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Saturday, March 13, 2010

If You Can Read This You're Following Too Close

I'm on Twitter.

But I'm not on it as a gigantic game of seeing how many followers I can amass.

I'm using Twitter as yet another way to communicate back and forth in the social media landscape. I tweet about writing, books, bookselling and mostly related topics (of course, as we're all human, I also tweet about completely un-related topics)

But let me repeat. I'm not using Twitter out of a "mine is bigger than yours" mentality that the person with the most followers wins.

I don't have a lot of followers. Nor am I interested in having a ton of followers -- particularly followers where I don't offer anything useful to them.

I don't follow people in the hope that they follow me back.

I basically follow any person or entity that adds value to my day as a bookseller, writer and book nerd.

Here's how I roll.

When I started on Twitter I sought out various folks whom I thought would be interesting. Then I followed them. I also followed people whom the folks I followed retweeted (RT) if I thought they had interesting things to say. As I move along, when something catches my interest, I check out a person's profile and see if the rest of their tweets are interesting to me.

Similarly, whenever someone follows me, I usually get a notification. If I have the time, I'll check out their Twitter account and I'll look at a few things I see there.

A) Are they a real person/entity/business that is of interest to me
IE, I want to confirm that they're not some sort of spam account. I also like to see SOME sort of profile information about who they are, and, hopefully, a link to their website so I can see more if I'm interested.

B) What are their last half dozen tweets?
For this, I'm looking at the content of their tweets. Are they interesting TO ME, or do they add value TO MY STREAM? Looking at a single tweet doesn't do it, because the last tweet might be some sort of response to another that I'm reading out of context -- but usually, within the first half dozen tweets I can tell two basic things -- are they a sincere Tweeter and, if so, is the content they're pushing out intriguing or interesting.

I'm quite particular about this last questions, because there are a ton of interesting and intriguing people out there on Twitter. I just don't have time to follow them all. So, in the same way that I can't read every single great book ever published, I recognize I can't follow everyone. Yes, I know, there are lists and filters and all kinds of options where I can add 100,000 people to follow, yet filter 99% of them out and only read 1% of them.

But, seriously, what's the point of that?

It's like subscribing to 1000 channels on TV when what I really want to do it watch 4 shows on 3 different channels.

There's enough noise out there already. Why should I invite MORE of it into my already noisy social media space?

This is why I am continually baffled and ticked off by certain people who seem to be using Twitter to just grow their "follower" list -- they'll follow anyone and everyone merely in the hopes of having people follow back.

You can tell these people because you'll get a notification that they're following you. Then, you'll get a notification a day or week later that they're following you. And again, and again.

What it seems to me like they're doing is following you, hoping that you follow them back. And, if you don't, they stop following you. Then they follow you again -- again with the hope you'll reciprocate.

Seriously, people. Grow up.

If you want to convince me of your complete insincerity, then keep doing that.

If, however, you want to ACTUALLY connect with me, feel free to try to connect with me, not play an endless game of "follow/unfollow" -- I mean, really, who has that much time in their day?

Along those same lines, I don't want everyone to follow me -- particularly if I don't add any value. (Example, if someone is on Twitter to find out more about the fine art of knitting, they're going to waste their time following me - I pretty much have nothing of value to offer to them) THAT would just be a waste of their time. It's similar to the way I think about my fiction. As intriguing as it might seem to me, I actually don't want EVERYONE to read my fiction.

I recognize that some people will love my writing (and am self-aware enough to know that this is very likely to be a select minority of people), some will merely like it and some will hate it. The worst thing I could do would be to flog my fiction around to EVERYONE. In standard day to day contact with people, I don't tell everyone I write and what I write -- I usually only mention it IF I believe that my writing is something they might enjoy. At that point, it stands to have more value to them.

So, similarly, I'm on Twitter. Check me out. If you think my tweets add value to your day, feel free to follow me. If not, then check out someone else. I'd hate to waste your time.

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