Follow or Unfollow

One of the nicest things about Saturday mornings is some extra time for reading. This morning it was two blog posts debating the merits of unfollowing everyone on Twitter.

The first was Why I Unfollowed Everyone on Twitter and Why You Should Too by @JoelDrapper who decided that he was following too many people and wanted to focus on connections rather than numbers by unfollowing everyone and stating over with those who really interest him.

The response was Why It’s a Terrible Idea to Unfollow Everyone on Twitter by @the_gman saying that is anti-social and unfair to have one-way conversations on Twitter (complete with a cleverly worded poll reminiscent of political ads).

I agree with @JoelDrapper and many of the comments by LoneWolf, and here’s why:

Twitter is a wonderful tool that can be used in many ways, but each user gets to decide who else has something to say that they want to hear.  They get to decide how they are going to make that determination, and they get to change their mind if they want.

I do not expect that just because I find particular tweeple interesting and worth following, they will also find me interesting and worth following.

  • I follow some folks that are mentors in my field, but I don’t expect that want to follow every admirer.
  • I follow some news sources, but I don’t do anything newsworthy, so why would they follow me?
  • I follow someone who is living in a distant country I have an interest in, there’s absolutely no reason to think that they would have an interest in my location.
  • I follow a couple of celebrities (shhh) mostly out of interest to see how they use twitter.

I can (and do) @reply or RT these folks occasionally.  Sometimes it leads to further interaction, sometimes it does not.  Either way I have no right to have expectations of these people.

Actually, I rarely follow anyone who follows me out-of-the-blue. If you follow me because you expect me to follow you, you probably don’t have anything interesting to say.  If you have something interesting to say, those that are interested in it will find you all by themselves. I more often follow folks I have come across via a link from someone else I am following, becuase they @reply or RT me, or through a search on something that is interesting me at the time (this time it was @Twitter_Tips).  At that point I look at their bio, at least one page of recent tweets, and usually their web link.

When I do follow someone, I don’t see it as a permanent decision, more of a test-drive.  I will follow them as long as I am interested in what they are saying and I will not feel compelled to keep following on Twitter.

  • I might decide it’s more appropriate to follow certain tweeple on my work account rather than my personal account.
  • I might find that someone else I was already following already RTs all their best gems and I’m getting them in duplicate.
  • I might decide to add their blog to google reader instead, or bookmark their site in delicious instead.
  • I might just decide that their tweets don’t interest me as much as I thought they would – absolutely nothing personal.

So for those who unfollow me because I don’t auto-follow them, or because I unfollow them: It’s OK . . . they were either not really following me in the first place, or they are in it for the numbers rather than the connections . . . probably both.

Today I followed @JoelDrapper.  I think he had interesting and insightful things to say.  I hope he has more interesting and insightful things to say and this is the best way for me to find out.  If it turns out this was the highlight, his post is now bookmarked, I will have no problem unfollowing, and I know he will not take it personally.

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2 Comments

  1. Great summary and post. Everyone does have their own views on Twitter, it’s uses, value and best practices for sure.

    I’m more in your camp. I couldn’t imagine following 15k people and getting the same value out of it. I know I could group followers off using TweetDeck or another app, but I choose not too. I also couldn’t imagine 15k would get value out of my output. 🙂

    We have all have filters and agendas, my hope is that we find ways to respect the relationships and communication it offers so it doesn’t turn into spam and waste. Thanks!

  2. Everyone can of course use Twitter as they see fit no doubt. But there is a negative Karma that is associated with unfollowing thousands of people all in one swoop. This is quite different from unfollowing a person here and there for specific reason. I’m all for unfoolowing people and listening to those that you like but to tell say 10,000 peole all at the same time. “Hey I’m not interested in you I find to be a bit on the antisocial side of social media.

    Just my 2 cents. =)

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