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Rules of Twitter Following

July 22, 2009
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Looking for interesting posts around Twitter Policies and Guidelines in preparation for Connected Social Media Policy week, I ran into this interesting guidelines around the rules of following are posted on By @JeffreySummers. [Update: these are suggested rules for not following someone]. The suggested rules include:

  1. do not have a website. Engage with the process or don’t.
  2. do not use a picture of yourself or your business logo or any avatar that reflects who you are. Pictures of your cat or your mom’s 86th b’day party don’t cut it.
  3. do not follow others – following 250 people but have 25,000 following you makes you undesirable to me, no matter how important you think you are.
  4. send me ads about buying your latest ebook on raising Alpacas.
  5. do not have a biography. The whole point is to get to know you right?
  6. never post anything. I’ve seen people with 1,000 followers but only 7 posts. And those were spread out over 8 months. Again, be committed to the process or not.
  7. ignore questions or comments I send you in regards to your posts. The medium is about engagement.
  8. take more than 3-5 days to reply back to me.
  9. have nothing remotely intelligent to say. Blaming France for your economic woes doesn’t cut it.
  10. talk over other people’s conversations or hijack them in mid-stream. If I’m having a conversation with someone, don’t butt in.

I don’t necessarily agree with some of the above, but they raise interesting codes of ethics and perceptions about online behavior for discussion.

Key aspects are the bullets that speak of validation of a twitter user as ‘a real person’ – has a profile pic, a bio, user that tweets and participates in conversation. People need to know they engage in conversation with other people, that are there for the dialog, a 2 way conversation. Without this, there is no engagement.

An interesting point is raised by “do not follow others – following 250 people but have 25,000 following you makes you undesirable to me, no matter how important you think you are”. does the number of people you follow, or follow you, give an indication of the value of content, or engagement you provide?

The last bullet is an interesting point – talking ‘over’ other tweeple conversations. The question to be asked is, why do people have ‘public conversations’ if they don’t want others to get involved? If this is a private conversation – why isn’t it ‘conducted’ as direct messaging or email exchange?

which of the above resonate with you? what would you add to these?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2009 10:53 am

    While I appreciate the fact that you found my page interesting enough to talk about on your blog, you left out the context for the list that appears in your post. Namely that this list of 10 items are reasons why I will not follow someone.

    You also missed the point being made about “Does not follow others”. I’m not interested in following celebrities – people who follow 200 but have 250,000 followers or people who need/want/desire large numbers of followers just to satisfy their ego. Twitter is about engagement through conversations, if you don’t want to have them, go elsewhere.

    Lastly, my point about ‘talking over’ others is not about being involved. I don’t care how many people join a conversation I’m involved in. But exhibit the same common courtesies you would if you were walking up to two people already engaged in a conversation at a party, namely, don’t be rude and know something about who and what is being talked about.

  2. alin wagner-lahmy permalink*
    July 22, 2009 6:49 pm

    Thanks Jeffrey, it is great to have you on my blog – you’re right, I have neglected to mention the full context and am updating it in the post body.

    Regarding the point of following celebrities – I agree with the celeb aspect: I will not follow ashton or CNN just for sake of following. I will follow a person for me, even if they don’t engage in conversation with me directly. Simply because I am interested. My point was, # of followers is not a factor for my decision. The content is.

    I am curious about the last point – common courtesies are of course a must everywhere – online and offline. However, I would question the meaning, and interpretation of that – the dynamic nature of twitter means many time you will get tweets from people you don’t know, that just happened to ‘swim by’ your stream of updates and are only seeing a piece of it in time. It will always be a ‘dip in, dip out’ scenario. How could they participate without being perceived as rude?

  3. July 23, 2009 5:20 am

    And it’s great to be here. Thanks for sharing!

    Number of followers is not a factor for me either, but I just want to be able to engage freely with my followers and those who follow me. I want to be accessible to anyone who has an idea they want to talk about or share. I don’t want to follow someone who constantly pushes links out to me. If that’s what they want to do then they should create a blog and I might subscribe to their RSS. Also, if you don’t follow someone who follows you, you can’t ask them a question or share something in a private way. I’m not saying to follow everyone back, but when your ratio is a gazillion – 1, something’s a miss and you should listen to that person for a while before you follow them.

    The last thing I want said about me is that I didn’t listen.

    As for inserting yourself into a conversation, I still suggest people follow the example I laid out in my original comment. Consider yourself at a party and two people are engaged in a conversation that you’d like to be a part of too. Because it’s the internet, there are some extremely boisterous people who will simply insert themselves like a bull in a china shop. You should watch the conversation and wait until you have something of value to add to the discussion – without repeating whats already been said, ask a question of one of those engaged, etc… but don’t jump in with your first tweet being “You’re full of shit” or “That’s wrong. ” or with something that is totally off the point. Watch the flow of the conversation and stay out until you see that your point or question makes more sense now than earlier because the conversation developed in your direction. There are many other things that we could talk about here when it comes to interpersonal conversation, but these are the ones that cause me the most frustration when I’m trying to engage with others. The bottom line is don’t do it if you wouldn’t want someone to do it to you.

  4. July 30, 2009 3:10 pm

    Wow. These are very useful tips and I should start following these right away. Thank you so much for sharing.

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