Why I Follow People on Twitter

The header for my Twitter page:

I've already gone public with my love to Twitter over Facebook.

Many people use Twitter wrong--and they won't get any real followers that way. And some people use Twitter perfectly well for their purposes--and I'm still not interested in following them. My reasons for following someone aren't the same as everyone else's, but I'm not that different, either. In an article FrogDog wrote on how to get more Twitter followers, people's reasons for choosing to follow Twitter accounts were pretty much consistent across different types of users.

There are some subtle differences, though. This is how I decide whether to follow people on Twitter:

  • Be funny, insightful, and interesting. True in multiple media and no less true in Twitter.
  • Talk to people, including me. When I determine whether to follow someone, I check that she's having conversations. I like to see at least two replies for every original tweet.
  • Don't have tweet diarrhea. Twitter is much friendlier to multiple messages a day than Facebook, but I still don't want someone clogging my feed with multiple tweets a minute.
  • Schedule tweets wisely. It's disturbing to see two tweets within a few minutes on completely different topics or in completely different tones. (For example: 12:21 p.m. "The barbecue at XYZ is hands-down best in town." 12:25 p.m. "Sometimes I just want to cry.") Also, it's annoying to reply to a tweet and be left hanging.
  • Don't buy (or steal) content. I've seen "clever" tweets repeated across multiple accounts on the same or subsequent days. Yuck.
  • Use quotes sparingly. I want to hear your thoughts. Not a famous person's thoughts regurgitated verbatim.
  • Skip controversy for the sake of controversy. Some people love to be seen as edgy or fierce or wild. This reminds me of middle-school kids in the mall pretending to be cool. When I see these kids, I feel vicariously embarrassed. As I do for people who attempt the Twitter version of the same thing.
  • Be real. As a corollary to most of the above: Be yourself. (And if you really are edgy and fierce and wild, I'll believe it when I see it.)

If I choose to follow someone, he doesn't need to follow me back straightaway. However, if he doesn't respond when I try to talk to him or doesn't follow me back after multiple conversations, I typically unfollow him. Why? Clearly, he's not interested in what I have to say or in dialogue that he doesn't start personally. Some people don't mind this--especially people who follow celebrities, who rarely follow anyone back--but I'm on Twitter for the conversation.

I'm having a hard time finding new good people to follow on Twitter. And there are a decreasing number of legitimate people following me. Twitter has clearly reached a maturity stage, in which it's growing more slowly and its users are more established.

Based on my criteria, who should I follow on Twitter?

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Reader Comments (6)

Hard to say since I don't know who you follow.

I am going to guess you follow family, friends, work acquaintances, FrogDog of course, your clients, professional groups, your interests like running, fitness, and things like newspapers or your favorite authors or thinkers you admire.

You probably also follow local things like the city of Houston, museums, the heights, Hurricane Leslie (which there is a page for in facebook by the way just in case there isn't in twitter).

I am going to guess you probably don't follow celebrities or things like tv shows or movies and I know you are not at all interested in following advertising like the latest tweet from Fruit Loops or McDonald's.

As far as finding new things to follow I think there is an argument for following some things that are your polar opposite or totally beyond your ken.

Even though I try to be as apolitical as possible (I hate politics) I have partisan friends from both ends of the spectrum and during the political off-season they are actually quite pleasant people to associate with. Sometimes I may even engage them in political talk. Inevitably though I remember why I hate politics and quickly retreat.

I try to broaden my perspective by digging into subjects and fields that I know nothing about or had no interest in. Sometimes it's worthwhile and sometimes it's not but you will never know unless you try them out.

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

I'll get you on Twitter one of these days, William. ;) And you're right when it comes to finding people to follow--as with anything, it's always good to push beyond the norm.

September 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

I promise that the minute I land in Twitter you will be the first person I follow. :)

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora


September 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

The skittles accounts are the cutest ever! Follow them. :-)

November 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanielNCalderon

Will check those out, Daniel! Thanks for the tip!

November 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

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