One hundred and ten seems to be the magic number for how many people I will follow on Twitter. Any more, and I feel like I can’t read all the tweets. Any less and it feels like I might want to see a few more. It’s a great method to using Twitter productively in the sense of sharing and learning about exciting content all over the web. I never expect anyone to follow me back since that would be in violation of my method to making Twitter as useful to one’s self as possible. I’ll tell you why.
I value my followers, and especially if I follow them back. This is because I place great importance on the interactions I have and that they may have. I utilize the articles and tips shared with me all day and every day. When I receive a new follower, I don’t follow them back right away unless they personally send me a message saying why they followed and I “buy” it. I wait a couple of days, view their tweets, and see if I’m interested in following them back. If I decide to follow back, I’ll give it another week and “demo” them as a connection on Twitter. I think so many people, probably most of them, just use Twitter as a numbers game. They follow back because someone followed them feeling more confident that they will keep that follower. However as most of us are aware, this is where many users are exploited. You follow back and a few days later, they un-follow. And unless you’re really good at knowing exactly who that dropped follower was you’ll just forget about it. No wonder someone with 60k followers made you one of their <200 followed. I get it, as a company or someone of success you want to look as though tens of thousands of people follow you on Twitter and value what you have to share. But as an individual designer // developer this method would do me no good.
Users approach other users differently. Those that have a smaller amount of followers all around, can be seen as more personable. Meaning you can actually get in touch with them without thinking about the thousands of other users trying to do the same. If I’m looking to connect with people in a useful way, I want to know that they will be at least a little responsive to my interaction with them, These are the type of users I follow first a foremost. These are usually the same people that are using Twitter in the same way as myself. In no way am I saying that I wouldn’t follow someone with a thousand or more followers, I do. But overall this is what I look for.
Non Interaction Following (NIF)
I follow a few companies with millions of followers without expecting any sort of personal interaction with them. I use NIF to hear about web trends, see cool art/ design, and know what leaders in the industry are up to. I read a lot of articles every day that I enjoy, coming mostly from these companies. If you are a professional in the design // developer industry, I can personally say that it is worth your while to follow a few of these larger and “in the know” companies.
I’ll follow certain organizations just to get daily info such as news, sports team reports, and music updates. Again, this falls under the NIF category, but if I’m relying on this feed for most of my daily news, I might as well get it from the same place.
Tweeting Too Much
All of the accounts that fall under the categories I’m looking follow will only “get” my follow if they don’t do the one thing that bothers me the most about some users. Tweeting too much, spamming, auto retweets, and various advertisements for more followers are the number one thing I look to avoid when viewing someones Twitter profile. If you tweet more than 10 times an hour, I can’t follow you without filling my feed with a lot of useless information. I want to see a lot of tweets, I read them all, but I want them to have value. There needs to be the possibility of having what you tweet, lead to inspiration or something I want to share with others. Tweeting too often greatly reduces the ratio of meaningful content, unless all your tweets are amazing, which they are not.
It all comes down to the fact that this is my Twitter account. Your tweets are showing up in my feed. I do spend a lot of time reading the feed and clicking on articles. I wouldn’t be exposed to as much as I have been now with out it. Twitter is an invaluable resource that inspires me with it’s streaming content more often than not when I’m using it. I feel that with personal Twitter accounts, playing the numbers game I described above is really limiting what Twitter can actually do for you. Following ten thousand people creates a feed that is impossible to keep up with. That’s why I follow no more than 110 accounts at any given time. Because those who I follow are important, and I care what they are tweeting about. Did you make the list? Did I make your list? It doesn’t matter because unless being on that list is helping me or you accomplish what we work hard for, hitting follow means nothing, Twitter means nothing.