Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Relevancy, Engagement, Value - Why You Should or Shouldn't Follow Me
I love Twitter. Well I love all social media, but I have a special place in my heart for Twitter. It continues to prove itself to me, both for personal and professional networking. Too often though, I hear negativity about following too many people - as if it's a bad thing. I'm not attempting to defend spam bots here or anything. But I've heard and read many comments about the ratio of people you are following to people who are following you. It even affects some influencer measurement scores such as Klout. I understand that perspective, because there are certainly people and organizations who will follow anyone and everyone in an attempt to increase their own follower count. However, I do think other other factors need to be considered. Here's just a few of those factors:
1. Relevancy: Are the people who you follow relevant to you, on a personal or professional level? Sure, I follow a few hundred people - Kim Kardashian is not one of them. That's not to say anything against her or those who follow her, but her Tweets simply aren't relevant to me. I follow my friends and colleagues to stay connected, as well as folks in industries that interest me - PR, journalism, mobile, marketing, IT, etc. Oh, and of course I follow both of my alma maters, Merrimack College and the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.
2. Engagement: Are you engaging with the people you follow? Okay, I haven't retweeted, mentioned or sent a message to every single Twitter handle that I follow. But you can bet I've engaged with people across all of the industries and interest areas I follow. I may not retweet everyone, but they're on my list of followers because I think they have potential to share compelling content with me - content that teaches me something, makes me think or just brings interesting news to my attention.
3. Value: Are the people you follow actually sharing anything important with you? If not, why the heck are you following them? Value doesn't have to mean that you should only be following the likes of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Value's different to everyone, and there's all different kinds of value too. You could find value in a humorous Tweet when you needed that comedic break in your day. Or it could be that news or research report that brings you the perfect angle to pitch a trend story for your client. Value doesn't mean any one thing in particular, but all of those you follow should bring it to you in some form or another.
Maybe I'm naive or drinking too much Twitter Kool-Aid, but the way I see it, you should follow as many people as necessary to obtain value. I don't follow people just because they follow me, and I certainly won't unfollow anyone who chose not to follow me back. If they decide they will not gain anything from following me, then why should they? Sure, there are definitely some industry folks out there I wish would follow me back (ahem @BrianSolis). But I won't stop following them because I'm too proud. If I'm getting value out of their Tweets, then I'll continue to follow them and retweet or respond to anything I find compelling enough to share.
Again, I understand both perspectives here, but I think there's more to consider than a simple comparison of followers/people you follow can provide. So when friends and family ask my opinion, I never preach "don't follow too many more people than who follow you." I preach to follow those who will make Twitter as valuable and fun as it has been for me, whether that's 10 people or 1,000 people. That's my PR thought for the day.