When I started tweeting as @profnet a few years ago, it was a brave new world to me. I knew nothing about Twitter or “twetiquette,” so I read as much as I could about how people and companies were interacting on Twitter.
I got lots of great advice: be conversational; use hashtags; make it relevant -- tips most everyone can agree on. However, there was one question for which I got – and continue to get -- conflicting answers: Should you follow everyone that follows you?
According to this article, by Mitch Joel, president of Twist Imagine in Montreal, the answer is no.
In the article, Joel says, “The only people you should follow on Twitter are people who are immediately interesting to you or people who might become interesting to you. Ignore the rest.”
I respectfully disagree.
In the beginning, I followed only people I recognized or whose tweets I thought were most relevant to me and/or ProfNet. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, and I wouldn’t criticize anyone who chooses to do that, it didn’t work for me. Because by limiting the people I follow, I was actually limiting the conversation.
So many of the connections I’ve made on Twitter are with people who weren’t even on my radar. By following them, I’ve read interesting comments I never would have read and seen links I never would have seen. At first glance, we might not have much in common, but sometimes those can be the best connections you make – those unexpected little gems you might have ignored.
Another reason for following everyone: It allows them to send you a direct message. When you’re tweeting on behalf of a company or organization, this can be very helpful. If someone has an issue, concern or any other type of feedback, a DM from them can alert you to a problem and let you address it before it becomes a bigger, more public problem. It also helps them feel connected to you and your company, and lets them know you do truly care about them and their needs.
Lastly, I like to follow everyone because, well, it’s the nice thing to do. Call me antiquated or even naïve, but if someone has taken the interest to follow me, who am I to say they don’t have anything interesting to say? Even if 99 percent of their tweets are not relevant to me, there might be that 1 percent that will spark a conversation or make me think about something in a new way. And isn’t that the whole point of Twitter?
So to all of you who selectively follow, I issue you a challenge: From today until Nov. 30, if someone follows you on Twitter, follow them back. Don’t think twice about it; just do it. I think you’ll find that following more people makes Twitter more interesting. And if you don’t? Well, heck, it was only four weeks anyway. You can always go back and delete them later.
So … are you up for the auto-follow challenge? Let me know below, and make sure to report back with your results!