Thursday, February 16, 2012

People I Follow on Twitter and Why

I don't auto-follow back. I pick and choose each and every person I follow on Twitter. Based on what? Read on to find out.

Based on Your Profile
I'm using Twitter mainly to connect with other writers and people in the writing industry, such as agents, publishers, book reviewers, and editors. I occasionally follow other people based on common interest or because they have interesting tweets.

If what you tweet about doesn't interest me, if' you're a real estate agent, a football player, a young man looking for love, a grandma ranting about her aches and pains, a get-rich-quick-scheme type of guy, or if all your bio says is "Follow me, I'll follow you", I may not be interested. Nothing personal.

If you have no bio or your bio doesn't say anything about you, I typically don't follow.

A swear word in a bio is definitely a no-follow. Not very common, but I've seen it. Not classy.

If your bio is intriguing or makes me laugh, I'll most likely follow, just because.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Tweets
I love omelets and meringue, but I don't follow eggs on twitter.  They usually mean bot, and who wants to follow a tweep that's not human?  If people can't make the effort to update their picture, I can't expect to read outstanding tweets from them anyway.

Please keep your clothes on.  Not only will I not follow you, but I may also block and report you if I find your picture offensive.

I really prefer to see your face as opposed to a random image, a character from a book, a baby, a dog, or members of your family.

Tweets I Like
  • Links to blog posts or websites that are useful to me, that could help me in my writing career;
  • Inspirational or funny quotes from famous people or even better, an original quote from you! - especially one I can add to my treasure chest of quotes about writing;
  • Tweets praising someone's achievements or success - a new book release, for example;
  • Useful tips or stand-alone tweets with no link, that can easily be retweeted (not too long);
  • Funny, witty comments;
  • Tweets mentioning someone I know - I like seeing my favorite tweeps mentioned;
  • Tweets mentioning me (of course!) or retweeting me - makes me feel appreciated;
  • Any tweets from my favorite tweeps or people I know personally - I have a special column on TweetDeck with all my favorites, so I don't miss anything they say. I don't always retweet, but I read them all;
  • Interesting, funny or inspiring picture or video;
  • Twitter Art - I love those, but I can't see them on TweetDeck or on my phone. I have to go on Twitter to see all the symbols.

Tweets I Don't Like
  • Endless list of names (#FF type) and no substantial content. Even worse - retweeted lists of names with no substantial content. Except if I'm mentioned in it, then I might tolerate;
  • Tweets individually inviting each follower to visit a site, follow back, buy something, download a free book, or check out a video;
  • Daily tweets about your own products or services; I might follow for a while, but I'll get tired of hearing the title of your book every day and eventually unfollow;
  • Rude or inappropriate comments, or endless ranting;
  • Same tweet over and over and over again;
  • Only retweets and no original tweets;
  • Long tweets - it kind of defies the purpose of twitter, which is to write something in 140 characters or less - and I don't usually bother clicking on links to see the whole tweet;
  • Tweets that span over several tweets - for the same reason as above. Also it makes it hard to retweet. If it's too long to fit on one tweet, write a short blog post about it and link it;
  • Tweets with #too #many #hashtags and links. I normally just skip over those. One hashtag is enough, preferably short and easy to read;
  • Tweets with too many words abbreviated. My attention span on twitter is about 1 second. If it doesn't read well, I just skip it.

About DMs...
If you thank me for following you by sending a DM asking me to visit your website, it makes me want to automatically unfollow you. You don't walk to someone you've just met and say, "Do you want to be my friend?" That would be a bit strange, right? That's not how relationships are created.  I never click on a link sent to me by DM, asking me to visit your blog or check out your book. Out of principle.

Here's how twitter works for me.  I follow you and read your tweets, among many others.  If one of your tweets stands out, if I find it useful or interesting, I'll retweet it and check out who's behind that awesome tweet by reading your profile and visiting your website.

If someone retweets me or mentions me, I always check their profile, read their recent tweets, and very often visit their website. That's a much more effective way to promote yourself than sending DMs.

You want people to visit your website or buy your product? Tweet something useful or entertaining, interact with people, help them promote their stuff.  Give of yourself first, unconditionally.

Another type of DM I absolutely, positively, strongly despise is one asking me to validate myself on TrueTwit so you know I'm not a bot. Um... excuse me?  I find it absolutely aggravating to be asked, "Are you a real person?"  A bot wouldn't interact with people on a personal way like I do. A quick look at my tweets would tell you that I'm clearly a human. Really, I am!

A Final Word
Following someone is not a favor. I don't follow you just because you follow me, and I won't unfollow you or feel offended if you don't follow me back. Your tweets are interesting? I follow you. My tweets are not for you? That's okay to unfollow me. I won't get mad.  This whole "Follow me, I'll follow you" thing doesn't work for me.

Let go of who follows you or not.  Just tweet your best tweets and followers will automatically come.  It's like my favorite quote from Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come." Be interesting, different, intriguing. Be yourself. Be someone people will want to follow.


akoss said...

You and I have a lot in common when it comes to the use of twitter. For a while I was worried I was being too picky or something. Now however I know I'm just fine.
Thanks for posting this.

Annie McMahon said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Akoss!

Barbara Watson said...

These are strong points, Annie. I use Twitter in a similar way.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Annie. I agree. I put my real self out there & I'm looking for the same in tweeps. Not a constant marketing pitch or serial re-tweeter.

Annie McMahon said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Barbara and Jess!

cleemckenzie said...

Raise the bar and keep it high. Thanks, Annie.

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