One thing I’ve learned as a new parent is that almost everything to do with raising a child has two completely opposite schools of thought… similar to the two styles of spiritual growth teaching that Barry and I often talk about (the “Love and Light” and the “Tough Love”).
With both, I tend to gravitate to something partway between the two extremes.
Now I’ve noticed that Twitter also has two completely opposite techniques for following people… I call them “Twitter Rockstars” (the equivalent of Tough Love) and “Twitter Groupies” (the equivalent of Love and Light).
So which are you… a Rockstar or a Groupie?
Or, like me, do you tend to prefer the middle ground?…
I’m not going to mention any names as I talk about this, because all the approaches have their pros and cons, and there are people that I like and/or respect in both camps on Twitter.
And I don’t want to get any hate tweets! 😉
But in all seriousness, this is a new medium and we’re all still learning how to best use it. So if I pinpoint someone today, they could totally change their approach by tomorrow anyhow (one of the biggest Rockstars I noticed already did).
“Rockstars” are the people that are followed by many, but follow few.
You’ll notice their profiles will be completely unbalanced, like “5,172 Followers” and “53 Following”.
So they treat Twitter like their own little soapbox, regularly sending out updates about “I’m having dinner with so-and-so,” or “I’m featured on such-and-such TV show,” but they don’t engage in many conversations.
Well, they don’t even know what conversations are going on, because they’re only following their personal close friends or other Rockstars.
And they usually don’t even answer @ messages or questions that others direct to them.
Come on, guys, it’s called “social networking” for a reason!
If you’re not going to be social, and you’re not going to network, what are you doing there?
It reminds me of the people who are in the extra-VIP section of the hottest nightclub. They’re in there hanging out with five of their close buddies, and nobody else.
So then what the heck are they even doing at the nightclub in the first place?
“Groupies” take the opposite tact… they follow absolutely everybody who follows them.
In fact, they usually have an “auto follow” feature on, so that if anybody follows them, they follow right back automatically.
You’ll see things like “7,256 Followers” and “7,262 Following”.
In fact, if you see someone with 50,000 followers that is also following 50,000 people, you know that they likely only got that many followers because they followed as many other Groupies as possible, hoping everybody else would follow back.
Kind of reminds me of people who go to networking parties and talk to every single person in the room.
They say it’s “good social media etiquette,” and that you owe it to people who follow you to follow them back.
And yet the critics of this approach say it doesn’t represent “real” followers (i.e. those aren’t people that really care what you’re saying, or tweeting about… they’re just people who are also looking for a big “Followers” number, in a “my followers are bigger than your followers” competition).
Spammers use this tact, by the way, hence the Twitter rule that you can’t just follow too many people in too short a time without getting your account suspended.
So the Groupies are often complaining of spam DMs (private Direct Messages, which you can only send to people who are following you) because they’ve usually auto-followed so many spammers that they get bombarded with a ton of messages before the spam accounts get turned off.
Then, in the middle between the two extremes, are us “Players”… as in, we play the game by the rules, and don’t go overboard. We converse with others, even if we don’t already know them, and use the “social networking” aspects as they were designed to be used.
With Players, you’ll see that usually the “Followers” count is higher than the “Following” count, but maybe by only 25-75%. So it might be something like “2,357 Followers” and “1,872 Following”.
People follow us, for whatever reasons, and we selectively decide who we’re going to follow back, or find our own people to follow by looking at who our friends are following.
Personally I decide who I’m going to follow based on a few possible things (some, but not all, are required):
1. Have they taken time to put their picture on their profile, and their full name — not just their user name? I’ll follow “bobojojo / Bob Johnson,” or even better, “BobJohnson / Bob Johnson” but I won’t follow just “yusiro” with no real name beside the user name.
2. Have they been around long enough to have a good number of followers themselves? If only 12 people are following them, I’m suspicious.
3. Do they write half-decent tweets, or is their profile page just full of ads and links?
4. Do they participate in conversations? Does their page include lots of @ that show they’re engaging with others? Or is it just about “me, me, me”?
5. Do they tweet about things I’m interested in? I don’t want to know about skiing in Colorado, so why would I follow a guy who only tweets about that? It’s a waste of my time to wade through that among the tweets I’m interested in.
6. Have they interacted with me, answered a question I threw out there, or recommended me to their own followers? If I see a message that includes an @ to me, I usually follow that person if I’m not already.
7. Do I know this person, or know who they are, already?
8. Are other people that I know following them too?
This may seem like it would be time-consuming to check out… and it can be. But there are ways to make sure you’ve got a quality Twitter community with very little sweat.
The absolute best tool I’ve found for this so far is Mr. Tweet.
Mr. Tweet gives suggestions about who you should follow based on who the influencers in your circle are following. You get a report listing who they are, their bio, how many followers they have, how many people are following them, how often they post, whether they usually follow back, and a ton more useful little tidbits that you can look at or ignore.
Pretty sweet, Mr. Tweet!
Just let Mr. Tweet give you your suggestions every two weeks (which he does automatically), and you’ll be tweetingly happy with your Twitter experience in no time. Like most Twitter tools, Mr. Tweet is totally free.
But you might as well start by following me, if you’re not already… I’m @HeatherVale.
If you want me to follow you back, just shoot me an @ message and tell me why… I probably will!
Go get ’em, Player!
Keep Unwrapping Your Online Success!