By Kristen Abell
The other day, my partner and I had one of a series of conversations we’ve been having about Twitter. He’s recently amped up his usage, specifically in regards to connecting with work colleagues. Our conversation went something like this:
Sean: So I had this really good Twitter conversation with a couple other student affairs people today, and afterwards I followed them, but they didn’t follow me back. I find that really annoying.
Me: Yeah, but they probably just see your tweets in their #sachat feed and assume they’re following you.
Sean: But wouldn’t they get the notification that I’m now following them and make sure they’re following me back?
Me: Possibly, but they could be like me and do a sort-through of those at the end of the week and follow you then. Or maybe they don’t believe in courtesy follows and only follow lists or searches. Blah, blah, blah (I’m pretty sure I kept going on for several minutes in my social media expert tone).
How do you choose who to follow on Twitter? Personally, I follow a broad mix of people – mostly based on my interests: a lot of student affairs folks, several local and tech folks, any friends I know are on Twitter, some book and mommy bloggers, and a couple celebs I find entertaining. I have some basic rules about who I follow – I generally get anywhere between three and five new followers a day, so these come in useful.
1. I almost never follow anyone whose bio claims they are an SEO expert, sells something, or tells me nothing about them (hint: always fill out your bio! Many people use this to decide who to follow).
2. I almost always follow student affairs professionals that follow me – it’s part courtesy, part interest. And frankly, it’s also a good move in building my network.
3. I follow people I find interesting – if they’re going to add information or entertainment to my stream, I go ahead and add them.
I do try and go out to actively follow people periodically, or when I see them show up in someone else’s tweets, but mostly these are my rules for follow-backs.
I do know of a couple people in the student affairs community on Twitter that don’t follow many others – and frankly, I don’t really understand that. Maybe they can explain why, but I find this a poor use of Twitter, which is at least partially about relationship-building. Is not following others a power move? Or can you just not keep up with all of the people you might follow?
I know that we all have slightly different uses of Twitter, so I’m curious how others decide who to follow, and when. Do you do “courtesy follows?” Do you consider them courtesy follows if they are in the same profession as you and will more than likely continue to contribute to your stream? How do you use Twitter to build relationships?