I suppose I committed a cardinal sin of Twitter the other day. I unfollowed some people. I know this goes against the “get as many followers as you can” logic, but I have to say I found it to be a kind of cleansing experience. I see the Twitter experience – which isn’t for everyone, by the way – as being one that is more fruitful and fulfilling when a community built on being social is just, well, social. And truth be told, I found some people who weren’t being very actively social at all. Sure, maybe they were just listening to a lot of conversations more than anything. But on Twitter, there’s already too much listening and not enough engaging.
The type of Twit to unfollow
Here’s a Twit that isn’t worth following to me – take a look at the person’s Twitter stream and see if he or she has a combination of most or all of these elements:
1) Doesn’t converse with others.
“Hey world! Here’s everything about me and what I’m doing right now!” It’s a wonder these people are even on Twitter any more. Buy an ad. That’s what you really want. Because it’s clear you don’t care about answering questions, posing questions, adding onto other people’s thoughts, etc. It’s not hard. But this person doesn’t want to make the effort.
2) Doesn’t Retweet.
It’s so simple to Retweet a comment, quote or thought that it’s ridiculous. Especially if you have TweetDeck or HootSuite or another social media dashboard. You come across useful tweets all the time, right? Sure you do. Or you still wouldn’t be on Twitter. So why aren’t you Retweeting them? It’s courteous, it’s nice and it helps provide exposure to that tweeter. Wouldn’t you want someone doing the same for you?
3) Hasn’t posted in over a month.
OK, some people can’t tweet every day or possibly every week. Cut those folks some slack. But when you look at their Twitter stream and see their last post was May 19th when it’s October 14th, you’ve got a sure sign that this person is not the kind of individual who is likely to awaken from their Twitter slumber to have a conversation with you.
4) Doesn’t post links if they don’t link back to their own stuff.
Sure, it’s fine to post links to your latest blog post. I do it all the time. But a lot of other things are worth linking back to that have nothing to do with your brand. It might just be a funny picture. Or a useful article. Or some commentary on an issue you found interesting that you’d like to share with the community. When that isn’t occurring in tandem with some of the other traits above, you may have yourself a follower who is really just about promoting their own cause.
I know, sometimes you want to follow Lady Gaga or Jimmy Fallon or some famous business person who doesn’t really interact that much and is more about “here’s what I’m doing right now.” You have an interest in that person and it’s really just about listening for you. Here lies the exception to the rule I’ve outlined above:
Believe it or not, the celeb tweeter I actually don’t mind for one simple reason – those people usually give us a steady stream of information regularly that we find useful. Celeb tweeters can get away with a little less give-and-take with the community than average Joes like you and me.
The rest of us? Well, we have to work harder if we want to get something more out of the Twitterverse. Yet, if we do so, I think the people we are following and those following us will be that much better for it.
Dan Gershenson is a Chicago-based consultant focused on brand strategy and content marketing. Dan has guided a variety of CEOs and Marketing Directors at small to medium-sized companies, providing hundreds of strategic plans to help businesses identify their best niches and areas of opportunity. Dan blogs on Chicago Brander, mentors advertising students and cheers relentlessly for the Chicago Bears. Dan graduated from Drake University with a degree in Advertising.