€™ll follow. Below are my five strategies for deciding whom I follow and whom I wonâ€™t. This is the core of cultivating a meaningful Twitter community â€“ something that develops over time, and requires some maintenance.
- If Iâ€™m interested in you, and you are on Twitter, I may follow you. In other words, I’ll initiate.
- If you follow me and I already know and like you, Iâ€™ll most likely follow you back.
- If you follow me and I donâ€™t know you, Iâ€™ll quickly check out your Twitter page. If you link to a blog, Iâ€™ll review that. Next, Iâ€™ll review your most recent 10 posts. If they seem aligned with me, and appear to offer value, Iâ€™ll follow you.
- If you have exponentially more follows versus followers, I probably wonâ€™t follow you back. That probably means youâ€™re either following me for no other reason than to pollute my attention (spam), or youâ€™re just completely random and unselective in who you allow to cloud your own attention. I suspect Twitter users with a 3:1 ratio of follows versus followers, or any number of follows greater than 500.
- If I follow you and you become actively misaligned with my Twitter values, Iâ€™ll probably stop following you very quickly.
Thatâ€™s my strategy for extracting value out of Twitter. Whatâ€™s yours?